Canned or bagged, wet or dry: These are basic choices you must face when perusing the pet food aisle of your favorite store. “Wet” products have undergone some major improvements this year and may be the best choice for your dog. Here’s what you need to know.
Which Is Better: Dry or Wet?
From a nutritional standpoint, you can’t go wrong selecting either wet or dry foods for your dog, as long as the products come from a reputable manufacturer. “Premium foods provide a complete and balanced diet, and deliver higher-quality ingredients for easy digestion and absorption of essential nutrients,” explains Dr. Amy Dicke, an Ohio-based veterinarian who has been a member of teams consisting of nutritionists, researchers and fellow veterinarians.
Prebiotics, New Ingredients and Recipes
This year, expect to see flavor combinations and ingredients normally associated with your own foods — such as simmered beef, marinated chicken, garden vegetables and juicy turkey. Just remember that these foods are specially formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, which are different from human requirements.
Look for prebiotics, a recent addition to canned/wet dog foods. These fibers help fuel good bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract. “A prebiotic fiber selectively feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut … and starves the bad bacteria,” explains Dicke, adding that 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is located in its digestive system. As a result, the new prebiotics may promote good immunity defenses and better digestion.
Certain Dogs Might Go Wet
Dr. Katy J. Nelson, an emergency veterinarian in Alexandria, Va., says that while all dogs can enjoy either a wet or dry diet from a premium brand, at least five types of dogs particularly benefit from canned foods:
1. Puppies Canned food is easy for them to digest and offers a concentrated source of protein.
2. Small breeds They too can have delicate digestive systems and high metabolism.
3. Dogs with food allergies Nelson often advises owners with food-allergic dogs to feed them a blend of wet and dry. This makes the food more palatable to the dog and minimizes problems from possible allergens.
4. Dogs with kidney and urinary tract conditions These dogs need good hydration, which they can get from the moisture of wet food.
5. Certain older dogs Senior dogs often suffer from health issues that are eased by wet foods. Dogs that have had teeth extracted, for example, might have difficulty chewing their kibble.
Making the Transition
If you have fed your cat dry food only but would like to incorporate some of the new wet foods into your pet’s diet, do so slowly and gradually to minimize intestinal upsets. Be sure to decrease the amount of dry food you serve accordingly.
How to Feed
Both Dicke and Nelson say dry and wet foods can be fed in any combination: separately, at the same or different times, mixed together, and in the morning and evening. Nelson, however, notes that it might be best to serve the wet food in the morning so it can be consumed in a timely manner to avoid spoilage.
Some dog kibbles are coated with ingredients that help clean your dog’s teeth while it chews, and should be served separately. “These ingredients should be activated by saliva, but wet food can minimize the effect,” she says.
Finally, wet food offers a safe and nutritious substitute for finicky dogs that might otherwise receive table scraps, says Dicke. Human foods, such as chocolate, onions, meat bones, raw meat and raw poultry can be harmful. It’s a better choice to feed wet dog food to satisfy your pet’s cravings.
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