Healthy Nutrition in a Can – Everything About Canned Dog Food

Dog nutrition has never been easier, what with the many types of canned dog food that are available. Long gone are the days when you spend long hours cooking meals for your dog. Those were the moments when you would seek to enrich the meal for the very best nutrition for Fido.

Now, with a glance at a label, dog owners can select delectable foods for their canine companions. Why? They have now trusted their dogs’ nutrition with commercially prepared dog food in a can.

Comparison Table:

But is there anything wrong here? Not unless you ignore your trusty friend’s demeanor when she is trying to tell you this one does not work for her.

Other Types of Dog Food

Dog owners have been serving up different types of dog food to their canine friends for many years and there are several types of dog food to choose from.

Canned vs dry food

These include dry dog food and semi-moist dog food.

1. Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food, also called kibble is popular among dog owners as it is economical, and is able to last a long time without refrigeration. This food has just about 10% water content and is often made with grains and other fibre, therefore giving the dog a firmer stool. Chewing on the crunchy contents also assists the cleaning of the teeth and gum reducing the build-up of tartar.

2. Semi-moist Dog Food

In the supermarket semi-moist dog food has the appearance of pork chops, burgers or other meaty foods. It carries a high water content of 60% – 65%. This food is usually easy to eat and more palatable because of its high salt and sugar content. However, semi-moist food tends to lack in nutritional value, and contains artificial flavors and colorings. Semi-moist food is more suitable for occasional treats than as regular meal for your dog.

All About Canned Dog Food

Canned dog food

Canned food, or wet food, is packed in a can similar to tinned foods produced for human consumption. Dogs tend to enjoy this type of food as it is more flavorful and appetizing given the fact that the meat ingredients are closer to their natural state. Unlike other types of dog food, canned food contains the highest water content: about 70%.

Although canned food can be expensive, when compared to the dry food counterpart, it contains higher amounts of protein, and fats, and way lower carbohydrates (Dog Food Advisor, 2015).

Type Protein Fats Carbohydrate
Dry Food 18 – 32% 8 – 22% 46 – 74%
Canned Food 28 – 50% 20 – 32% 18 – 57%


Due to the fact that foods are packed in air tight containers, there is very little need for preservatives. Oils and fats therefore remain intact without spoilage.  One of its biggest advantages is its long shelf life and can be expensive for this reason.

Do not underestimate how canned food can help the dog with dietary problems. The high water content in canned foods does cause the dog to feel full quickly, therefore making him eat less and lose weight. Older dogs are often plagued with dental issues, making it difficult to chew hard dry kibble. Wet and easy to chew, canned food is often the solution at this life stage.

You can take canned food a step further and make it even healthier for your dog by adding some ingredients in your very own kitchen. We have a great list of recipes in our article teaching pet owners how to make dog food at home.

Canned dog food

Of course, wet food does not measure up to dry food in some areas. Canned food is mainly meat products and is easy to chew, providing very little opportunity for dental care as would happen when chewing fibrous hard kibble.  Another disadvantage is that canned food gets spoilt easily when exposed even for a short time and its longevity lasts just for feed time. Left overs must be refrigerated or disposed of.

Dog Food Nutrition

For most dogs, dog food sold in the store is the only source of nutrient for them. It therefore means that when selecting dog food, there should be every effort to ensure that the animal gets if not all, as close to maximum nutrients for healthy growth and maintenance.

At least one should follow the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in providing balanced food for dogs. Let’s take a brief look at what constitute a balanced diet.

Balanced dog food

Carbohydrate – Dog food that supplies carbohydrate does not only provide dogs with energy, but also keeps their bowels free and keep them feeling full for longer. A diet that includes grain, such as corn, rice, barley, and oats is essential for the good health of the bowels. Note however that some dogs are allergic to the gluten that is found in carbohydrate products.

Protein – A key ingredient in a dog’s diet is protein. This nutrient is responsible for repairing and building cells, and creating strong muscles. Dog food that contains high meat protein ingredients such as chicken, beef, rabbit, turkey and forms of fish support good nutrition of the dog.

Fats – An important element of dog nutrition is fats that must be provided in the food that they eat. Fat supplies a lot of the energy that a dog needs, and taste and flavor too, according to PetMD. This food element also takes care of the skin, giving nice shiny and healthy coat usually the envy of all. A good dog’s diet will include 10 – 15% of fat that can be found in poultry, vegetable oil, soybean oil and fish oil (PetMD).

