Canned Food or Kibble?

Which is better for my dog? Dry kibble or canned food? It’s a difficult question to answer. The answer comes down to quality and your dog.

Your dog may have a health condition that makes wet food a better choice such as dental disease. You may have a small or senior dog who has trouble chewing dry kibble, or a picky-eater who prefers the crunch of dry food.

People have been told both perspectives as if they were fact. Some people say that dry kibble is better for your dog and will even clean his teeth. Other people believe that only canned wet foods are good for dogs. The trouble is that each product can have their downfalls. Each need to be looked at for their benefits to individual dogs.

As pet owners, it is our job to be educated about our pet’s diet so that we can give them the best to our knowledge.

Some general cons apply to both kinds of feed.


Cons of Kibble and Canned Diets:


  • Preservatives

    Examples: Ethoxyquin, Sorbic acid, calcium propionate, BHA, BHT. Since canned foods are sealed air-tight during the canning process, preservatives are not always necessary. Thus, with a canned food you can sometimes avoid preservatives altogether.
    Preservatives are well known for causing a host of diseases. Ethoxyquin, BHT, and BHA are known carcinogens. Preservatives are harsh on the digestive tract and immune system. It is best that you avoid all synthetic preservatives. Look instead for natural preservatives like Rosemary Extract and Mixed Tocopherols, a form of Vitamin E.

  • Colorings

    Examples: Red #40, yellow 6, yellow 5, Blue 2, titanium dioxide and caramel coloring. Color is typically added to give the product the appearance of containing red meats and green veggies. Unfortunately, Red #40 is also a known carcinogen. Many other colors have potential toxicity, negatively affecting the digestive system, immune system, and nervous system.


  • Sweeteners

    Examples: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and propylene glycol. These are used to increase the palatability of the food for the dog. It is typically a sign of a low-quality product that doesn’t have the delicious flavors of from whole foods. Sweeteners like these are dangerous because of their high sugar concentration. Eventually, they can contribute to your dog developing diabetes.


  • Meat By-products

    By-products are not necessarily undesirable ingredients, especially for a dog’s diet. A wild dog would normally eat many of the prey’s internal organs which have a host of nutrients and benefits. The concern with by-products in commercial foods is quality. These by-products are often very undesirable portions of 4D meat sources.(To learn more about 4D meats check out our article 4D Meats in Dog Food – What Are They?)

Most of these cons are avoidable if choosing quality food, made by a reputable manufacturer.

Now let’s break down the pros and cons specific to each type: canned and kibble.


Pros of Canned:


  • More Meat

    Canned foods often contain a higher percentage of meat. They may use whole meat ingredients as opposed to meat meals. This more natural form makes the nutrients your dog needs to get from meat more bioavailable.


  • Fewer Ingredients

    Limited ingredient diets have two appeals: Avoiding allergens and knowing what’s in your dog food. These things are essential for some people and their dogs.


  • Grain-Free and Lower in Carbohydrates

    Many pet owners are looking for grain free foods now to give their dogs the most optimal diet, to reduce carbohydrates, and to avoid allergens. Canned foods can be made without grains more easily than kibble.. In this area, canned foods have an advantage over kibble because kibble requires a quantity of flour to hold it together. So, the manufacturers switch to other carbohydrate sources for kibble, whereas canned foods can merely avoid the grain altogether.


Cons of Canned:

  • Thickeners

    Examples: guar gum, cassia gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum. These thickeners can also be harsh on the digestive tract. Carrageenan is a known carcinogen. Most cube style canned foods with gravy use thickeners to obtain their texture. You can avoid these by choosing a “stew” recipe instead.


  • Soy “Meat” Chunks

    Manufacturers have found a way to reduce the cost of canned foods: use soy and propylene glycol to make chunks with a similar texture and appearance to meat. Add some synthetic flavoring to fool the dog, and the product sells! However, this formula is dangerous to your dog’s health because he needs real meat to obtain essential nutrients that his body isn’t made to get anywhere else.
    Also, some dogs are allergic to soy or have trouble digesting it for the proteins. Soy has also become a large GMO crop which holds another list of potential risks. The same product can be made using soy-free grains or grain-free substitutes.


  • Mold

    It is possible that the seal of a can won’t be enough to protect against mold, or that the food was exposed to oxygen too long before being sealed, so growth started in its wet environment. This potential is significantly reduced by choosing a reputable manufacturer and checking the “use by” dates to make sure you are buying a fresh product.

Overall, canned dog food can come closer to the optimal ancestral canine diet.
The risks must be sorted out from the benefits, and high-quality food from a reputable manufacturer found. Your dog’s health should always be taken into consideration to determine his nutrition requirements. A canned product just might be the right fit!


Pros of Dry Kibble:

  • Convenience

    For those of us on tight time constraints a fully prepared meal, ready to serve is very beneficial.


  • Jaw Strength

    It takes a lot more strength to chew kibble than a soft canned meal. While not the same this comes closer to chewing a bone. Contrary to the popular myth chewing kibble doesn’t clean your dog’s teeth any more than eating potato chips cleans your teeth.


  • Less Mess

    Without the moisture of the canned food, kibble leaves the dog bowls cleaner. However, we recommend that you regularly wash all your dog’s dishes, regardless of food or water type.


  • Price

    Kibble is much easier to buy in bulk and can cost significantly less than canned foods.

Cons of Dry Kibble:


  • Rancid Fats

    Manufacturers spray fats onto kibble near the end of the manufacturing process. When exposed to oxygen, these fats oxidize and become rancid. Rancid fats pose a toxic risk to your dog. Fish oils are the most likely to oxidize. Rancid fats are the first reason kibble might “go bad.” They can be avoided by buying small bags more often, and keeping the kibble in an air-tight container (preferably not plastic), and frozen in one-week portions.


  • Chronic Dehydration

    A natural diet would be much higher in moisture providing your dog with some of his daily water requirement. Feeding dry kibble doesn’t encourage proper hydration, and if your dog is not a particularly good drinker, he could suffer the effects of being partially dehydrated. Always provide fresh water and encourage your dog to drink routinely.


  • Higher Carbohydrates

    The extrusion process that makes kibble requires a large percentage of carbohydrates to form the kibble and hold it together. The average kibble contains anywhere between 40% and 60% carbohydrates.


  • Highly Processed
    Dry kibble is cooked four times over before packaging for delivery! Repetitive heating decreases the value of the nutrients in the food such as the delicate vitamins, minerals and amino acids necessary for your dog to obtain from his diet. Therefore, dry foods provide better nutrition when combined with fresh foods.

If you choose to go with a kibble diet, I highly recommend that you consider mixing in fresh food too. There are many benefits to this, and it can be quick and economical. To learn more check out our Healthy Additions series.

Whichever type of food you choose for your dog, be sure you check out “Tips for Quality” to learn how to select the best for your companion!


Good luck to you and your Satisfied Dog!


 – Cassy Kay






1 Sagman, Mike. “Canned or Dry Dog Food – What’s the Better Choice?” Dog Food Web. Aug. 9, 2017. <>

2 Thixton, Susan. “How many times are Ingredients cooked in Kibble Pet Foods?” Truth About Pet Sept. 9, 2016. Web. Aug. 10, 2017. <>



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