Although canned dog food is more expensive than dry kibble, it is often a superior diet according to veterinarians. The cost of canned dog food is commonly quoted as the reason why dog owners avoid feeding their pets wet dog food brands, thus the optimal choice may be mixing dry kibble with the best wet dog food to reap the benefits of both worlds for your pup.
Why wet dog food is better than dry kibble?
There are several benefits to canned dog food:
- Higher water content for improved stools and hydration
- Higher protein content and less filler
- Lower carbohydrate content and no preservatives, flavorings
- It's more appetizing and palatable
Most dog owners agree that their puppies will prefer wet dog food brands over dry kibble. But with the higher cost of canned dog food, not all pet owners on a budget can afford it. In this article, we'll discuss the pros and cons of best canned dog foods, compare them to dry kibble, and list fifteen of the best wet dog food brands for puppies and adult dogs that are affordable:
|Canned Dog Food Brand||Price||Value||Rating|
|Royal Canin 24-Can Canine Health Nutrition||$$$||$0.2/oz|
|NUTRO Small Breed Puppy Chicken||$$$$||$0.7/oz|
|ULTRA Puppy Canned Puppy Food||$$$||$0.3/oz|
|Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Turkey||$$$||$0.21/oz|
|Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy||$$||$0.18/oz|
* Click on the best wet dog food for more information and prices, or scroll down below for more details and dog food reviews and notes.
Before we get into listing the best cheap wet dog foods for puppies, let's briefly compare the types of foods.
Wet dog foods vs dry kibble: Which one's better?
When it comes to comparing dry dog food with wet dog foods, there's no clear winner. But the extra water content in canned dog foods provides additional hydration and improves stools in dogs. Not all dogs drink enough water, thus switching them to wet dog food may be a good solution. There are a number of best canned dog food brands out there that are often highly rated specifically for this reason.
Some of these best wet dog food brands for puppies and adult dogs have a stronger smell, thus making them more appealing and appetizing for your dog. Canned dog foods are also easier to chew and digest than hard, dry kibble. This makes it an optimal dog food option for senior dogs with poor dental health, digestion issues, or those that have lost some of their sense of smell or simply are unwilling to eat enough.
According to National Academies Press, wet dog foods usually contain fewer carbohydrates and higher meat protein concentrations when compared to dry dog foods. Due to the way canned dog food is packaged, most best wet dog foods are less likely to contain preservatives, coloring, and flavorings.
Why dry dog food is more popular than canned dog foods?
It's true that dry kibble is the first go-to choice for the majority of pet owners. In fact, studies even show that a dog owner would often prefer dry dog food brands over canned dog foods. Further research comparing dry dog food vs wet dog food confirms that it's primarily due to pricing. And veterinarians agree that the goods from both worlds, i.e. mixing dry dog foods with the best wet dog foods, may be the best option:
“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. […] 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.” – Veterinarians at PetMD.com
Many veterinarians noticed that a large majority of puppy owners use canned dog food as a treat or as a dog food topper/mixer. They also note that feeding the best wet dog foods on occasion can be beneficial when the dog is ill and/or lost appetite, as it is much more appealing to dogs than dry kibble. Ultimately, it's up to you to chat with your veterinarian to decide whether the best wet dog food is right.
Below, we've researched and picked the top five best wet dog food for puppy (and adult) options that would work for the majority of dogs. However, if none of these brands seem to fit your requirements or your price range, we have another ten alternative options without the descriptions at the bottom of this article.
FULL RANKINGS: Top 25 Best Puppy Food Brands (2018)
What's the Best Wet Dog Food Brand?
2018's top 20 best wet dog foods for puppies (and adult dogs)
Adult Formula: Royal Canin ADULT Beauty Canned Food
- Moisture: 79%
- Protein: 8%
- Fat: 4.5%
- Fiber: 2%
With their accurately formulated diets, this is one of the most vet recommended dog food brands on the market. This top-rated best wet dog food from Royal Canin provides a three-pronged approach to canine health nutrition. Its high energy level reinforces the puppy’s growth and development, its vitamin and mineral content develops and strengthens the dog’s immune system, and its protein-rich fish oil, beet pulp, and other highly digestible proteins support a healthy gastrointestinal function.
Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, chicken, pork by-products, pork liver, rice flour, wheat gluten, dried plain beet pulp, powdered cellulose, fish oil, carrageenan, sodium silico aluminate, calcium carbonate, natural flavors, sodium tripolyphosphate, potassium phosphate, taurine, potassium chloride, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), biotin, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement], trace minerals (zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.).
This food offers complete and balanced nutrition that is soft, easy to chew, and highly digestible – perfect for pups transitioning to a much harder diet later on. Buyers love this food because it is easier for their pups to munch on and digest. Some have found that it is even effective for allergy disorders and abnormal bowel movements.
Royal Canin Canine Health Nutrition Puppy Canned Dog Food is also quick to prepare – by simply pouring out contents in a feeding bowl and adding warm water if a softer consistency is desired. Otherwise, it’s ready to eat right out of the pack. This counts a lot for busy pet parents.
Because it’s so tasty, puppies tend to eat more, but owners caution against excessive weight gain. It is always important to keep on the amount indicated on the package or what the vet prescribes. An unhappy customer noted that the product contains pork by-products. Overall, though, this canned dog food gets the nod of most customers as the main component of their puppy’s diet.
Wet dog food reviews from pet owners: “This is a wonderful product to start your puppies on as well as the hard food. The story I am going to tell you about Royal Canin is remarkable. I have a little Yorkie that has had allergies for 10yrs I spent thousands of dollars on allergy test through out the years and allergy shots…”
Adult Formula: Nutro Max ADULT Canned Food
- Moisture: 82%
- Protein: 9%
- Fat: 4%
- Fiber: 1%
This dog food contains whole and natural ingredients such as real chicken, brown rice, and oatmeal. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives went into the production of this great puppy food from Nutro. It’s a great source of fat, proteins, omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, and zinc for supporting growth and energy and for the development of healthy skin and glossy coats.
Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Beef Liver, Chicken Liver, Wheat Gluten, Pork Plasma, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Whole Brown Rice, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Corn Starch, Dried Carrots, Ground Rice, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Caramel Color, Xanthan Gum, Methionine, Guar Gum, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Chicory Pulp, Sodium Ascorbate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, L-Carnitine, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2).
A pack of the Nutro Small Breed variant contains 25 trays, each containing 3.5 ounces of delicious ready-to-feed wet food. Other variants are also available. The Nutro Puppy variant contains 12 cans of puppy food, each can weighing 12.5 ounces. The Nutro Adult variant is formulated for adult dogs, and a pack contains 12 12.5-ounce cans.
Customers who have been buying this product for quite some time say that they don’t have a difficult time feeding their puppies with this food. In fact, the puppies are always excited about meal time with this dog food. They say that Nutro Canned Dog Food – Wholesome Essentials smells really good even for humans, and are delighted to find their puppies enjoying premium food. Nutritious dog foods are not always appealing to dogs, and they feel that this best wet dog food is such a great find.
Not all buyers use this exclusively for their dogs’ nourishment. Some find it a good way to perk up their main meal of dry dog food and to offer variation in flavor. In sum, dogs love this food, it is made from real and natural ingredients, it contains the nutrients that pups need to grow healthy, and it contains no artificial ingredients. For these reasons, buyers believe that they’ve found the best wet dog food for their brood and will continue buying this until such time that their young ones will need another kind of food.
Wet dog food reviews from pet owners: “One thing I don’t like in my foods are artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors. I try to do the best by my animals and try to stay away from junk foods. I certainly am willing to pay what I can afford in order to steer clear of detrimental ingredients. The Nutro Tender Chicken & Rice Recipe won’t be Storm’s main diet, but rather…”
Adult Formula: Nutro Ultra ADULT Canned Food
Size: 24 x 3.5 oz cans
Price for value: $0.3/oz
- Moisture: 78%
- Protein: 9%
- Fat: 6.5%
- Fiber: 1%
This wet dog food is available in several styles and formulations including puppy, adult, adult small breed, adult large breed, and senior. Each of these variants from Nutro Ultra contains three kinds of lean protein sources, such as high-quality chicken, lamb, and salmon. It is enriched with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and sunflower oil to provide a perfectly balanced food source.
