Dog and cat eating from food bowl

Some pet owners feed their dogs a mix of wet and dry food.

© Shutterstock

Is wet or dry food better for my pet?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

With different advantages to wet and dry food, you'll need to read up to choose the right one to feed your pet.

There are so many options available when it comes to pet food that it can seem rather overwhelming. Which one should you pick? One of the key choices to make is whether to opt for wet or dry food – and this will depend on the individual pet. There are lots of advantages to wet and dry food respectively, and the below guidance should help. But you can also speak to a vet or pet shop retailer for more tailored advice.

What is wet food and what are the pros and cons?

A wet food refers to a can or pack containing a meaty paste or chunks of meat in a gravy or jelly. Some fussier dogs much prefer wet food because it has a stronger smell and taste, so is more appealing to them. Owners of dogs with diagnosed kidney or bladder problems may be advised to feed their pet a wet diet, as increasing water intake can be beneficial in managing these conditions. A key downside is that a wet food diet may be linked to dental disease, and so owners will need to be on-the-ball with toothbrushing. There are also considerations for storing the food, as it often needs to be refrigerated once opened and discarded within a shorter time-frame according to the packet guidance.

What is dry food and what are the pros and cons?

A dry food is more commonly called a ‘kibble’ or ‘biscuit’. It is easy to weigh out portions, so that your pet is eating a consistent amount to maintain their weight. It also tends to keep well if stored properly. Kibble are often designed to help keep your pet’s teeth clean and may even help to keep gums healthy. They are often lower in fat, which is useful for dogs with a history of pancreatitis or who need to lose weight. Having said that, dogs with existing bad dental problems can find chewing dry food painful and some individuals simply don’t like it.

Should puppies eat dry or wet food?

Puppies will initially be weaned onto a wet food by the breeder, but they may be on biscuits by the time you bring them home. Try to keep them on the same diet that they are used to at first, as they can otherwise develop diarrhoea. Any diet changes should be made very gradually, by mixing in a small amount of new food into their old diet. It is important to feed a food that is appropriate for the life-stage of your pet, regardless of whether this is dry or wet. If in doubt, ask a vet or a knowledgeable member of staff at your local pet shop.

Is it OK for dogs to eat only dry food?

Yes, unless a vet has advised otherwise, many dogs are happy on a complete good-quality dry food. As with any diet, it is essential to keep free access available to water at all times.

Is it OK to wet dry dog food?

Yes, you can add water to your dog’s dry diet (do not store the food with added water though). This can work well in certain scenarios, such as for pets with bad dental disease who find crunching on the kibble difficult, yet is not usually necessary.  

Can dogs live on wet food only?

Yes, it is fine for a dog to only be fed a complete wet food, unless a vet has recommended switching to a dry diet. But it is important to make sure that you follow the correct storing guidance and keep on top of dental hygiene with toothbrushing.

Can I combine wet and dry food for my dog?

Given the differences between wet and dry dog food, some pet owners feed their dogs a mix of the two. If you decide to mix diets, take care that your pet is still having a balanced diet and that they do not put on weight – it can be harder to monitor their daily intake. It might be best to feed a wet and dry food from the same manufacturer and to contact them for nutritional advice about using the two in combination.

When should I see a vet to discuss the best diet for my pet?

If you are concerned that your pet’s diet does not suit them well for any reason, such as dental health or gastrointestinal problems, book a vet appointment. They can give your pet a check-over and recommend a treatment plan, plus tell you whether a dietary change is necessary. You can also ask for advice about whether a wet or dry dog food would be best for your pet, although in many cases this will be down to the preference of you and your pet.

More advice on...

What did you think of this advice article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?