Hard vs. Soft Dog Food

Walking down the aisle at your local pet store can be quite the daunting task with its never-ending shelves of dog goodies. Weigh your options between the hard, dry foods and soft, moist varieties before making your choice. If you're still unsure, ask your vet for suggestions.


Dry Food Pros

Hard, dry dog food comes in small pieces or pellets and is stored in a bag. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests asking your vet to recommend a dry dog food to keep your pooch's teeth and gums clean. This is especially important if your pooch is having tartar or plaque problems. Eating dry food works those jaw muscles and helps with your doggie's urge to chew on things. It also helps to keep his stools regular and firm. Dry food is more convenient and is usually less expensive than soft, wet food.

Dry Food Cons

Both opened and unopened dry food has a lower shelf life than an unopened can of wet food. Dry food can lose some of its nutrient value during processing and baking. It has also has more preservatives and fillers than soft dog food to keep it from spoiling.

Soft Food Pros

Soft dog food has a soft, moist texture and is usually found in a can. According to DogFoodAdvisor.com, wet dog food often has more meat protein and less carbohydrates than dry varieties. Canned food is often less processed and has lower amounts of fillers. Wet food has a sealed container so there is no need for synthetic preservatives, artificial flavors or coloring. The can that holds the wet food will keep the fats and oils from becoming rancid. Some dogs prefer softer food to chow down; if your pooch has sore teeth and gums or has had teeth removed, it will cause less pain while he eats. Since there is such a high water content in wet food, it will make an overweight dog feel more full without adding extra calories. Wet food can also help a dehydrated dog or a dog that has been refusing to eat his regular dry food.

Soft Food Cons

Soft dog food usually costs more than dry varieties. Unused portions must be refrigerated within an hour of opening the can or it must be thrown out. If you have leftover wet dog food, it can be left in the fridge for two or three days before it must be tossed. Bacteria can easily grow on this type of food, and you don't want to get your doggie sick. Since this type is sticky, it can get caught in your dog's teeth and cause dental issues if you don't keep up on brushing his pearly whites.


If you want to transition a dog from soft to dry food, you shouldn't do it all at once. Transition over a week, starting by replacing one-quarter of the wet with dry and mix the two together. On the third day, mix equal parts of dry and wet food. A couple of days later make it a 75 percent dry mixed with 25 percent wet. On the seventh day, give a full serving of dry food.


Regardless of what type of food, your dog needs the proper nutrients to stay healthy. Choose a high-quality dog food with the proper amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water for your dog's size, breed, activity level and age. Ask your vet or dog breeder which dog food is best for your dog.

By Susan Revermann


About the Author
Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.