We all want what’s best for our dogs, and that begins with making sure that they eat properly. One of the things that distinguishes domestic dog life from that of their wolfish counterparts is regular meals from well-regulated dog food brands. It isn’t as though wolf packs are eating Wolfgang Puck, after all.
Whether you’re looking to give your dog the gourmet treatment or simply wish to ensure they have all the nutrients they need, you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing the right dog food for them.
With that in mind, let’s look at what you should look for in the best canned dog food on the market, which offerings best meet those standards, and what you can expect from each.
Canned Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
First and foremost, before you buy anything, you need to think about your dog’s nutritional needs. A Shih-Tzu is not going to have the same nutritional needs as a Labrador Retriever, and those same dogs will have different nutritional needs as puppies than as adults.
For example, smaller dogs need more calories per pound compared to large dog breeds, and are also at an elevated risk of obesity. By contrast, large dog breeds grow faster and continue growing for a longer period of time than small dogs.
You will want to consider these factors when determining which canned dog food to serve your pet, and how much.
In addition, there is a vital distinction to make between dry and wet dog food. Nutrition-wise, there isn’t much difference between the two. However, there is a huge difference in moisture content, as wet dog food contains far more moisture than dry kibble.
If your dog isn’t getting enough moisture in their food, live in a hot, dry environment, or your dog is prone to dehydration, wet dog food may be a good way to help keep them from becoming dehydrated.
Furthermore, wet dog food tends to taste better to dogs than dry dog food. At the very least, a mixture of the two can give your dog a bit more joy and variety in their diet. Wet dog food often smells and tastes more like meat, which is naturally preferable to dogs than dried kibble. That said, wet dog food is also fattier than kibble, meaning your pup can pack on the pounds quite quickly.
Both have dental benefits. Dried kibble can help clean a dog’s teeth as they chew it up. Conversely, wet dog food is far softer and easier on their teeth, which can be beneficial to old dogs with weaker teeth.
Age also impacts the amount of food your dog needs as well as its content. The best canned wet dog foods are rich in meat and protein. This is one reason it can be a healthier choice for young, highly active dogs, as it gives them more calories, protein, fat, and energy, all of which they need in abundance.
However, if your dog is on the older side or is otherwise sedentary, it likely won’t burn all those calories, but simply lay around and let them convert into fat. When older dogs start to become obese, this is one of the most common reasons why.
Your dog’s diet can also impact the health and sheen of its coat. To maintain a healthy, shiny full coat, your dog should ideally be consuming canned food rich with Omega-6 fatty acids. Vitamin A and zinc can help dogs suffering from scaly skin, though an excess of either can cause health problems of their own.
- Meat and Protein: This should be at the top of any canned dog food’s list of ingredients. Ideally, the canned dog food you choose should be high in protein and feature lean meats such as chicken, beef, or lamb. Take care to make sure that the meat is of high quality and as natural and unprocessed as possible.
- Unprocessed Grains: The “unprocessed” part here is key, as a major incentive for getting authentic canned dog food over kibble. Starch is nice, but not necessary. Ideally, the grains included here should be less like processed wheat gluten and more like wild brown rice. That said, grains fall on a spectrum, so evaluate each can’s grain content individually.
- Vegetables: For as important as meat is, giving your dog nothing but that will leave them lacking in terms of proper nutrition. That’s why the best canned dog food includes veggies as well. Potato and sweet potato are common ingredients. Extra points if you can find one with a more diverse bouquet of vegetables, such as carrots, alfalfa, and tomato paste.
- Specific Dietary Needs: As mentioned, your dog may have specific dietary requirements to help with their age or medical conditions. For example, vitamin C can be beneficial to dogs with a need for added acidic content in their diet.
Conversely, some things you’ll want to avoid are:
- Processed Grains: As indicated above, if you give your dog grains, unprocessed is the way to go. The grain content should be closer to brown rice than white rice. Dogs don’t always respond well to gluten.
- Food Binders: Also known as “filler,” these foodstuffs are just as nutrition-free as they sound. They are mainly included in less expensive dog foods to help hold the consistency together. However, they do not have nutritional value on their own and are typically made of lower-quality materials. Examples of this include wheat gluten and “chunks” of other foodstuffs.
- Sugars and Sweeteners: Sugar, chocolate, and other sweeteners are a huge no-no for dogs. The chemicals they contain are toxic to dogs, and will cause them to vomit or even experience life-threatening conditions. Avoid at all costs.
The Top Five Canned Dog Foods
With those basic questions out of the way, let’s take a look at five of the finest canned dog foods on the market and see what each of them have to offer.
