Dog Food Nutrition

5 Best Healthy Canned, Soft, & Wet Dog Foods

November 24, 2018

5 Best Healthy Canned, Soft, & Wet Dog Foods

When it comes to dog food, you have two primary options – wet or dry.

Dry dog food is also known as kibble and it is the most popular choice because it is cost-effective, easy to feed, and has a long shelf-life. There are, however, many benefits of wet food that you should consider. It may be a little more expensive, but it also tends to be higher in protein and moisture than dry food. Plus, many dogs find wet food more palatable.

Keep reading to learn more about your dogs’ nutritional requirements and to receive some tips for picking the best wet dog food to meet those needs. You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best wet dog food.

Quick Look at Our Top Picks:

ImageProductFeatures

Best Overall

I and Love and You Grain-Free Canned Food
  • Made with healthy, wholesome ingredients
  • Always grain-free and allergy-friendly
  • Premium animal proteins and healthy omega fatty acids
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Best Affordable

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Food
  • Real meat is always the first ingredient
  • Grain-free digestible carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption
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Best for Puppies

Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Wet Food
  • Made with real chicken and duck as main ingredients
  • Digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals
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Best for Seniors

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Recipe Wet Food
  • Formulated specifically for senior dogs
  • Several sources of high-quality animal protein
  • Supplemented with organ meats and chelated minerals
View Best Price

Best for Allergies

Zignature Kangaroo Formula Wet Food
  • Made with a high-quality, single source of novel animal protein
  • Grain-free digestible carbohydrates like peas and carrots
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for nutrients
View Best Price

Special Dietary Needs of Dogs

Before you can start shopping for wet dog food, you need to understand the basics about your dog’s nutritional needs. All dogs require a protein-rich diet to support lean muscle mass with healthy fats for energy and digestible carbohydrates. They also need certain vitamins and minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

Here are some of the top things to look for in wet dog food:

  • Quality Protein. A high-quality animal protein should always be the first ingredient in your dog’s food, so look for meat, poultry, and fish. Your dog needs a minimum of 18% protein, but most wet dog foods are much higher.
  • Healthy Fats. Fat provides your dog with a concentrated source of energy and at least 5% of its adult diet should come from this nutrient. Look for quality animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil instead of plant sources like canola oil.
  • Digestible Carbs. Many wet dog foods are grain-free, even if they are not labeled as such. Still, you need to check the list to make sure the product doesn’t contain wheat, corn, or soy ingredients. Instead, look for digestible carbs like whole grain brown rice and fresh vegetables.
  • No Artificial Additives. If you compare the ingredients list for wet food versus dry food, the wet food list will probably be shorter but you still need to check for artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. These provide no benefit for your dog and could trigger a negative reaction.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best wet dog food. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose the Best Wet Dog Food

When shopping for wet dog food, the first place to look is the list of ingredients. If the first ingredient is not a high-quality source of animal protein, put the can back on the shelf.

Dogs are evolved to derive nutrition from animal sources more efficiently than plant sources, so most of the protein and fat in your dog’s diet should come from meat, poultry, and fish. Plant-based fats are okay as a supplemental source to ensure the proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

In addition to protein and fat, check the label for digestible carbohydrates. Things like whole-grain brown rice, oatmeal, or cracked pearled barley are good options as well as starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes. Make sure the recipe contains plenty of fiber (but not more than 5% crude fiber) with beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.

Not only should you check the label to make sure the product contains healthy ingredients, but you should also make sure it doesn’t contain harmful ones. Many low-quality dog foods are thickened with carrageenan, for example, which some researchers believe may cause a negative reaction, though the jury is still out.

You should also avoid artificial flavors and colors which provide no nutritional value and chemical preservatives which can be toxic.

Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best wet dog food.

The Top 5 Best Wet Dog Foods

Now that you have a better understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs, you can see how important it is to choose a high-quality dog food. Wet dog food provides an excellent source of protein and moisture in addition to meeting your dog’s basic needs for calories and nutrients.

Here are our top 5 picks for the best wet dog food that you should consider:

Best Wet Dog Food Overall: I and Love and You Grain-Free Canned Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 8% Min
  • Fat – 3% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Min
  • Moisture– 82% Max

Caloric Content: 332 kcal/cup

The best wet dog food contains healthy, wholesome ingredients with no fillers, by-products or artificial additives. That is exactly what I and Love and You Grain-Free Canned Food has to offer. Available in several protein options, this brand is made in the USA with high-quality ingredients like real meat, poultry, and seafood. Every recipe contains a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with grain-free carbohydrates and healthy supplements. Plus, their recipes are not thickened with carrageenan and they are always allergy-safe.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Beef, Beef Broth, Vegetable Broth, Beef Liver, Dried Egg Whites, Peas, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Guar Gum, Green Beans, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Natural Flavor, Spinach, Potassium Chloride, Pumpkin, Cranberries, Flaxseed Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Cobalt Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Pros:

