16 Wet Food Feeding Tips for Dogs and Cats

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6 Minute Read
 | Amy Dyck
Updated October 5, 2022

Is wet food good for dogs and cats? Wet food for pets is loaded with nutrients, so we can feel good about feeding it to our furry friends. Check out some wet food feeding tips for dogs and cats.

We know now that it's a myth that wet food is harmful to dogs and cats. In fact, canned food has some distinct benefits from dry kibble that should convince you to include it as a supplement, if not part of their regular diet, for your pet.

However, canned food is unique and requires some different feeding instructions from dry food. Here are some tips and tricks to get your pet started on wet food or to improve the safety and effectiveness of your pet's current wet food diet.

Here are 16 tips for feeding your dog or cat a wet food diet:

1. Feed Canned Food Often

Feed wet food to your pet at least once daily to keep your pet well-hydrated, particularly if you have a cat. At about 70% moisture, compared with 10% moisture for dry food, canned food has a moisture content that is closer to your pet's natural prey diet.

Wet cat food and wet dog food can be fed as a treat, a side dish, a meal topper, or as a complete diet. 

2. Quality Matters

While canned food is generally better for your pet than dry kibble, the same quality rules apply. Look for canned foods with high meat content (such as chicken, beef, or lamb) and with a few carbohydrates, such as rice, wheat, or corn.

Generally speaking, canned food will have more meat protein and fewer carbohydrates than kibble. Canned food often has fewer ingredients in general, making it easier to look for wet dog food and canned cat food that uses high-quality ingredients. 

3. Don't Leave it Out

While canned food should be okay for your pet to eat after several hours at room temperature (due to differences in your pet's digestive system), it's still a good idea to remove and discard any food that hasn't been eaten within 30 minutes.

This way, you can limit any risk of food contamination and discourage grazing, which can lead to overeating and obesity.

4. Store Properly

Store leftovers in a separate glass container in the refrigerator or in the can with a firmly fitting plastic lid or covered with plastic wrap for no more than 5 days to ensure freshness and integrity.

Can lids, like the Homes Alive Pets Can Cover, can help to keep the food fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days so that you never waste wet food for cats and dogs again. 

5. Avoid Plastic

Don't store your pet's leftovers in plastic. While food storage plastics should not contain BPA, plastic can impart a bad taste to the food, especially to your pet's super-sensitive palate.

Plastic can also scratch easily, leading to bacteria building up in the container, no matter how well you wash it. 

6. Start Similar

If your pet isn't used to wet food, start with canned food that is made up of similar ingredients to your pet's regular dry food. Also, you can mix wet and dry foods together if your pet is still unsure.

7. Choose Variety

Feed a variety of wet foods for your dog or cat's best health. Rotating proteins and formulas will give your dog or cat a better variety of nutrients, like amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. 

Many wet cat food brands offer at least 2 or 3 flavours to provide variety, and some even offer different textures, like minced, pate, and shredded, to keep the food exciting and prevent picky eating behaviours. 

8. Look Out For BPA

Look Out For BPA 

Avoid pop-top cans to limit BPA exposure to your dog or cat. Or, choose smaller cans – many do not contain BPA, as opposed to larger cans, which generally do contain at least minimal amounts. BPA has been connected to hyperthyroidism in cats.

Blue Buffalo, Weruva, and Farmina are just a few of the BPA-free brands. Or look for brands that offer wet pet food in pouches or tetra paks.

9. Limit Fish

Limit canned fish varieties for your cat. Other than being addicting for some cats, foods high in fish can also increase your cat's exposure to PBDEs and heavy metals, like mercury, which can increase their risk for hyperthyroidism, among other things.

Larger fish and bottom feeders accumulate higher levels of these no-nos, but a diet that rotates between fish, meat, and eggs will be safe for dogs and cats.

10. Avoid Freezing

Don't freeze canned foods for your pet. Freezing the food won't harm the nutrients or quality, but it can change the texture and taste. Picky pets, especially cats, may turn their nos up at the defrosted food.

11. Watch Portions

Pay attention to individual serving recommendations to prevent over or under-feeding. Cats and dogs tend to prefer the strong taste and scent of wet pet food to dry foods, so they are more likely to overeat if you aren't careful.

Wet pet food is nutrient-dense but moisture-rich, and it can be difficult to eyeball portion size. Start with the recommendations and adjust as needed for your dog's skin weight and activity. 

12. Keep Clean

Clean your dog or cat's dish thoroughly after every feeding of wet food. All dog and cat foods can leave behind food particles, no matter how well your pet cleans the bowl. Sanitizing the dish can keep your pet safe and prevent damage to the bowl from bacteria.

13. Illness Recovery

Illness Recovery 

Is your pet recovering from an illness or an upset stomach? Wet food may be the way to go. It's easier for pets to digest than dry food and can restore fluids lost due to diarrhea or vomiting quicker than dry kibble.

14. Weight-Loss Aid

Wet foods help to facilitate a scheduled and healthy feeding routine, which can aid in weight loss and maintenance by eliminating eating due to boredom. Their high water content also helps your pet feel full for longer and reduces cravings and overeating.

Is your pet struggling to lose weight? Check out How to Slim Down an Overweight Cat or Weight Loss Dog Food for more tips. 

15. Reduce Allergies

Rotating between several varieties of food is not only better for nutrition, but it's been possibly linked to a reduction in the development of allergies. Oversensitization is one of the possible causes of increased dog and cat food allergies. 

Wet food offers many flavour and formula choices, so it's easy to maintain and rotational diet. 

16. Try, But Not Too Hard

If your cat won't try canned food, try a different texture. Some pets prefer a pate to a shredded style or a chunky gravy formula. Cats, in particular, are fussier when it comes to texture, so they may be more hesitant to make a switch from another type of pet food. 

If he still won't try it, don't fret. While canned food can be beneficial to your pet, eating, in general, is more important.

Try introducing the new food more slowly or simply at another time. Never withhold food from your pet for more than 24 hours unless directed by your vet.

Cat Food

Do you feed canned food to your pet? Do you have any tips or tricks we missed?

Written by

Amy Dyck

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