You need to decide on a pet food, but which do you choose? The tuna or the turkey? The lamb or the beef? The wet or the dry? It can feel confusing, but it is not as complicated as it looks. Some people decide which foods to feed to their pets based on previous experience with pets, some base their decision on what friends feed to their pets, some stick to what the breeder has recommended, and some go by what their veterinarian advises. And then there is the influence of hundreds of television and magazine advertisements, all of which claim to be the highest quality.
So, which do you choose? Let’s get down to some of the brass tacks so that you can make an informed decision in the pet food isle.
Wet Pet Food: Pros and Cons
Not all animals drink as much water as they should. Wet foods can be a good source of hydration if your animal is the type that is reluctant to drink adequate amounts of water, which also means that your pet can enjoy a larger portion per meal without adding more calories to their diet. And then there are health considerations that can make wet foods a practical choice. Older animals that have lost some of their olfactory senses may be more inclined to eat a food that has a richer scent and flavor, such as wet foods often are. This is also a good alternative for when a pet is ill and cannot smell as well, or is lacking in appetite. This will assure that they are getting the proteins, vitamins, and minerals they need maintain their health. Wet foods are a good option as well for dogs with missing teeth, poorly aligned jaws, or smaller mouths.
There are several drawbacks for wet food. Some pets will make a mess while eating wet food, and those with a predisposition to developing dental problems will need more attentive dental care. Wet food, once it has been opened, has lost any shelf life it had. It needs to be covered and refrigerated and used quickly before it can spoil. In some cases, wet food is not as economical as dry food. Depending on the quality of the food (and you will want to choose the best quality food within your price range) wet food may be more expensive than dry food, and must be bought in smaller amounts at a time
Dry Pet Foods: Pros and Cons
The most convenient type of food, for storage and for feeding, is dry kibble. The food can be left out for the pet to eat at its own pace without fear of spoilage. In fact, many pet owners appreciate the convenience of filling a bowl with enough food to feed the pet for the entire day, if not days, in the case of cats that are left at home while owners take brief trips away from home.
Dry foods are absolutely a convenience for many pet owners. Food can be left out for hours, if not days, and not spoil. Dry foods are easier to store -- a large plastic bin with a tight lid is usually enough to keep the food fresh and safe from insects and rodents (and from pets) -- and is more economically cost-effective when feeding multiple pets. Dry kibble can also be used as an effective training treat and as a dental health supplement. Some dry foods are specially formulated and shaped to clean the teeth as the animal chews it. It also comes in many different sizes and types, making it easy to find the best food for your pet.
Of course, dry foods do not provide as much moisture as wet foods do, something that becomes more important as an animal ages, when an animal is ill, and in dry, hot climates. In those cases, a wet food diet can be more practical. Dry food can also tend to have lower levels of animal based proteins, which are important for your pet’s development.
The Final Decision
Basically, either of these choices should satisfy your pet’s nutritional requirements as long as they are well balanced and are made with quality ingredients. It’s just a matter of which one will be best for your pet over the long term and which fits your lifestyle. Another option is to choose both wet and dry; mixing them together in the same bowl, or giving the wet food as an occasional “treat.” Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns, since there may be particular considerations for your dog’s breed or age.