It seems that there are more dog food options than ever before, which can be a blessing and a curse. Even after deciding between canned or dry food, you have dozens of brands to choose from. Today, we’ll be looking at the best wet food for dogs, as well as what to look for in a canned formula.
Top 10 Best Canned Dog Foods in 2020
Below you’ll find our top 10 picks for canned dog food. To find the top picks in wet dog food, we looked at things like nutritional quality and balance, protein selection, and ingredients. We also wanted to include options for dogs with food allergies and sensitive skin, as well as recipes to suit different life stages.
Best for Older Dogs
Best for Puppies
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet
Best for Dogs With Allergies
Nature’s Variety Instinct
Best for All Life Stages
Best for Healthy Skin and Coat
Taste of the Wild
Best for Picky Dogs
Best Protein Boost
Best Minimally Processed
Best Balanced Meal
1. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe – Best for Older Dogs
For senior dogs who need some extra help in the nutrition department, Blue Buffalo is here to serve. Their wet food is easy to chew and swallow, great for older dogs who might be missing teeth. Plus, the Blue Buffalo brand prides itself on including real meat as the first ingredient of their recipes. This Homestyle Recipe contains deboned white-meat chicken and no gluten or poultry by-products.
Instead, it relies on complex whole grains like brown rice to provide carbohydrates and fiber that your dog needs. The chelated minerals in this formula contribute to a healthy, shiny coat so that your old buddy feels his best. He’ll also get an energy boost from the vegetables, berries, amino acids, and Vitamin B12.
- More affordable option
- Supports a healthy coat
- Chicken could be problematic for some dogs
2. CANIDAE PURE – Best for Puppies
It’s crucial to choose a great dog food for your puppy to help them grow up healthy and strong. A top choice is Canidae Grain-Free PURE Foundations, a formula designed for developing puppies. This wet formula contains chicken, eggs, and peas simmered in chicken broth and can be considered a limited ingredient formula.
Free of grains and protein by-products, it will set your pup up for success and a strong future ahead of them. The simple ingredients and lack of common allergens like corn, soy, and wheat, allow for easier digestion. High-quality chicken provides ample protein for growing dogs, and mineral supplements ensure a healthy, vital body.
- Free of corn, grain, soy, and wheat
- Limited ingredients for sensitive puppies
- Supports better digestion
- Contains chicken (a potential allergen)
3. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet – Best for Dogs With Allergies
What could be better than lamb? Lamb that’s paired with quality nutrition and delicious flavor, just like the Merrick Limited Ingredient Real Lamb Recipe. Free of chicken, grains, and potato, this formula will be perfect for dogs with sensitive skin and tummies. The ingredients were carefully selected to bring optimal nutrition and great flavor to pups without a laundry list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. The result is a specially-formulated wet dog food that includes single-source protein, amino acids, and easily digestible carbs.
Real, deboned lamb is the first ingredient, followed by lamb liver and pea protein for a strong, lean pup. Vitamin and mineral supplements include folic acid, biotin, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B12, D3, and E. Amino acids give dogs energy while the essential fatty acids support coat health.
- Free of artificial colors, chicken, grains, and potato
- Suits dogs with skin allergies and sensitive stomachs
- Supports a healthy, shiny coat
4. Nature’s Variety Instinct – Best for All Life Stages
For a wet dog food that you can feed to a pup at any life stage, turn to Nature’s Variety. Their Instinct Wet line features original recipes and stews that will have your dog’s mouth-watering. The Original Real Beef Recipe is grain-free and high-protein, with USA-raised beef as the first ingredient. It contains 95% beef and 5% liver along with a variety of fruits and veggies for a complete, balanced meal. It’s also free of corn, potato, soy, and wheat; common food allergens among dogs.
This recipe comes in a delightful meatloaf texture and contains ample minerals and vitamins to keep your pup thriving no matter their age. A snapshot of the ingredients includes artichokes, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, peas, pumpkin, eggs, flaxseed, and beef broth. Please your dog’s taste buds while helping them get a shiny coat and a strong body.
- Contains ingredients from the USA
- Free of corn, grain, potato, soy, and wheat
- Omega fatty acids support a healthy coat
5. Purina One – Best Healthy-on-a-Budget
Purina’s Smartblend products are committed to providing high-quality ingredients free of by-products and fillers. The Lamb & Brown Rice Entree relies on real ingredients to achieve its flavor, which your dog will love. Real turkey is the first ingredient on the list, followed by turkey broth, chicken, pork lungs, liver, and venison. This is a protein-packed canned food that your dog will drool over.