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Spinach, Tomatoes, Lamb, Salmon, Egg Product, Brown Rice, Herring Meal, Blueberries, Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Rolled Oats, Brewers Dried Yeast, Natural Flavors, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Yam, Xanthan Gum, Alfalfa Meal, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Blueberry Pomace, Cranberry Pomace, Dried Avocado, Dried Pomegranate, Guar Gum, Dried Pumpkin, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, L-Carnitine, Taurine, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Potassium Iodide, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement
This best wet dog food is packed with antioxidants to promote a strong immune system. Its premium protein sources and essential amino acids build a lean muscle system, and a high omega fatty acid content supports healthy skin and coat.
Most customers started on this product line with the variant for puppies. They are extremely satisfied with how healthy and active their pooches have grown. This led them to explore the other products produced by this brand. Using Nutro Ultra Holistic Superfood Wet Dog Food for their adult and senior dogs, they found out that these formulas worked perfectly, too. Dogs with medical issues benefited from this premium food, including dogs with arthritis and allergies, or those who underwent surgery.
A few dogs didn’t find this dog food appealing, although they’d eat it when mixed with their regular meal. A buyer was quite unfortunate for having bought a bad batch online, although he’s so convinced about the product’s value that he still continues buying it from his pet supplies store. Overall, customers like the contents of this food and believe that it is critical for their pets’ good health.
Wet dog food reviews from pet owners: “I started my furbabies with Nutro, 14 years ago and then switched. Most recently my senior began to experience joint problems and I put her back on Nutro. I feel good knowing that this product is a premium brand dog food, and Brandigirl enjoys the veggies and light gravy. But most important for me is…”
Adult Formula: Wellness CORE ADULT Natural Canned Food
- Moisture: 78%
- Protein: 12%
- Fat: 8%
- Fiber: 0.5%
Wellness wet canned dog food is sold at the same price for all its varieties. It comes in various preparations appropriate for unique dog needs, such as puppy nourishment and adult weight management. It is also available in tasty choices of (a) Turkey and Chicken, (b) Whitefish, Salmon, and Herring, (c) Beef, Venison, and Lamb, and (d) Turkey, Pork, and Duck.
Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Turkey Broth, Herring, Chicken Meal, Menhaden Fish Oil, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Kelp, Alfalfa Meal, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement.
Packs are available in 12 pieces of 12.5-oz cans and 24 pieces of 6-oz cans. Customers prefer this best wet dog food because there’s room for variety without compromising quality. This dog food has been an essential factor for the recovery of dogs with various health issues including bladder stones, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and bad breath.
After comparing the ingredients of Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Dog Food with others, including those endorsed by vets, they were convinced that this brand was way above the rest. For them, the most reliable testament to the goodness of this dog food is their dogs’ great health and energy, and glossy coats that are the constant envy of other pet owners.
Buyers agree that it does cost a little higher than other dog foods, but considering that the cheaper options contained artificial ingredients, meat by-products, corn, and other questionable components, these pet owners are willing to pay the higher price. Generally, buyers continue buying this brand either as their dogs’ main meal or as a supplement mixed in with their pets’ regular meal. As long as this dog food is helping their dogs, these customers believe that even the higher price tag is all worth it.
