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Best Canned Dog Food — Buyer’s Guide

Purchasing dog food seems like a simple task until you realize the products your beloved pet consumes affects all aspects of their health and longevity. It’s important to choose carefully and according to their needs dependent on age and size, which may mean switching to wet food or a combination of dry and wet to ensure nutritional or sensitivity issues. The best canned dog food for your home ultimately depends on your dog.

Best Choice
Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy
Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy
Best Canned Dog Food
Perfectly cut pieces with real steak and vegetable flavor in a delicious gravy with ingredients they can’t resist, to help provide the energy they need to play.
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Best Canned Dog Food in 2020

ImageProduct 
Best Overall
Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy review
Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy
  • Real Beef #1 Ingredient
  • 100% Complete & Balanced
  • Made In The USA
  • World'S Finest Ingredients
  • A Soft Texture

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Wild Diet
Blue Buffalo Wilderness review
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
  • Real Turkey And Chicken
  • Finest Natural Ingredients
  • Enhanced With Vitamins And Minerals
  • No By-Product, Corn, Wheat Or Soy
  • No Artificial Flavors Or Preservatives

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Easy Digestion
Hill
Hill'S Science Diet Adult 7+
  • High Quality Protein
  • Using Balanced Minerals
  • Easily Digestible Ingredients
  • Supports Heart And Kidney Health
  • Made In The USA

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Rich Protein
Purina One Smartblend review
Purina One Smartblend
  • Made With Real Meat
  • With Vitamins, Minerals And Nutrients
  • Support Healthy Immune System
  • Support Healthy Skin And Coat
  • Support Strong Muscles

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Vegetarian
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Vegetarian review
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Vegetarian
  • A True Vegan Formula
  • Premium Quality Ingredients
  • Same Essential Nutrients As Formulas With Meat
  • Supports Overall Health
  • Maintains Overall Well-Being

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1. Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy — Top Selling Brand For Quality And Value

This blend of tender beef and vegetables in gravy is made with high quality—or as Pedigree puts it, “the finest”—ingredients. As one of the top-selling canned dog foods on Amazon, customers continue to support it.

Although they report creating nutritionally advanced recipes based on research and advice from The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, there isn’t much information as to what qualifies as the “finest ingredients.” Aside from being made in the U.S., their food sources are difficult to find.

Pros
  • Everyone seems to love it.
  • There is overwhelmingly positive feedback, and it’s great value for the price.
Cons
  • Complaints have been made about excessive gravy bringing the overall quality down and upsetting stomachs.

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness — Grain-Free, Based On Natural, Wild Diet

Grain-free, all-natural, holistic dog food chock full of real turkey and chicken so adult dogs can live their best life in their prime years. It’s free of chicken by-products, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors and preservatives. Meaty enough to serve as a meal by itself, it can also be mixed up with dry dog food or served as a healthy treat.

Nature’s Diet

The dietary focus is giving owners a protein-rich option sans grains, imitating the diet of a wild dog. Turkey meat and chicken are the main ingredients, but the recipe also includes chicken liver and high-protein organ meat. Potatoes are incorporated for complex carbohydrates as well.

Pros
  • Based on Blue’s origination story about their dog who started having health issues, leading to the creation of a recipe with a high percentage of meat and wholesome ingredients, this company truly cares about furry family members.
  • They are genuinely behind promoting pet health with all-natural ingredients and grain-free options for grown dogs with sensitivities to commonly used thickeners.
Cons
  • In the last few years, several complaints have been made about receiving significantly bent cans, damaged enough to affect the quality of the food.
  • Cans arrived this way even when they were positioned in the middle of a case or the delivery boxes arrived dent free.

3. Hill’S Science Diet Adult 7+ – For Higher Energy Levels And Easy Digestion In Old Age

Specifically catering to the dietary needs of older dogs, Hill’s bases the nutritional elements on boosting energy for higher activity levels. Chicken, peas, carrots, and a hearty gravy all combine to help kidney and hearth health for elderly dogs. This line is deliberately easy for digestion with mature dogs in mind.

High Quality Standards

Hill’s insists on only using natural ingredients from facilities meeting certain quality standards plus formal approval by their company. Each product goes through an analysis process so you can rest assured your dog is receiving the exact health support they need.

Pros
  • Adjusted ingredients for mature dogs is necessary, and the online reviews point towards older dogs genuinely enjoying this product.
  • It also appears to be effective for weight loss as dogs age and slowly become more and more inactive.
Cons
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition has gathered a few complaints about the quality of individual orders.
  • This particular product is only for dogs over the age of seven, so it’s not applicable to everyone’s canine.