Vitamins and minerals are added to round out the meal, such as choline, folic acid, zinc, and manganese. You can feel good feeding this to your pup, as it’s free of grains, artificial colors and flavors, and weird fillers.
- More affordable and easy to find
- No artificial colors or flavors
- Omega fatty acids for skin health
- Contains chicken, which might cause allergic reactions in some dogs
6. Royal Canin – Best for Healthy Skin and Coat
Dogs should look good and feel good, and Royal Canin is a dog food brand that understands this. Their products are tailored to specific breeds and health concerns, such as weight management and skin health. Their Adult Beauty Canned Dog Food is a great choice for smaller dogs with skin and coat issues. Served on its own or as a kibble topping, this recipe is sure to be a hit.
Omega-6 fatty acids nourish your pet from the inside out, becoming apparent in the sparkle and shine of their coat. A blend of vitamins and amino acids soothe dry skin to make your pup feel more comfortable. Balanced ingredients such as beet pulp, fish oil, and chicken hit optimal nutrient ratios. Mineral supplements ensure that dogs get the fiber they need.
- Good for dogs with sensitive skin
- Moderately priced
- Soothes dry skin and nourishes coat
- Contains pork by-products
- Intended for small breeds
7. Taste of the Wild – Best for Picky Dogs
Taste of the Wilds dry dog food is phenomenal, so it’s no surprise that its canned formula is also a winner. Their High Prairie Canine Formula is sure to please your furry companion. First of all, it contains bison in gravy. There is also lamb, ocean fish, and venison for a serious protein and flavor kick. The animal protein is paired with sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, and raspberries for all that natural goodness. Beef and vegetable broth brings everything together.
This is a complete diet that can serve as your dog’s regular nourishment. Its antioxidants, amino acids, and highly-digestible carbs (no grains though!) will keep your pup feeling fine.
- Filled with fruits and veggies
- Grain-free, easily digestible carbs
- Lots of quality protein
8. Wellness CORE – Best Protein Boost
For dogs who need an extra jolt of protein, Wellness CORE is a solid choice. Their grain-free turkey, pork liver, and duck formula is chock-full of quality animal protein free of antibiotics and fillers. Its lack of grains and chicken means that it’s an allergy-friendly choice, too. Along with the protein, this recipe contains healthy botanicals and additional supplements such as Vitamins B12 and D3 and riboflavin.
The first five ingredients are protein-packed, making it a delicious high-protein canned dog food. The formula manages to balance out in terms of the nutrient breakdown thanks to controlled portions and loads of greens. Your dog will taste the meaty goodness while also getting the benefits of broccoli, dried kelp, kale, spinach, and sweet potato. Just be aware that it contains about 500 calories per can.
- Balanced nutrition
- Contains loads of vegetables
- Higher calorie content
9. Weruva – Best Minimally Processed
For doggie parents who are worried about feeding their furballs food that is packed with questionable ingredients and additives, Weruva is here to help. They are an awesome brand that offers dog food free of antibiotics and hormones, and there are even poultry-free and fish-free recipes, too.
Their Peking Ducken flavor contains protein from cage-free chicken and duck for 47.5% protein content. Your pup will load up on the veggies too, thanks to carrot and spinach included in the recipe. Your dog will also get plenty of vitamins and minerals in each serving, including Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, D3, and E, zinc, folic acid, and choline.
Even though this food is minimally processed, it doesn’t skimp on taste and texture. Try out a pate or puree, or maybe a stew or gravy recipe. Unfortunately, these cans typically come in cases of 12 or 24, so if your pup doesn’t like it, you’re stuck with it.
- Made with cage-free poultry (or no poultry)
- Minimizes questionable ingredients
- Variety of flavors and textures available
- Only available in packs
10. Zignature Duck – Best Balanced Meal
The Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula takes the bad stuff out and while keeping the good in. It makes for an ingredients list that isn’t huge and lists a quality animal protein as the first item. Duck is a protein source that is widely tolerated by dogs with food allergies, and this recipe contains farm-raised French duck. Talk about fancy!
The formula is also grain-free and lacks common allergens like chicken, corn, soy, and wheat. Legumes like peas and chickpeas, as well as flaxseed and alfalfa meal, provide antioxidants and essential fatty acids for extra health. This is a low-sodium, high-fiber canned dog food that you can feel good about. Supplemented vitamins A and B12, as well as riboflavin, make for a complete meal.