Wet dog food reviews from pet owners: “My dog has lots of allergies and this grain free canned food is high quality and easily tolerated. It is a bit pricey, but you do get a value here. I have never seen or heard of any recalls with this brand. I have fed this to my dog for over 8 years…”
Adult Formula: Wellness Complete Health ADULT Natural Canned Dog Food
- Moisture: 78%
- Protein: 9%
- Fat: 7%
- Fiber: 1%
Here comes a complete line of healthy dog food for all stages in the life of your mutt. There are different flavors available of this best wet dog food, too, to beat the monotony of the same dog meal given day in and day out. This dog food from Wellness is sold at the same price for the different varieties available, namely: Puppy, Senior, Chicken, and Sweet Potato, Lamb and Sweet Potato, Duck and Sweet Potato, Turkey and Sweet Potato, Venison and Sweet Potato, and Whitefish and Sweet Potato.
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Salmon (A Natural Source of DHA, Docosahexaenoic Acid), Sweet Potatoes, Ground Barley, Carrots, Ground Flaxseed, Canola Oil, Apples, Pears, Bananas, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Carrageenan, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Biotin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement.Plus Vitamins and MineralsThis is a naturally preserved product.
It is sold in packs of 12 (12.5-oz can) and 24 (6-oz can). Pet owners who have fed their puppies this food attest to its goodness. It also mattered to them that transitioning to adult food and senior food under this same brand was very easy. By doing this, they have the assurance that their dog gets the same quality and holistic nutritional value appropriate for their age and energy level.
Even dogs that had been fed raw dog food for many years transitioned beautifully to this food. Undoubtedly, this is a much more convenient way of feeding dogs than raw food. And pet owners are only too happy that they’re not compromising their dog’s health when they opted to switch to Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Dog Food.
Some pet owners who ordered this online were disappointed to receive damaged cans. If only that aspect of their purchase would be resolved, they’d be completely happy about this product. Except for that problem in handling, customers highly value this product because it is made of authentic ingredients, provides optimal nutrition, and comes in delicious flavors that are highly appealing to dogs.
Wet dog food reviews from pet owners: “Our dog has been eating wellness canned dog food for years. He loves it and is very healthy and full of energy. Over the last couple of months we have bought several cases of this dog food both from Amazon and the local pet store that have completely changed in consistency…”
15 Best Cheap Wet Dog Foods as Alternatives
The above list of the five best wet dog food for puppies (and adult dogs) was picked based on our thorough research, consultations, and assessment of each canned dog food brand. However, some owners may find those five particular options of canned dog foods not suitable for their puppy or outside of their price range. If that's the case for you, take a look at ten more options of the best cheap wet dog foods that may be better:
6. Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate
(13.2 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 10.30% / Fat 5.50% / Fiber 1.40% / Moisture 81.00%
- Adult: Merrick Classic Grain-Free Turducken
7. Newman's Own Formula for Puppies
(12.7 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 8% / Fat 5.5% / Fiber 1% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: Newman's Own Chicken & Brown Rice Formula
8. BLUE Homestyle Puppy Food
(12.5 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 10% / Fat 7.5% / Fiber 1.3% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: BLUE Homestyle Adult Food
9. BLUE Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dog Food
(12.5 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 10.5% / Fat 9% / Fiber 1.5% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: BLUE Wilderness Grain-Free Adult Food
10. Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe
(12.7 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 9% / Fat 6.5% / Fiber 1.4% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe
11. Hill's Science Diet Puppy Food
(13 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 7.4% / Fat 5% / Fiber 1.5% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: Hill's Science Diet Adult Food
12. NUTRO MAX Puppy Formula
(12.5 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 9% / Fat 6% / Fiber 1% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: NUTRO MAX Adult Food
13. IAMS PROACTIVE Health Puppy Food
(13 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein 7% / Fat 4% / Fiber 1.5% / Moisture 84%
14. Natural Balance Original Ultra Puppy Formula
(13 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 9.5% / Fat 8% / Fiber 1.5% / Moisture 78%
- Adult: Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Adult Formula
15. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Entree Classic
(13 oz / Pack of 12)
- Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 10% / Fat 7% / Fiber 1.5% / Moisture 76%
- Adult: Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult
Now it's your turn to pitch in. Have you tried giving any of these canned dog foods to your canine, and how did he react? Was your dog happy with the switch in the diet, or did he hate it? Please share your observations with other pet owners in the comments below!