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Pet Food: Can or No Can?

When it comes to buying pet food, there are many options for your dog and cat. But which kind is really best for their health—and your budget? Read on to get a breakdown so you can decide for yourself!

Cat Food:
Commercial cat food comes packaged as dry, semi-moist, and canned. They differ in water content, protein level, caloric density, taste, and digestibility. Each kind has its own benefits, but generally the higher the moisture content, the better it is for your cat. Staying hydrated is an important part to any cat’s diet, as it helps keep the bladder and kidneys healthy.

Dry food contains about 6 to 10 percent moisture. The primary advantages of dry cat food are that it’s lower in cost and allows the convenience to “free feed.” However, dry cat food may be less tasty to your cat, and depending on the quality it may be harder to digest than a semi-moist or canned option. If you buy dry food in large quantities, be sure to store your food in a sealed container in a cool place. Make sure the food does not get served beyond the expiration date, because old food can be rancid and have a decreased nutritional value.

Semi-moist food contains about 35 percent moisture and often resembles ground or whole meat tidbits. Semi-moist food can also be used to free feed. However, after the package is opened, palatability decreases and spoilage increases because of dehydration.

Canned cat food has a moisture content of at least 75 percent, and is generally the most appealing in taste to cats. Many brands offer a wide variety of flavors, which can be helpful if your cat is a picky eater. Canned food has the longest shelf life when left unopened, but any unused portion should be refrigerated after opening.

Dog Food:
While it is largely considered that canned (wet) food is better for your dog, both kinds bring their own advantages and disadvantages. Dry dog food is good because it’s easy to store, has positive benefits for your dog’s health and gums, and is usually lower in cost. However, it can contain more unhealthy ingredients than canned, and it tends to be high in gluten.

Canned food is great because it contains more protein, moisture (good for hydration and the urinary tract), and most dogs find it more tasty. The downside is that it can lead to weight gain more easily, and once opened, it requires a refrigerator. Ultimately the decision is yours, and as long as you buy a quality brand your dog’s diet should be complete. And if you’re really unsure, try mixing it up and giving your dog a combination of the two.