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Canned Dog Foods: A Complete Guide for Pet Parents

When it comes to feeding your furry friend, choosing the right food can be a daunting task. For many pet owners, canned dog food is a popular choice. However, it's important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this type of food.

On the one hand, canned dog food typically contains more meat protein than dry kibble and has a texture that many dogs enjoy. On the other hand, it can be more expensive, has a shorter shelf life, and can potentially cause dental issues.

To make an informed decision about whether canned dog food is right for your pet, it's important to know what to look for. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of canned dog food, including how to choose the best option for your dog and the top brands to consider.

BestForPets'll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of canned dog foods and provide guidance on how to safely and correctly feed them to your dog. By the end of this article, you'll have all the information you need to make the best decision for your furry friend's health and well-being.

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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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The Pros and Cons of Canned Dog Food

The Pros and Cons of Canned Dog Food

Canned dog food, while often considered less convenient and more costly than dried kibble, has several advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of tinned dog food:

Advantages of Canned Dog Food

1. Higher moisture content

Compared to dried kibble, which typically contains 10% or less moisture, canned dog food typically has at least 75% moisture.

This helps prevent dehydration and urinary tract infections in dogs, especially those with inadequate water intake or kidney disease. It can also aid in stool softening and prevent constipation in dogs with digestive or anal gland issues.

2. Increased protein content

Canned dog food usually has at least 40% more protein than dried kibble, which typically contains 25% or less. This promotes muscle growth and maintenance in active, developing, pregnant, lactating, or recovering dogs.

It can also help maintain lean body mass and prevent muscle loss in senior dogs, overweight dogs, and those with metabolic disorders.

3. Higher palatability

Canned dog food is generally more palatable than dried kibble, meaning it tastes and smells better to most dogs.

This can be appealing to picky eaters and stimulate the appetite of dogs with dental issues, mouth sores, nausea, or a diminished sense of smell. It can also increase food intake and prevent weight loss in underweight or sick dogs.

4. Lower in carbohydrates

Canned dog food typically has lower carbohydrate content than dried kibble, usually 20% or less compared to 50% or more for dry kibble.

This can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes in dogs, especially those who are inactive, neutered, or have hormonal imbalances. It can also help regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin surges in dogs with diabetes or epilepsy.

The Pros and Cons of Canned Dog Food

Negatives of Canned Dog Food

1. More expensive per calorie

Canned dog food is usually more expensive per calorie than dried kibble, so feeding your dog the same amount of energy can be costly.

This can strain your budget and limit your canned dog food options, especially for large dogs or multiple dogs. It can also make it harder to regulate your dog’s caloric intake and prevent over- or underfeeding.

2. Shorter shelf life

Canned dog food has a shorter expiration date than dried kibble, which means it must be refrigerated once opened and consumed within a few days.

This can result in waste and spoilage if the tinned dog food is not stored properly or consumed quickly. It can also expose your dog to pathogens and fungal growth if the canned dog food is not served in a hygienic manner.

3. Potential dental issues

Plaque accumulation, tartar formation, periodontal disease, and tooth decay can develop in dogs who eat canned dog food because of its soft and sticky texture.

This requires little chewing and does not remove plaque from the teeth. If you do not regularly clean your dog’s teeth or give them dental chews or toys, this can affect their oral health and hygiene.

4. Potential environmental issues

Canned dog food may contribute to environmental problems due to increased packaging pollution.

Tinned dog food is packaged in non-recyclable or non-biodegradable metal cans or plastic containers, which can contribute to landfill accumulation and contamination if not disposed of properly or repurposed.

How to Choose the Best Canned Dog Food for Your Dog

How to Choose the Best Canned Dog Food for Your Dog

Choosing the best canned dog food for your pet requires considering several factors. Here are some of the most important:

1. Consider your dog’s age, size, breed, activity level, and health conditions

Depending on their life stage, physical characteristics, energy level, and medical issues, dogs have varying nutritional requirements.

Dogs with allergies or sensitivities may require hypoallergenic or limited ingredient formulas. You should look for a canned dog food that meets your dog’s specific dietary needs and preferences.

2. Composition, nutritional value, and quality of the canned dog food

The ingredients list and guaranteed analysis are two vital components of the canned dog food label that provide information about the food’s composition and nutritional value.

Look for canned dog food with high-quality ingredients, such as real meat or meat-based proteins (not byproducts or plant-based proteins), nutritious grains or vegetables (not fillers or artificial colors), and natural preservatives (not chemicals or additives).

