Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ (cont.)

What do I need to know about dry, canned, and semi-moist dog foods?

Deciding which food is best for your dog depends on your pet and your preferences. Dry dog food provides more nutrients per bite than other types of food because it contains less moisture. That means you won't have to feed as much to satisfy a dog's nutritional needs, making it the most practical choice for a large dog.

Dry dog food also costs less per serving and can be left in a pet's feeding dish all day, unlike canned. Dogs with dental problems may benefit from specially formulated dry food made for dental health, which can help decrease periodontal disease by massaging the teeth and gums.

Canned food contains 68% to 78% water. Because of the high moisture content, such foods usually contain more meat, seafood, or poultry than dry foods. They also may contain textured proteins from such grains as wheat and soy.

Dogs with urinary tract problems may do better on canned food because of the higher moisture content. And if your dog likes to eat a lot but is overweight, canned food will help fill him up with fewer calories.

Semi-moist foods contain 25% to 40% water. To help the food stay soft and preserve shelf life, manufacturers add substances that preserve moisture such as sugar, propylene, glycol, and salts.


The Merck Veterinary Manual: “Nutrition: Pet Food Labels.”

Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, nutrition professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

C.A. Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital.

American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “Feeding Your Adult Dog.”

Animal Physiotherapy: Assessment, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of Animals, edited by Catherine McGowan, Lesley Goff, and Narelle Stubbs, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

The Merck Veterinary Manual: “Nutrition: Small Animals.”

National Academy of Sciences: “Your Dog's Nutritional Needs.”

Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, National Academies Press, 2006.