Vitamin and mineral – Dog nutrition must also include vitamins and mineral food sources for overall good health, aid in digestion and assistance in fighting diseases. Fruits and vegetables are the more common sources. However, meat, legumes, and grains are also important ingredients for this aspect of dog health.

Water – The value of water is often overlooked for the more established nutrients that are considered good for healthy living. However, like all other nutrients water is essential for the proper functioning of the dog’s body. While other nutrients enable dog growth, water is necessary to rid the body of waste, regulate body temperature, transport nutrients to the different organs, and prevent dehydration.

Keep in mind that your dog may be allergic to some of the ingredients mentioned above, so if you’d like to avoid these, take a look at our article on the best dog food options for canines with allergies.

Selecting Wet Dog Food

The first thing to look for in canned dog food is the source of protein which would be meat from animals such as chicken, beef, poultry, etc. Meat usually forms the weightier portion of the content and is usually listed first. Canned foods do indicate any grain content in their foods. Look also at indications of vegetable or meat by-products which should be named.

Very importantly, seek to determine what “complete and balanced” means. It should mean that the food contains all the nutrients as set out in the AAFCO regulations. Foods meant therefore as supplements cannot be complete and balanced. Gluten and other forms of thickening agents such as carrageenan may not be wholesome and can be a source of allergy.

How to read a dog food label

So examine the label carefully for indications. Sugars and other sweeteners, colorings and flavorings are not necessary as dog food is presented as close as possible to the natural source (Kerns, 2015).

Top Picks Best Canned Dog Food for Your Best Friend

There are literally tons of canned dog foods on the market. Generally, dog food manufacturers have improved on their offerings in more recent times, and dog health is considered more seriously. Many of them however must be examined for the nutritional content they are purported to contain, and to identify ingredients that may not be good for dog health.

Many foods have received top reviews and are established as among the best canned food for dogs. The following list has been selected from among the best wet foods.

1. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo


Blue Buffalo carries several recipes in its line of canned dog foods. Among them are Blue Buffalo Blue’s Stews Hunter’s Stew, Blue Buffalo Blue’s Stews Hearty Beef Stew, and Blue Buffalo Blue’s Stews Irish Lamb Stew. Using the Blue Buffalo Blue’s Stews Hearty Beef Stew as a reference, they have listed a raft of ingredients that are good for the animal’s health. Beef is derived from slaughtered cattle and suggests fresh, clean meat filled with the amino acids that are essential for good health.

The inclusion of peas fills the gap for carbohydrates, protein, and fibre. Egg with its high nutritional value is easy to digest. Gluten products used as a thickening in dog food are controversial. Blue Buffalo has however managed to use alternatives of potato and guar gum while adding to the carbohydrate content.

2. EVO



EVO presents one canned food in its line of products. It’s Turkey and Chicken Formula is a mixture of turkey, chicken, turkey broth, chicken broth, chicken meal, herring, carrots, whole egg, salmon meal, and a range of enhancing ingredients. Aside from its richness in protein, note the inclusion of herring and salmon meal that adds that all-important omega-3 fatty acids that is so vital for skin and joint health, and protection against allergies and inflammation. This product is claimed to meet the AAFCO’s standard for dog nutrient profile.

3. Canidae



The Canidae brand is an array of products all lined up for dogs of all life stages. The product includes a set of grain-free formulas that is all protein-filled. The grain-free formulas carry the “PURE” label on each can indicating the type of meat that is provided.

Another set of products suggests that grain is included, but with the same richness in protein. Canidae’s products are tested for melamine and cyanuric acids as part of the company’s commitment to healthy dogs.

4. Dogswell



This product has a line of six recipes all made grain-free. Additionally, all have potatoes included in them, and a raft of other food additions such as cranberry and blueberry, a major effort to produce a more balanced meal.

With 44% protein, 25% carbohydrate, and 22% fat content in the Vitality Duck and Sweet Potato Stew, dogs will be happy with a nutritious meal.  Duck products however may not be used as an elimination product as these contain another meat kind.

