Is Wet Or Dry Food Better For Senior Dogs?

The question, ‘Is wet or dry food better for senior dogs’ is complex because of senior dogs’ unique health and nutrition needs.

Is Wet Or Dry Food Better For Senior Dogs

We’ve asked 12-year-old Honey and her owner to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both wet food and dry food for senior dogs today.

Key wet vs dry food Takeaways

  • Dogs need more protein, fewer carbohydrates, and more omega-3 fatty acids as they get older
  • Wet food is more hydrating than dry food and contains fewer carbohydrates
  • Dry food is better for dental health
  • Wet food is more expensive and more difficult to store

Nutritional Needs Of Senior Dogs

“We senior dogs have different nutritional needs compared to our younger friends! This is important to bear in mind when choosing between wet and dry dog food!”

Changes In Digestion And Metabolism

As Honey has gotten older, her metabolism has slowed down. This means she needs fewer calories because she burns fewer calories per day.

“We also tend to have more digestive issues as our digestive systems slow down. So, we need food that is easy to digest to prevent gas build ups, constipation, and diarrhea.”

Nutrient Requirements For Senior Dogs

“I may not need to eat as many calories as I used to, but I still need all my nutrients!”

Honey has always eaten a complete, nutritionally-balanced diet. However, now that she’s older, she needs at least 25% quality protein daily to support muscle health and cell repair, and the carbohydrates she eats must be digestible.

“The vet said I need to eat less fat now because of my age, which I thought was quite rude… But he also said I need to keep getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.”

That’s because EPA and DHA help to combat inflammation, especially if weight gain is an issue.

Understanding Wet And Dry Dog Food

Wet Dog Food

Wet food for dogs is made from a ground-up protein source, and it’s usually mixed with a gravy that contains added minerals and vitamins.

While some dog foods are grain-free, most wet dog foods have grains added to the gravy as a source of carbohydrates. All the ingredients are typically cooked before being sterilized and sealed in pouches or cans.

Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food is usually made from many of the same ingredients as wet dog food. It typically contains meats, vitamins, minerals, and grains. Usually, though, there are more carbohydrates and fewer fat sources in wet food.

Dry dog food is cooked at a higher temperature than wet food, so most water evaporates.

Benefits Of Wet Food For Senior Dogs


“I don’t need to drink from my water bowl as often when I have wet food! It helps me to feel hydrated.”

That’s because the gravy in wet food has a high percentage of water, which helps with hydration. Water is important for basically every function of a senior dog’s body, from digestion to muscle growth.


“I think wet food tastes better than dry food! It’s my favorite!”

The smell and taste of wet food are more potent than dry food because it’s not put through such an intense cooking process.

Nutrient Content

The main reason I like to feed Honey wet food rather than dry in her old age is that it’s more suitable for the nutrient requirements of senior dogs.

It contains more protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s also low-calorie and lower in carbohydrates.


“I don’t get an upset stomach as often when I eat wet food!”

That’s because wet food contains fewer carbohydrates, so it’s easier for Honey to digest. The extra water also helps her digestive system.

Drawbacks Of Wet Food For Senior Dogs

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As a dog owner, I can tell you that wet food is definitely not the cheapest option. It costs roughly 5 times more than dry food. But Honey is worth it, even if she does like to chew my slippers…

“That was one time!”

Short Shelf Life

You’ll need to keep an eye on the shelf life of your wet dog food, too. Buying it in bulk is often cheaper, but it has a shorter shelf life, so don’t buy more than you can use within that time frame.

“You could always let me have two dinners…”

Dental Health

Dental health is the one disadvantage of wet food compared to dry food for senior dogs. Compared to dogs that eat dry food, dogs that eat wet food have more tartar and a bigger risk of gingivitis.

“But there are other ways to keep our teeth healthy and clean! You can get tasty dental sticks for dogs, or even brush our teeth!”

Benefits Of Dry Food For Senior Dogs


Dry food is definitely cheaper than wet food, so it’s much more cost-effective. This may make it the best choice for some senior dog owners, especially if they have expensive vet bills for age-related conditions.

Convenient And Easy To Store

“Because dry food has a longer shelf life, you can keep it in the cupboard for a long time!”

Promotes Dental Health

When Honey has been fed dry food, I’ve noticed I haven’t needed to clean her teeth as much. That’s because the shape and texture of dry food helps to clean tartar off your senior dog’s teeth, promoting good dental health.

Drawbacks Of Dry Food For Senior Dogs


“I usually get thirsty when I only have dry food to eat. All the water evaporates when it’s cooked at high temperatures, so I need to drink out of my bowl more often.”


Digestibility can be an issue for senior dogs that are fed dry food. Dry food contains many carbohydrates that are difficult for senior dogs to digest. I stopped feeding Honey dry food after she had a bit of an accident –

“Don’t tell everyone about that! It’s embarrassing!”

Sorry, Honey – let’s move on!


“Dry food definitely doesn’t taste as good as wet food. Some brands do taste nice, but nothing compares to the gravy in wet food!”

Nutrient Content

Dry dog food contains more carbohydrates and fewer omega-3 fatty acids on average. This means it’s less compatible with a senior dog’s nutritional needs than wet food.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Wet And Dry Food For Senior Dogs

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Age And Health Of The Dog

If your dog has recently entered their senior years, you might want to consider switching from dry to wet food to lower their calorie intake.

However, as senior dogs get very old, they sometimes do better on higher-calorie dry food because many age-related conditions can cause a lack of appetite – although I don’t think that will ever happen to Honey!


Nutritional Needs And Preferences

Take your dog’s specific nutritional needs into account, as well as their preferences, when choosing wet or dry food.

For example, Honey’s digestive system needs a little help sometimes, so I give her wet food in chicken flavor as that’s her favorite.

Dental Health

“My teeth are very healthy, but I have a friend whose vet recommended dry food because of gum inflammation.”

Yes, dry food can be the best choice for a senior dog with a history of dental issues.

Cost And Convenience

We’d all love to have our pets eat the most nutritious, hydrating foods, but this can get expensive very quickly. There’s no shame in choosing dry food over wet food if the cost and storage limitations are too much.

Tips For Feeding Senior Dogs

Regular Vet Check-Ups

Your vet is the best person to tell you what you should be feeding your dog. Always get regular health checkups and follow your vet’s advice.

Portion Control And Feeding Schedule

“Unfortunately, now that I’m older, my owner has gotten stricter with her portions and feeding schedule…”

Honey’s not a fan of the new food rules, but it’s important to control your senior dog’s weight with regular feeding times and portions.

Consistency In Diet

Avoid switching up your senior dog’s food too often or changing the calories they get. This makes it more difficult to keep weight consistent and might increase the risk of digestive issues.

Incorporating Nutritional Supplements

Depending on your dog’s unique health needs, they may need some additional supplements. For example, a calcium supplement if your senior dog has developed bone or joint issues.

“But never add a new supplement to your dog’s diet without asking your vet first!

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