1. Pet Supplies Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner
- This canned dog food offering offers up a combination of real chicken, liver, and beef, all of which are rich in protein and can be of great nutritional value. It also features a nice balance of various oils, which can be beneficial for pet owners concerned about the quality of their dogs coat. It also contains vitamin A and zinc which, as mentioned above, can produce healthy skin.
- One of the most important factors in any diet, be it for dogs or humans or any other animal, is balance. You need to make sure your dog is getting a good mixture and balance of not just a hearty helping of meat. This canned dog food offers a nice balance between ingredients.
- Mixing different dog food options together can help you save money on them while also mixing and matching different nutritional supplements to better complement your dog’s diverse nutritional needs. This canned food mixes well with kibble and may thus be a good option if that’s your intent.
- This is one of the least expensive options on our list.
- The cans are on the lighter side and can thus sometimes arrive dented.
2. Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy Adult Wet Dog Food
Juicy, Meaty Bites Provide a Soft Texture for Flavor and Variety
- The combination of beef and gravy are quite robust. Each morsel is flavorful, and offers exactly what it says on the tin.
- The soft texture makes chewing these morsels comparatively easy. If you have an older dog with weaker teeth, this may be a good option for allowing them to have a nice robust meal without putting too much pressure on their sensitive teeth and gums.
- These morsels are quite moist, so if your dog’s diet is lacking in moisture, this may be a good choice for counteracting that.
- This is another example of canned dog food that comes with a healthy amount of oils, which can help with your dog’s coat sheen.
- Some customers have reported their dog having extra “flatulence” after eating this type of dog food. That doesn’t mean it’s harmful and doesn’t take away from its nutritional content – it just means you may need to hold your nose amidst the odious aftermath.
3. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food
- These cans come with a mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries, all of which can have positive impacts on your dog’s health. If you’re looking to expand your dog’s flavor palate while giving them the benefit of added nutrients not used in more meat-heavy dog food, this may be a good choice.
- The dog food’s meat is also more various than other offerings, including a mixture of real fish and lamb alongside the chicken and beef, all covered in savoy gravy.
- This dog food does not contain any artificial flavors, preservatives, wheat, or corn.
- The food is also quite high in protein content. This stems from the fact that the chicken used in this mixture is not by-product, second-rate filler chicken but the genuine article.
- This is one of the most expensive options on this list, though it is worth noting that you do get bulk for your buck with a pack of 12.
4. Hill’s Science Diet Canned Wet Dog Food
- This is another example of dog food that has been formulated with digestive and skin health in mind. It contains Omega-6 as well as vitamin E to help soothe your dog’s skin and add life to its coat. In addition, this is another example of a dog food that features fish, as it contains salmon, which is also rich in Omega-6.
- If you’re looking to change up your dog’s diet a bit, this may be a good choice for a blend of ingredients both familiar and different. Not only does this dog food contain salmon, it also contains turkey in addition to the more commonplace chicken, as well as green beans, potato starch, egg whites, and peas.
- All of these ingredients also makes this dog food rich in fiber. If your dog is suffering from constipation or is otherwise in need of extra fiber, this dog food may be able to help.
- This dog food is one that bears the “Veterinarian recommended” stamp of approval.
- This dog food is more restrictive than other variants. It is strictly for adults with regular active lifestyles, and should not be given to puppies or dogs that are pregnant or nursing.
5. Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium Canned Wet Pate Dog Food
- This dog food is quite rich in protein, with beef, lamb, and chicken options available. All three meats are lean, meaning your dog can enjoy all the benefits of a meaty meal without the fatty consequences. That combination of high protein and low fat content is also good for helping your dog build strong muscles.
- This is also another example of a dog food that tries to include some added veggie options for a more balanced diet. Among the fruits and veggies included here are pumpkin, cranberries, blueberries, and quinoa. These ingredients can help introduce some antioxidants into your dog’s diet.
- Those berries and bits of pumpkin also mean this is another dog food with a decent amount of fiber.
- This is another all-natural dog food, and thus does not contain artificial flavors or preservatives. It also does not contain any corn, wheat, or other types of non-nutritious filler.
- While this dog food is of good quality, it isn’t always embraced by picky eaters.
Each of the canned dog foods listed here are nutritious and have their merits.
However, the Blue Buffalo stands apart as offering the most diverse range of nutrients. As noted above, it is incredibly important to give your dog lean, high protein meats, Omega-6 and other vitamins to help with your dog’s skin and coat, and a well-balanced diet.
The Blue Buffalo does that better than any other option on our list. It also offers unprocessed grains, and ingredients such as Omega-6 can be beneficial for dogs with special dietary needs.
It also avoids some of the other shortcomings, such as the easily dented cans or flatulence-inducing foodstuffs. It is a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, and as this comes in packs of 12, you’re getting quantity as well as quality.
All of these factors make the Blue Buffalo our top choice to canned dog food.
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