4. Purina One Smartblend — Rich With Protein To Fill Up Without Adding Pounds

Purina ONE SmartBlend Tender Cuts in Gravy Lamb & Brown Rice boasts that every single ingredient within the blend is purposeful, contributing to better health. The company promises zero fillers. Every bite is entirely essential nutrients.

The line uses real lamb mixed with brown rice and gravy. A high protein count bolsters overall muscle health and strength, omega fatty acids lend to healthier skin and a luxurious coat, and the high dose of antioxidants promotes a robust immune system. The mix is easily digestible, helping proteins and nutrients absorb properly. The lamb is tender but meaty, and gravy adds even more moisture to the mix for an overall savory experience.

Pros
  • The formula is rich in protein, easy to digest, and aids in weight management.
  • Reviews claim that the majority of dogs seem to love the taste, even picky eaters or pets with allergies or food sensitivities.
  • Happily, even dogs gobbling it down aren’t putting on excess weight, and it’s price is low, so you’re getting good value for your money.
Cons
  • Some owners found that this formula highly disagreed with their dogs, leading to vomiting and constant foul smells.

5. Natural Balance Ultra Premium Vegetarian — Offering A Healthy Alternative To Meat

Natural Balance’s premium vegan formula doesn’t contain animal or dairy products, providing all breed-types a solid alternative to meat-based meals. Intentionally designed with an optimized balance of complex carbohydrates and protein, it consists of a blend of brown rice, oatmeal, carrots, potatoes and peas. This combination boasts equal Omega-6 and Omega-3 ratios, aiming to improve skin and coat health.

Important Nutrients Are Still There

In their quest for the best-canned dog food possible, experts picked out essential nutrients present in meat-based diets and found ways to effectively include them without resorting to animal or dairy products.

Pros
  • A fantastic and healthy option for customers with moral or religious restrictions who want the same for their family pet.
  • The balance and nutrition are well thought out, using premium ingredients based on expert advice.
  • Great for older dogs with acid reflux issues or as a source of fiber for improved digestion.
Cons
  • It’s difficult for many customers to trust that their pet is still getting all the nutritional benefits of meat.
  • Some dogs refuse to eat this all together, although there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer.

For Senior Dogs

The main ingredient in Blue’s Chicken Dinner with Vegetables is authentic, deboned chicken. The generous portion of high-grade meat yields essential amino acids necessary in everyday meals for optimal health. Nutrient-rich carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes add additional vitamins and minerals, while whole grains give dogs energy, even in the later years. Only whole grains like brown rice or barley are used for complex carbohydrates.

Considered one of the best options for elderly dogs, the wet food is easy to eat and the nutritional and energy benefits are angled to give dogs some pep and keep them going in their old age as long as possible.

For Sensitive Stomachs

This #1 veterinarian recommended formula caters to dogs with sensitive stomachs and promotes skin health. Grain-free, it’s cultivated to be easy on digestive systems while included, natural fibers make stool pick up an easier chore. Full of omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E, serving this to your dog regularly will add shine to their coat and nourish dry, flaky skin.

Excellent for dogs with skin issues and sensitive tummies that don’t process grains as well. For canned dog food, it is dryer than most, so customers report mixing in water or health-specific oils.

For Small Dogs

Focused on smaller breeds, the protein percentage is meant to help build lean muscle on smaller adult dogs and assist them in maintaining it. Even smaller guys with large appetites will thrive without going hungry or gaining excessive weight because it’s protein-heavy and nutritionally tailored with an antioxidant blend to ensure continued health and energy levels.

Not only is it a great choice for small breeds in general, but it also can be a rich source of necessary nutrients for severely underweight dogs or those who don’t eat much overall.

Grain-Free

Blue’s Basics Limited is often considered the best grain-free dog food. Enhanced with vitamins and minerals, each flavor uses a single protein source so you know exactly what your canine is ingesting. The potato filler can be easier on some stomachs than complex grains, and the brand line—like the other Blue formulas—doesn’t contain chicken by-products, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Created with food sensitivities in mind, the ending product still contains first-rate protein to maintain lean muscles and carbohydrates for improved energy.

Buyer’s Guide

Now that you have some resources to reflect back on, you might have slight anxiety about picking the right food with so many options.

Yes, where do I start?

Start with your pup’s age. Puppy diets have specific nutritional requirements, dogs in their prime simply maintain optimal health, seniors may only be able to eat certain foods.

Does the meat type matter?

As long as a specifically sourced meat is the first ingredient (for example: lamb), you’re generally golden. Some dogs may have sensitivities to certain meats, but what you’re looking for as a baseline is the main component in the formula being quality meat.