  • Made with healthy, wholesome ingredients
  • Always grain-free and allergy-friendly
  • Premium animal proteins and healthy omega fatty acids

Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive to feed as a staple diet

Best Affordable Wet Dog Food: Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 9.5% Min
  • Fat – 6% Min
  • Fiber – 1.4% Min
  • Moisture– 78% Max

Caloric Content: 428 kcal/cup

If you want to feed your dog wet food but you’re worried about the cost, Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Food is an excellent option. This brand is made by Merrick, so you can rest easy knowing it is high in quality. Choose from several recipes including adult and puppy recipes as well as multiple protein options – you can also choose between traditional and grain-free recipes. Each formula contains real meat as the first ingredient with digestible carbohydrates, healthy fats, and chelated minerals. Plus, it is free from artificial additives and low-quality fillers.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Organic Alfalfa, Calcium Carbonate, Salmon Oil, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Guar Gum, Choline Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Cinnamon, Flaxseed Oil, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodate, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Yucca Schidigera Extract.

Pros:

  • Real meat is always the first ingredient
  • Grain-free digestible carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption

Cons:

  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • No probiotic supplements

Best Wet Dog Food for Puppies: Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Wet Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 10% Min
  • Fat – 5% Min
  • Fiber – 1.8% Min
  • Moisture– 81% Max

Caloric Content: 383 kcal/cup

To get your puppy started on the right foot, choose a high-quality wet puppy food like this Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Wet Food. Made with real chicken and duck, this recipe is protein-rich with grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas. This recipe is completely free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives and it is made in the USA. It features fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients but also contains chelated minerals.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Turkey Broth, Duck, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Apples, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Dried Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Salmon Oil, Potato Starch, Guar Gum, Flax Oil, Potassium Chloride, Gum Ghatti, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Cassia Gum, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodate, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Yucca Schidigera Extract.

Pros:

  • Made with real chicken and duck as main ingredients
  • Digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals

Cons:

  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Best Wet Dog Food for Seniors: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Recipe Wet Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 8% Min
  • Fat – 6% Min
  • Fiber – 1.5% Min
  • Moisture– 78% Max

Caloric Content: 437 kcal/cup

As your dog gets older, its nutritional needs will change slightly. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Recipe Wet Food is designed to meet those changing needs through the use of wholesome and high-quality ingredients. This recipe features turkey and chicken as the main ingredients with grain-free carbohydrates like potatoes and peas. It also contains nutrient-rich organ meats with plenty of healthy fats and chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, Choline Chloride , Salt, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).

Pros:

  • Formulated specifically for senior dogs
  • Several sources of high-quality animal protein
  • Supplemented with organ meats and chelated minerals

Cons:

  • Thickened with carrageenan, some dogs may be sensitive
  • No probiotic supplements

Best Wet Dog Food for Allergies: Zignature Kangaroo Formula Wet Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 9% Min
  • Fat – 4% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Min
  • Moisture– 78% Max

Caloric Content: 381 kcal/cup

If your dog suffers from food allergies, you need to find a high-quality recipe made with a novel protein and a limited number of ingredients like this Zignature Kangaroo Formula Wet Food. This recipe features kangaroo as the main ingredient which is a novel source of protein with a low risk for triggering allergies or sensitivities. It also contains grain-free carbohydrates like peas, carrots, and chickpeas with plenty of essential fatty acids, fresh fruits and veggies, and chelated minerals.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Kangaroo, Broth, Peas, Sunflower Oil, Carrots, Chickpeas, Agar-Agar, Sun-Cured Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Cranberries, Blueberries, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid).

Pros:

  • Made with a high-quality, single source of novel animal protein
  • Grain-free digestible carbohydrates like peas and carrots
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for nutrients

Cons:

  • Very expensive to feed as a staple diet
  • Main source of fat is plant-based (sunflower oil)

How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?

The amount you feed your dog depends on its age, weight, and breed. Small-breed dogs need a higher concentration of calories in their diet than larger dogs because they have fast metabolisms. In terms of the amount they eat, however, it only makes sense that a small dog would eat less than a large dog. When it comes to feeding your dog wet food, you’ll need to pay close attention to the feeding recommendations on the can because every product is different in terms of calories and different wet foods come in different-sized cans.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

All dogs have the potential to develop food allergies and sensitivities. If your dog has frequent ear infections or skin problems, it could be an issue with the food he’s eating. The most common food allergens for dogs are low-quality grains like corn and wheat as well as proteins like pork and beef. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, try switching to a grain-free recipe or a limited ingredient diet. If that doesn’t work, talk to your vet about the possibility of an underlying problem.

Final Remarks

In the end it is a matter of preference whether you choose dry dog food or wet dog food for your dog. Take what you’ve learned here to make a smart choice or try one of our top picks for the best wet dog food if you’re not sure where to start.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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