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Canned And Wet Dog Foods For Small Dogs: Benefits, Risks

As a small dog owner, you may be wondering what type of food is best for your furry friend. You may have heard of canned and wet dog food, which differ from dry dog food in some ways.

However, what are the advantages and disadvantages of feeding your small dog a moist diet? In this article, Bestforpets will discuss what canned and wet dog food are and how they can benefit or harm your small dog's health.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of whether wet food is appropriate for your small dog and how to properly incorporate it into their diet.

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Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)


The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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1. What Is Canned And Wet Dog Food?

Canned and wet dog food is a type of dog food that contains a high moisture content, typically at least 75%. It’s packaged in sealed cans, containers, or platters to preserve freshness and prevent spoilage.

Wet dog food comes in various textures, including pieces, fragments, pates, stews, and gravies.

In contrast, dry dog food has an average moisture content of 10% or less and is packaged in bags or cartons that are easy to transport and store. Dry dog food comes in various shapes, including kibbles, pellets, and biscuits.

There are several differences between wet and dry dog food, and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each can help you make an informed decision about which type of food is best for your small dog.

Puppy eat

2. What Are the Benefits of Wet Dog Food for Small Dogs?

Wet dog food offers several advantages for small canines, including:

  • Increased moisture content: Wet dog food can help prevent urinary tract infections, kidney problems, and dehydration in small dogs. Because small canines may not consume enough water on their own, particularly if they eat only dry food, wet food can help them stay hydrated.
  • Easier to chew: Small canines with dental issues, missing teeth, or a small mouth may find it easier to chew and digest wet dog food. Additionally, wet dog food can reduce the risk of choking or vomiting associated with dry food.
  • More appealing: Small canines that are picky eaters or have a decreased appetite may find wet dog food more appetizing and palatable. Wet dog food can also stimulate their sense of smell and taste better than dry food.
  • More filling: Wet dog food can help your small dog feel fuller for longer because it takes up more space in their stomach. This can help prevent common issues like overeating and obesity in small canines.

3. What Are the Risks of Wet Dog Food for Small Dogs?

Wet dog food can also pose certain risks to small canines, including:

3.1. Higher cost per serving

Wet dog food is typically more expensive per serving than dry dog food because it contains more water and fewer nutrients per ounce.

You may need to feed your small dog more wet food than dry food to meet their nutritional needs.

3.2. Reduced shelf life

Once opened, wet dog food is more susceptible to spoilage than dry dog food because it is exposed to oxygen and pathogens. You may need to refrigerate and use the remainder within a few days or dispose of it.

3.3. Potential dental issues

Wet dog food can contribute to plaque and tartar buildup on your small dog’s teeth because it does not scrape away pathogens and debris as effectively as dry food.

This may result in bad breath, periodontitis, dental decay, or tooth loss. To reduce these risks, you may need to routinely brush your small dog’s teeth or provide them with dental treats or toys.

3.4. Weight gain

Wet dog food is high in calories and fat, so if you feed your small dog too much or too often, they may gain weight.

You should monitor your small dog’s portion size and feeding frequency to prevent overfeeding and obesity.

Puppy eat wet dog food

4. How to feed small dogs canned and wet food

Feeding a small dog canned or moist food is different from feeding dry food. Here are some guidelines for feeding small dogs wet food:

4.1. Gradual Transition

If you want to switch your dog from dry to wet food or a different brand, do it gradually. Start by mixing a small amount of the new wet food with the current dry food.

Over the course of a week or two, slowly increase the proportion of the new wet food. This will help your small dog adjust to the new taste, texture, and nutrients without causing digestive problems.

4.2. Proper Portion Size

The amount of moist dog food you should feed your small dog depends on its weight, age, activity level, and overall health. Check the product label for feeding instructions or consult with your vet for guidance.

Small dogs should be fed 1/4 to 1/2 cup of moist dog food per 10 pounds of body weight per day, divided into two or three meals. You may need to adjust the amount based on your small dog’s nutritional needs.

4.3. Storage and Serving

Wet dog food has a shorter shelf life than dry dog food, so it must be stored and served hygienically. The leftovers should be refrigerated in a sealed container and used within three days or discarded.

Additionally, wash your hands and utensils before and after handling moist dog food. Serve moist dog food at room temperature or warm it in the microwave or on the stove. Do not serve chilled, frozen, moldy, or expired moist dog food.

4.4. Provide Fresh Water and Dental Care

Wet dog food can help keep your small dog hydrated, but they should always have access to fresh water. You should also take care of your small dog’s teeth, as moist dog food can lead to plaque and tartar buildup.

To prevent dental problems, routinely brush your small dog’s teeth or provide them with dental treats or toys.

  • Looking for the top canned and wet dog food options for your small dog? Check out our in-depth guide on the best canned and wet dog foods for small dogs to discover the benefits and potential drawbacks of these types of food and get expert tips on selecting the right brand and type for your furry friend.


Small dogs may benefit from canned and moist dog food due to its higher moisture content, easier digestion, increased palatability, and potentially greater satiety.

However, there are potential downsides, including higher cost, shorter shelf life, and the potential for dental issues and obesity.

When selecting canned or moist dog food for your small dog, consider the ingredients, protein content, fat content, calorie count, grain-free options, flavor, and texture.

Before transitioning to moist dog food or changing brands, consult with your veterinarian.

To feed your small dog canned or moist dog food, gradually transition them from their current food, feed the appropriate amount for their size and nutritional needs, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

Additionally, provide your small dog with fresh water and dental care to prevent dental problems.

Bestforpets hope this article has been helpful in understanding canned and moist dog food for small dogs and how to select and feed them.

If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to share them in the comments or contact us. Thank you for reading!

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Dr. Barry Buttler

Dr. Barry Buttler, DVM, MS, DACVIM, is an experienced veterinarian who specializes in the care of small animals, specifically dogs. Dr. Barry K. Buttler is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and holds multiple certifications in small animal emergency medicine and geriatric pet health.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Barry Buttler


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