There are a lot different types of dog food on the market to consider. Dry food remains the top pick for most dog owners. While kibble wins out as being the most convenient, lightest weight and cheapest option, a lot of puppy parents choose to add wet food for additional calories and a flavor boost. This is a great option especially for fussy eaters. Many older dogs also need wet food due to dental issues that make it difficult for them to chew hard, coarse kibble. If you choose to feed your dog solely wet canned food, it is even more important to find a high quality option to be sure your pup is getting the nutrition they need.
Wet canned food pre-dates dry kibble as a go-to food for dogs. In the beginning, canned dog food consisted primarily of scraps and waste from meat rendering facilities. Although it has come a long way overall, there are still plenty of low quality options that pack their canned products with ingredients that would make your stomach turn. Even some of the most popular, household names in pet care are guilty of putting their company’s financial bottom line over the health of your four-legged family.
In this article, we will take a look at what kinds of ingredients you need to see on the label of your dog’s canned food. Moreover, we’ll review some of our choices that make the grade as being the best canned dog food.
Make It A Meaty Meal
Your dog needs the majority of his calories to come from meat protein. This is at the core of every canine diet. Dog food needs to reflect your pup’s natural diet as closely as possible, meaning the first ingredient in any food needs to be animal protein.
To avoid low quality recipes, we’re not talking about just any meat on the label. If you actually see the word ‘meat’ on the ingredient list, you do not want to buy that food. Any generic terms like ‘meat’ or ‘poultry’ must be avoided because they imply that the manufacturers cannot identify what animal was used in food production. As aforementioned, there are still a lot of dog food companies that are packaging meat scraps from rendering facilities that would otherwise be thrown away. Always seek out dog food that has an actually animal source on the ingredient list, like chicken, beef, lamb, venison, etc.
You also want to steer clear of by-products. A lot of dog foods are proudly claiming to contain other animal parts like organs, cartilage and bone as natural sources of vitamins, minerals and compounds that your dog needs. If you think of what a wolf may eat from its prey, this is an accurate reflection of what our domestic canines would consume in the wild. On the other hand, ‘by-products’ is simply all those other parts that even their wolf cousins would leave on the carcass. Again, these are leftovers from meat processing plants.
Also avoid corn, wheat, gluten and soy. These common fillers are also common allergens and offer no substantial nutritional value to your pup’s food.
Behind animal protein, a good wet food will have healthy carbohydrates as well as fruits and vegetables. Ideal carbohydrates include whole grains, oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice or tubers like sweet potatoes. Your pup really does not need a lot of carbohydrates or grains in their diet as this would not be readily available in nature. The same goes for fruits and vegetables. Many canned foods will have one or two fruits and/or veggies, but supplement thoroughly with additional vitamins, fiber and trace minerals. Any quality dog food also needs a healthy source of fat and oil, as well. Chicken fat is commonly used, but is best supplemented with something like fish oil or oils from flaxseed or sunflower to increase the omega fatty acid content.
For dogs with food sensitivities, weight problems or difficulty regulating blood sugar, you may want to consider limited ingredient diets as well as grain and gluten-free options. These choices are great for all dogs, but for those that have these specific needs they may be critical in maintaining good health.
As with all dog food, the best wet dog food will be full of natural, wholesome ingredients. Simple recipes full of lean protein balanced out with moderate portions of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables are what we are looking for in the best wet food for dogs.
Our Top Picks For Canned Canine Cuisine:
Wellness is one of our favorite brands of dog food. Their products are consistently high quality, full of natural ingredients that are super nutritious for your dog. Wellness CORE canned food uses great sources of protein like chicken, beef, salmon and venison as their main ingredients. Sweet potatoes offer gluten-free complex carbohydrates as well as plenty of fiber and nutrients. Wellness has one of the more diverse blends of fruits and vegetables, as well. Apples, carrots, spinach, blueberries, broccoli and kale are among the vitamin-rich selection. The addition of both fish and flaxseed oil also give this line of canned food substantial amounts of omega fatty acids. Wellness CORE is an all-around excellent choice for canned wet food that we can highly recommend.
Blue Buffalo gets high marks for its entire line of dog food, with their Blue Wilderness line being of exceptional quality. Following the ancestral diet philosophy, their grain and gluten-free recipes start off with lean protein like beef, chicken, turkey or more exotic choices like venison, duck and even alligator or catfish. Potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes add moderate amounts of healthy carbs. These formulas include fish oil and flaxseed for omega fatty acids plus a solid list of fruits and vegetables for antioxidants. The recipe includes kelp, blueberries, cranberries, apples, spinach, pomegranate and much more. Blue Wilderness canned food also contains probiotics for digestion and l-carnitine to support your pup’s metabolism and heart.
Another great choice if you are looking to keep your dog’s food holistically wholesome, Holistic Select makes a nutritious canned dog food full of everything your dog needs. Protein sources like chicken, beef and whitefish are the main ingredients in their wet food recipes. Holistic Select includes very moderate amount of carbohydrates, as well, making their food even more ideal if you are looking to lower your dog’s carb intake for weight, blood sugar or other health reasons. They do include plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables like pomegranate, papaya, blueberry, pumpkin, apple and cranberry. Flaxseed adds essential omega fatty acids to Holistic Select canned foods, as well. This is definitely a great pick for simple, balanced nutrition in a can.
Taste of the Wild is another brand that is modeling their food selection on the ancestral trend and the result is healthy, naturally grain-free formulas for every dog. Along with the usual chicken, beef and salmon selections, they also use a bunch of more unique protein sources like venison and bison in their recipes. Taste of the Wild’s high protein canned food is balanced by moderate carbohydrates from fiber-rich sweet potatoes and a fruit and veggie blend that features blueberries and raspberries for an antioxidant boost. Taste of the Wild focuses on meat-based protein as the core of their food, supplementing well with all the vitamins, minerals, oils and fiber needed to make this food a top selection in the canned food category.
Merrick offers an excellent line of dog foods and their Classic canned selection is a solid choice if you are looking for balanced nutrition in a wet food format. Their formulas put meat protein front and center, with sources like beef, chicken, turkey, duck and more. Sweet potatoes, peas and potatoes provide complex carbohydrates. Merrick also includes eggs, olive and flaxseed oil to increase the omega fatty acids and uses green beans, apples, blueberries and carrots in tandem with natural vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that their canned wet food is providing your dog with balanced nutrition in every meal. Merrick has a variety of different canned formulas to choose from, all of which make the grade as high quality wet food options for your pup.
The best canned dog food will feature identifiable ingredients that you will recognize as healthy. Lean meat sources from an animal balanced with complex carbohydrates in moderation and a blend of fruits, vegetables, vitamin and minerals is the foundation of a quality dog food.
As you can see, many of the brands we’ve chosen are those that are embracing the ancestral diet philosophy. It is no coincidence as the healthiest dog foods are those leaning towards a more natural diet that mirrors what canines would eat in the wild. Our dogs’ systems are used to a diet rich in meat, with most of their fruit and vegetable intake coming from foraging or the stomach contents of prey. Grains and carbohydrates are not something that our dogs’ ancestors would naturally consume, unfortunately a great number of dog food manufacturers use ingredients like corn as the main stay in their recipes.
Always read the label on your dog food before you buy to make sure it is not one of those low quality options. Poor nutrition leads to poor health with an increased risk of disease and injury down the road. It is a worthy investment to buy a higher quality food for your best friend.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com.