- Complete nutrition and antioxidant-rich
- Free of common allergens
- Low in sodium
- Only one protein source
Canned Dog Food Benefits and Drawbacks
The question of whether to purchase wet or dry dog food doesn’t have a definitive answer. It depends on things like your dog’s age and health, as well as how much money you’re willing to spend. To help you decide, here’s a look at some advantages and disadvantages of canned dog food.
First of all, canned food tends to require fewer preservatives and added ingredients to maintain freshness, which could be a benefit. If you’re steering clear of additives, you’ll have far better luck with wet food.
Another advantage is that wet food is usually lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and fat than dry food. For example, dry food typically contains between 18 and 32% protein, while wet food contains a minimum of around 28% protein and can go up to 50%. This means that your dog is more likely to get optimal nutrition from canned food rather than dry kibble.
If you have an older dog or one that is missing teeth, wet food can be more palatable and easier to chew. For doggies on a diet, canned food can feel more filling and satisfying, thanks to its broths and meaty juices. It’ll also be more likely to win over a picky eater. If your pooch turns her nose up at dry kibble, she’ll probably tear into some wet food!
That being said, dry food can promote better dental health because it helps to scrape plaque build-up off your dog’s teeth as she chews. Wet food is too soft for that.
Also, unopened canned food can last for a good while, but once it’s opened, you need to use it up quickly to avoid spoilage. It’s hard to store half-eaten cans in a way that maintains freshness.
Another downside is cost. Stocking up on canned food can also result in a higher bill, as individual cans are more expensive than many dry kibbles. Even some bulk packages of canned food can be quite expensive.
What to Look for When Buying Canned Dog Food
Even though all the cans in the store might look the same, not all recipes are created equally. Definite winners and losers are lurking in the dog food aisle, but if you’re not sure what to look for, how can you know what to choose? Here are some buying tips for selecting a premium wet recipe that you’ll feel good about feeding to Fido.
All dogs need some combination of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. While humans need carbohydrates, this macronutrient is not essential for a dog’s health. That being said, they can potentially provide some extra energy for dogs, but they need to be the right kind of carbs – easily digestible and not corn or wheat. Moreover, only around 15% of a dog’s diet should consist of carbs. What they need is complete protein sources so they can grow strong, lean muscles. A complete protein is one that contains the essential amino acids that dogs can’t produce in their bodies.
Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods load up on carbs while skimping on quality protein. Why? Well, it’s cheaper to make that way. However, too many carbs and not enough protein will result in a lethargic dog and unintended weight gain. Also, try to limit protein by-products, as they’re often the discarded bits that are left over after an animal is slaughtered.
As for fat, it serves as an energy source for dogs, providing calories as well as nutrients. Healthy fatty acids like omega-3s and 6s fight inflammation and support the health of your dog’s skin, coat, brain, and joints. They also help your pup’s body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D.
Vitamins and Minerals
Speaking of vitamins, your pooch requires plenty of vitamins and minerals to function at her best. Just like many humans take a daily multivitamin, dogs need some vitamin and mineral supplements, too. Fortunately, there are lots of canned dog foods that add these into their recipes, either through supplementation or an ingredient such as a whole grain, fruit, or veggie.
Essential vitamins that your dog needs include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. Vital minerals include calcium, chloride, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc. Lots of dog foods contain chelated minerals, which means they’ve been chemically bonded to protein molecules to allow for easier digestion.
Again, you might not see these micronutrients explicitly listed in the ingredients because they could be in the form of actual food. For example, vitamin A is present in carrots and sweet potatoes while vitamin K is many dark leafy greens.
You’ll also want to keep your dog’s specific health needs in mind when choosing canned food. Just because a can says that it will provide optimal health, that doesn’t mean it will be a great fit for your pooch. Savvy dog owners know that an investment in quality nutrition is an investment in their pup’s life.
To recap, you want a canned dog food that contains:
- An easy-to-digest, complete protein (meat, fish)
- Healthy fatty acids (omega 3s and 6s)
- Essential vitamins and minerals (in the form of fruits, veggies, and supplements)
Your dog isn’t able to distinguish which canned food will best support his health, so it’s up to you. Now that you know what kinds of ingredients to look for and which brands deliver optimal nutrition, you can feel better about what you’re giving your beloved pup at mealtime.