5. Holistic Select

Holistic Select


The Holistic Select is another grain-free product and if their beef pate is anything to go by, dogs are in for a healthy meal. The product boasts a line of six recipes that are presented in the form of pates.

The dog dinner identifies beef, pork liver, chicken meal, whitefish, and flaxseed as major ingredients. Along with others, Holistic Select products are said to have a huge protein content of 55%, fat at 27%, and carbohydrate at only 10%.

6. FirstMate



Here is a range of canned dog foods for every need. There are limited ingredients editions that include chicken, salmon, and turkey formulas. The Classic formulas are made for maintenance, trim, and light, and high-performance dogs.

Then there is that set that is touted as grain-free and there are also a number of fish recipes that are sourced from natural sources in the United States. The foods do not include the controversial carrageenan.

7. Lotus



Although not AAFCO indicated, the Lotus brand carries three lines of recipes mostly chicken, or beef and asparagus. The ingredients in the chicken formula result in a protein content of 50%, fat at 20%, and carbohydrate at 22%. The presence of asparagus, blueberries, and carrot provides vitamins especially B-12, and also minerals good for dog health.

There are additions of salmon oil, green-lipped mussels and flax seed, foods that are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and excellent for dogs’ health. Unwholesome thickeners are avoided and a potato starch alternative makes Lotus more desirable.

8. Merrick



Both Merrick’s Classic brand formulas and Chunky dog brand recipes are heavily meat-based and for this they get five star ratings. Both foods are claimed to be AAFCO nutrient approved. With up to twenty-two recipes in the classic line, the ingredients include rich meat content good to supply the necessary amino acids that the dog needs.

The classic cowboy cookout for example has a protein content of 47%, 16% fat and carbohydrates of 29%. Few unwholesome foods have been identified, however, including carrageenan, canola oil, and natural caramel.

9. Wellness



The Wellness brand carries a line of products that are all top-quality ingredients. The Wellness Core product for example is a grain-free formula that comes in six canned foods, each designed for a specific stage of life. The turkey, turkey liver and chicken liver recipes are a combination of chicken, turkey, chicken and turkey liver, sweet potatoes, carrot, and apples.

The company has also included a number of vegetable ingredients – spinach, parsley, broccoli, and kale for added vitamins and minerals. The protein content is at a high of 55%, while fat remains at 36%. This dog food however includes minimal carbohydrates, suggesting that it can be used as a mixer.

10. Wild Calling

Wild Calling


Wild Calling has eleven recipes in canned food form; but the Wild Calling’s Hoppy’s, Grassland, and Rainbow River (5 star) are the standouts in this line of wet dog foods.

The Wild Calling Grassland for example indicates high meat and fat content that some users identify as good for their dog’s health. The carbohydrate content however is on the low side – 6% only, suggesting that it can be mixed with other types to give a complete meal.

11. Evanger’s



The Evanger’s brand means serious dog nutrition, as much as several of them suggest that they are for supplemental feeding only. However, complete meals such as the lamb and rice dinner from the classic line receive the pick of the pack. The ingredients include lamb meat, rice, liver, and an array of supplements to supply several vitamins and minerals.

Note is made here of the care in ensuring that products such as the type of yeast and minerals included are safe for the animal. Having a protein content of 41%, a fat level of 18%, and carbohydrate amassing 33%, make this classic dinner an excellent canned product.

12. Go! Fit and Free

Go Fit and Free


With just two recipes listed under this brand, the Go! Fit and Free foods are the dream of every dog. Take for example the Grain Free Chicken, Turkey, and Trout Stew recipe; this is chock-full of chicken and chicken liver, turkey and turkey liver, dried egg whites, potatoes, peas, trout, carrot, and herring. This is not excellent only for the protein it contains, but also for the omega-3 nutrient that is derived from the fish content.

The manufacturers have also injected a range of ingredients to supply a host of minerals and vitamins, securing the best health for dogs. Whatever the species, your dog deserves good nutrition as they cannot make their own food. As a member of the family, you will want Fido to enjoy his food. There are tons of dog food that lay on the store’s shelves ready for your dog’s dish.

If you’re looking for more natural options for your dog, consider our article on dog food reviews for discerning pet owners.

Canned foods are ever so convenient and so appetizing that dogs would never pass them by.

It is important, however, to learn how to identify the best of these foods so that dogs can get all the valuable nutrients for growth and glow.