You should also look for a canned dog food with a balanced nutritional profile, such as high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate, and adequate vitamins and minerals.

Avoid canned dog foods with excessive amounts of any nutrient, as an excess or deficiency can lead to health problems for your dog.

3. Variety, flavor, and texture of the canned dog food

The flavor, texture, and variety of the canned dog food are also important considerations, as they can affect your dog’s appetite and enjoyment of food. Look for canned dog food with a flavor and texture that your dog likes and can easily consume.

Some dogs, for example, prefer pate-style moist foods over chunky or minced ones, while others prefer gravy or broth over sauce or jelly. You should also look for canned dog food with a variety of flavors and formulas, so you can rotate them to prevent boredom or fussiness.

4. Cost, availability, and practicality of the canned dog food

The price, availability, and convenience of the canned dog food are also important considerations, as they can affect your lifestyle and budget. Look for canned dog food that is within your price range and offers good value.

Also, look for canned dog food that is readily available online and in local stores. You should also look for canned dog food that is easy to store and serve safely and hygienically.

Some cans, for example, have easy-peel lids or resealable containers that make them more user-friendly.

To choose the best canned dog food for your dog, read and compare product labels and look for the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates the purity and safety of pet food in the United States.

It indicates that the dog food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for a particular life stage or condition. For example, canned dog food labeled “complete and balanced for all life stages” can be fed to dogs of any age, while canned dog food labeled “for maintenance” can only be fed to mature dogs.

If you want to provide your furry companion with the best nutrition possible, take a look at our article on best canned dog foods available on the market.

How to Feed Your Dog Canned Dog Food

How to Feed Your Dog Canned Dog Food

Feeding your dog canned dog food can be easy and enjoyable as long as you follow a few basic guidelines. Here are some guidelines for feeding your dog canned dog food:

1. How much to feed your dog

The amount of canned dog food you should feed your dog depends on their weight, age, activity level, and overall health.

You can use the feeding instructions on the can of dog food as a general guide, but it’s best to consult with your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist for more specific recommendations.

As a general rule, you should feed your dog about 1 ounce of canned dog food per pound of body weight per day, divided into two or three meals. For example, a 20-pound dog should eat about 20 ounces of canned dog food per day, or 10 ounces per meal.

2. How often to feed your dog

How often you should feed your dog canned dog food depends on their eating habits and preferences. Some dogs like to graze throughout the day, while others prefer to eat once or twice a day.

As long as they’re not overeating or undereating, you should observe your dog’s natural rhythms and eating patterns. Additionally, you should avoid feeding your dog too close to their exercise or bedtime, as this can cause digestive issues or affect the quality of their sleep.

3. How to store and serve canned dog food

It’s important to store and serve canned dog food properly to ensure its freshness and safety. Unopened cans of dog food should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Before opening a can, check the expiration date on the label and discard any damaged or bloated cans. Any leftover canned dog food should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within three days.

To bring out the flavor and aroma, you should serve canned dog food at room temperature or slightly warmed in the microwave or on the stove. Too-hot or too-cold canned dog food can cause damage to your pet’s mouth or intestines.

4. How to transition from dry kibble to canned dog food

This will help prevent digestive upset or rejection. Start by mixing a small amount of canned dog food with your dog’s regular dry kibble, and gradually increase the amount of canned food over the course of seven to ten days.

During the transition, monitor your dog’s appetite and stool quality and adjust the amount or pace of the transition accordingly.

Additionally, consult your veterinarian if you notice any signs of intolerance or allergy to the new food, such as vomiting, diarrhea, itching, or skin irritation.

5. How to combine wet and dry dog food or other foods

Mixing canned dog food with dry kibble or other foods can add variety and balance to your dog’s diet. As long as you don’t exceed their daily calorie needs, you can combine canned and dry dog food in any proportion that suits your dog’s needs and preferences.

You can also mix canned dog food with other foods, such as cooked eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, or fruits and vegetables, as long as they’re safe and nutritious for your dog.

Avoid mixing canned dog food with toxic or harmful ingredients, such as chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, and xylitol.



Canned dog food can be a great option for your furry friend, but it also has some drawbacks. To ensure your dog’s health and happiness, you should choose the best canned dog food based on their needs and preferences and serve it properly and safely.

BestForPets hope this article has taught you more about canned dog foods and how to choose and feed it to your pet. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below. We would love to hear from you!

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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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