Should I Buy Wet or Dry Pet Food?

Petfix Club
26th January 2021 - 3 min read

When it comes to commercially produced pet food, there are two main categories:

  1. Wet or “moist”, in tins, sachets, and foil containers
  2. Dry or “kibble”, sold in bags

Wet Food

Moist, or “wet” pet food, was traditionally the most popular type. This was originally only available in tins, but now is often sold in sachets or wrapped in plastic. Dogs often have mixer biscuits added to the wet food in their bowl, whereas cats are generally fed it on its own.

Moist food tends to have a rich odour, and pets tend to find it more palatable, but it tends to be messier, more expensive and less convenient than dry food.

cat food at bowl

Dry Food

Complete dry pet food is a more recent arrival on the pet food scene which has become increasingly popular over the past thirty years. The earlier formulations were a muesli-type mixture, with flakes of cereal and coloured chunks of meaty-like ingredients.

These days, the food is sold in a wide range of product types that include

  • Pellets
  • Shaped biscuits
  • Even as a dehydrated product that reverts to constituent parts (such as rice and vegetables) when warm water is added. 
cat eating dry food off floor

Complete dry food is normally purchased in a paper or plastic bag. It tends to have a long shelf life, even when open, so it’s possible to purchase a large bag that lasts for a month or more. This type of food tends to be cheaper and more convenient than moist food.

Dry FoodWet Food
Moisture3-12%60-84%
ConvenienceEasy to transport and storeHeavier to transport, more
difficult to store when open
(needs refrigeration)
PriceGenerally better valueUsually higher daily cost
NutrientsHigh-quality dry food can
provide all essential nutrients
High-quality wet food can
provide all essential nutrients
Shelf LifeLonger LastingDoesn’t last as long

Water Content

Obviously, the water content of dry food is very low at around 8% (compared to 75% water – nearly ten times as much – in a typical moist diet.) This means that it’s critically important to ensure that fresh water is continually available to pets on dry food: you’ll notice that your pet drinks far more than if a moist food is fed.

Commercially Produced Foods

Commercially produced dry and wet food is generally the best option for most pets, as the food is guaranteed to provide complete nutrition (it has been formulated by professional nutritionists to meet specific standards).

Some people choose to feed raw diets, or to home-prepare food for their pet from grocery ingredients. These methods can be fine for individual dogs, with the proviso that studies have shown that a high percentage of such recipes are not properly nutritionally balanced, leading to a risk of deficiencies of essential nutrients.

For this reason, if such a diet is planned, it makes sense to use online professional nutritional advice to ensure that your pet will be getting the fully balanced diet that they need.

Which is best?

So which is best for your pet? Wet or dry commercially produced foods?

It depends on your pet, and on yourself. You can choose one, the other, or even a mix of both. If you are unsure, please talk to your vet or talk to Pete and his team on Ask a Vet.

If you have chosen to change your dog to a new food, please follow our Guide to Changing Dog Foods to help you through the process smoothly.