When it comes to providing the best nutrition for our beloved canine and feline family members, the debate between wet food and dry food often leaves owners in a quandary. Whilst there are benefits to both dietary formats, understanding their nuances is critical in making an informed decision for your pet’s mealtime and to achieve optimal health outcomes.
Wet food, also known as canned food, is characterized by its high moisture content and is typically comprised of a base of meat, fish, or poultry in gravy, broth, or water. For years, wet food has been demonized as ‘The Junk Food’ of The Pet World due to poor quality ingredients and additives. Nowadays, however, we have some truly excellent and highly nutritious options such as the Feline Natural and K9 Natural Can Feast range which offer between 90-99% whole food ingredients in fresh New Zealand water. This means, we can obtain the benefits of a wet food diet, whilst providing optimal nutrition for our pets.
Some of the benefits of feeding wet food include:
- Hydration: The high-water content in wet food helps to ensure adequate hydration, particularly in cats who innately have a low thirst drive. Adequate hydration is critical to overall health in our pets, in particular helping to maintain healthy kidney function and help to prevent urinary tract disease.
- Palatability: The aroma and textures of wet foods tend to make them more appealing to even the most discerning of eaters. They can also be served warm which can help to enhance the flavour profile and make the food more appetizing. Vets find this particularly useful for unwell animals or those recovering from surgery.
- Texture: The soft texture of wet food also makes is easier to eat. This can be useful for pets that have had multiple teeth extracted or those that are recovering from or waiting for dental procedures to take place.
- Weight Management: Wet food has lower calorie density than dry food which means it can be a helpful tool in managing your pet’s weight. If your pet is on the slightly plump side, the higher water content of wet food can help them to feel fuller whilst consuming lower calories… a win when it comes to battling the bulge!
Dry food, as the name suggests, is the opposite of wet food. Most commonly thought of as kibble, dry food has been dehydrated such that the water content is close to zero, resulting in a product that is conveniently shelf stable for owners. With the more recent developments in the pet food industry, air-dried and freeze-dried products such as the Feline Natural and K9 Natural Freeze-Dried Feast range, provide a whole food, highly nutritious alternative to mainstream kibble within the dry food category.
Some of the benefits of feeding dry food include:
- Convenience: Dry food offers convenience and ease of storage. It doesn’t require refrigeration once opened and is easier and less messy to portion and serve. This can make it more appealing to people with busy lives or limited storage.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Dry food tends to be more cost effective than its wet food counterpart, especially if you are feeding a larger dog. Quality of ingredients often dictates price, so it helps to compare prices of dry to wet food within the same brand when assessing the most cost-effective way of feeding without compromising on quality.
- Portability: Dry food is highly portable and convenient for travel. It can be used for training treats, meals on the go and can even be fed straight from your hand.
- Dental Health: The hard texture of dry food helps to act as a natural toothbrush when your pet crunches down, assisting in reducing the rate of plaque and tartar build up. This can promote healthier teeth and gums, supporting their overall dental hygiene. Importantly, if you re-hydrate a freeze-dried or air-dried product before feeding (i.e. adding water), the abrasive textural properties and dental benefits are lost. HOWEVER, good quality freeze-dried and air-dried foods are much lower in carbohydrates than mainstream kibble and since carbohydrates feed the bacteria that causes tartar and plaque, low carbohydrate freeze-dried and air-dried foods have their own dental protective properties. Regardless, it is crucial to know that nothing negates the need for regular scaling and polishing of your companion’s teeth at the vets to maintain optimal health.
So, whilst there are benefits to feeding both wet food and dry food diets, the decision should be based on numerous factors including your pet’s preferences, health requirements, and your own lifestyle. To achieve optimal health, it is crucial to remember any food is only as good as its ingredients and must be complete and balanced for your pet’s life stage. Further, if your pet has any health concerns, it is best to consult with your veterinarian about their specific dietary needs.
Finally, for those interested, I feed my dog Albus a predominantly dry food diet of K9 Natural Freeze-Dried Feast range with the addition of K9 Natural Green Tripe Booster. He loves it, I know he is getting excellent nutrition and energy for his active life, and it is easy and convenient for me! Occasionally I’ll throw in a can of K9 Natural Can Feast and the meal is demolished in seconds… either way, he is one happy, healthy pooch!
Written by Dr. Josie Gollan