FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The canned versus dry diet dilemma.

April 8, 2019
Dr. Ask, cat, cats, pet, animal, vet, veterinary, diet, wet diet, dry diet, canned diet, wet food, dry food

We recommend canned diets over dry diets for a number of reasons:

• Canned diets are closer to what cats should be eating…small mammals.

• Cats are carnivores and should be eating a high protein/moderate fat/low carbohydrate diet. Canned food achieves this goal much better than a dry food.

• Cats are not “drinkers” and acquire most of their water consumption through eating prey. Canned food has much more water (~70-80%) than dry food (~6-10%).

• We blame many cat diseases on dry diets (i.e. urinary, diabetes, obesity).

• Canned diets have much less calories than dry diets. Many cats are overweight and this is mainly due to leaving a high calorie dry food in a bowl all day, every day.

I thought dry food protected my cat’s teeth?

Unfortunately, this statement is false. There is no benefit from dry food in regards to your cat’s dental health. Only VOHC-approved diets & treats help prevent plaque & tartar. The VOHC is a group of veterinary dentists who put their “stamp of approval” on products proven to reduce plaque & tartar. You cannot trust any dental health claim on over-the-counter diets & treats if it does not have the VOHC-approved seal. Check out their website at

Why feed dry food at all? For many cat owners, dry diets are preferred because…

• Cost – dry food is generally lower in cost than canned food.

• Convenience – dry food does not “go bad” if left out (i.e. pour it in a bowl and leave it all day)

• The “ick” factor – canned food is gross, it smells, and you have to clean the bowls afterwards.

These reasons, while valid points, are for the benefit of the human, not the cat. As a general rule, feed more canned food and less dry food. Feeding both canned & dry diets is preferred to just feeding a dry diet. The more canned food, the better.

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