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Dog Nutrition Series: Kibble and Wet Food

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Welcome to the second part of the Dog Nutrition Series. If you haven't gotten the chance to read the first part, click here. In the first post I went over general considerations you want to keep in mind when you are picking out a pet food and why what you are feeding matters. In this part we are going to go over the main two types of commercial pet food, kibble and canned wet food.

Which is better, kibble or wet food?

The biggest factor is personal preference, both for you and your dog. If your dog prefers one to the other, than stick with that. Or if you prefer one or the other, go for it. Or you can mix the two to give your dog some variety. As long as you are choosing a brand that hits all the right points for your dog, feel free to make the choice that works for you.

What are the pros and cons of kibble?

Kibble tends to be less expensive and more easily accessible than wet food. Just walk into any pet store and prepare to be overwhelmed by the choices. You can also find kibble in most convenience stores. There may also be some dental benefits from dogs crunching their food, though evidence in unclear for all but specifically designed dental formulas. On the other side, kibble tends to be higher in calories per volume, which is good if you have a very active dog, but since there are a lot of overweight and obese dogs, I'm going to count this as a con. It also has a shorter shelf life, only about 6 weeks once the bag has been opened. Another thing to consider is that kibble tends to have a higher carbohydrate percentage, which depending on your dogs needs may be a good or bad thing.

What are the pros and cons of wet food?

Many dogs love the taste of wet food. It can be very useful for picky eaters or for dogs who won't eat when their environment changes. It also has a higher moisture, protein and fat content. Because they are canned they have a very long shelf-life as long as they are kept sealed. And that means that manufacturers don't need to add in lots of preservatives to keep it from spoiling. However, this means that once it is opened, it needs to be refrigerated and and used within a couple days. It is also significantly more expensive. Good quality canned foods are over a dollar apiece and if you have a larger dog, you may need to feed 4-6 cans a day and that cost really adds up.

What should I look out for when choosing food?

Read the label. Look for an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement. If the food does not have it, stay away or feed only as a treat or topper, not as their main food. You should also read the ingredient list. FDA regulations mean that the ingredients are listed by weight. So you want to make sure that the top ingredients are all things you recognize and include at least one quality protein source. Here is a handy infographic published by Consumers Advocate of things to look for on the label.

What are the issues with kibble and canned wet food?

The main arguments against kibble are that there are lots of recalls, many include potential harmful ingredients, and the safe ingredients are often not of high quality. When you are choosing a brand, it can be difficult to find a brand that avoids all of the above, but they are out there. The important thing is that you do your research and speak to your vet to make the best choice you can.

For more information, I listed some resources for you to start your own research. I encourage you to scour the web and the library as well as speak to your vet about nutrition and nutrition resources. Just remember to keep in mind who is publishing the information. To read about raw and homemade diets, click here.


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