Are there any ingredients my dog food should absolutely have?

As we just said, the protein should be the number one ingredient. Whole, unprocessed grains—particularly brown or wild rice—provide a better binder then gluten or corn starch. If potato or sweet potato must be used as the binding for sensitivity reasons, it’s always better to look for options that are still lower in starch content. Veggies should include non-starch varietals like carrots or alfalfa.

Has my dog shown any food sensitivities?

Some dogs will have difficulties processing grains. Others won’t have enough energy without the complex carbohydrates. Some happy-go-lucky hounds can eat out of the trash can without getting sick, others have severely sensitive stomachs and may not be able to handle certain ingredients or an overly rich dinner smothered in fatty gravy.

Once these basic elements are covered, it comes down to your pet’s particular tastes and how much you want to spend. Purina ONE provides quality food at a cheaper price, while Blue Buffalo offers distinctly high-quality ingredients with a higher price tag.

Pedigree might be the best value overall with the highest sales numbers, but their quality standards are unclear. Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Miracle Mix is comprised of basic, natural ingredients, and owners can add their choice grade meat themselves. This gives owners control of meat quality.

Final purchasing thoughts

For some dog-parents it’s important that their pets align with their own beliefs. In these cases, vegan or vegetarian dog food, like the Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula, would be best. Other owners check to see if there are any pork products mixed in or that all ingredients are sourced from facilities practicing sustainability or that are GMO free.

Things to keep in mind when selecting food: age, activity level, meat quality and percentage, grains or no grains, fillers and starches lower on the ingredient list, food sensitivities, your dog’s weight, any known preferences, and what standards or restrictions you have for your dog.

What is the healthiest wet dog food?

It really depends on the ingredients. The healthiest versions are high in protein and any carbs present are gluten-free whole grains. Fewer fillers and zero byproducts or preservatives also contribute to healthier fare.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness dog food lines are considered some of the healthiest options on the market. It makes sense, as they put a lot of effort and care into basing their products on diets in the wild. Their emphasis on only wholesome, untampered, natural ingredients is a huge factor for bumping them up among the healthiest.

Is canned dog food good for dogs?

Yes, wet dog foods have a higher moisture content and are helpful for pets who don’t drink sufficient water or suffer urinary tract conditions. Wet dog food also makes dogs feel fuller because of the extra moisture, so they feel as though they’ve eaten more despite a lower calorie count. Canned options are often richer in protein, promoting energy and muscle building.

There are a few drawbacks to only giving your dog wet food. Unlike dry food, it won’t help with teeth cleaning or gum massage, so owners need to be more aware of mouth hygiene. In some cases wet food leads to stomach upset due to the high protein, fat and moisture levels. Some people believe that too much protein in diets can be hard on the liver or kidneys.

What are the top 5 healthiest dog foods?

  1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie with Bison: Good for all life stages, high in protein, superior ingredients and great for dogs with digestive issues.
  2. Merrick Classic Canned: Grain free, easy to digest, protein comes mainly from fresh beef, good for any age, first five ingredients are beef, beef broth, chicken broth, beef liver and peas.
  3. Halo Wet Dog Food: Perfect for maintaining prime health in adult canines, includes barley and rolled oats, holistic ingredients, and helps with loose stool.
  4. Weruva Wet Dog Food: Both grain and gluten free, supports health needs for adults and puppies and most protein comes from fresh chicken. Great for dogs with allergies—simplified recipe, exceptional ingredients.
  5. Wellness Stews Canned Dog Food: Most of the protein comes from fresh turkey, it’s lower in calories for dogs struggling with weight issues, includes barley and a vitamin B12 supplement, uses superior ingredients.

What should I look for in canned dog food?

Check to make sure a listed, specific animal meat is the first ingredient. If the can’s first ingredient is listed as “liver”, don’t buy it. You don’t know what kind of animal it is. If possible, find out if the meat is human grade so you know you’re buying quality.

Source awareness or certified pledges to higher industry standards can be valuable too. Purchase food with whole, unprocessed grains like rice. Vegetables are ideal for nutrition and digestion, but not starches. You’re looking for items like peas or carrots. There should be little to no grain, meat, or vegetable byproducts. Look for a “complete and balanced” label, which means the food has AAFCO approval for nutritional quality.

What is the best canned dog food?

This one entirely depends on your pup. What do they like? How old are they? Are they super active or starting to slow down? Is their stomach upset easily? Are they overweight? Underweight?

Essentially you want food that’s easy for your dog to eat, that they enjoy eating every day, and that’s supporting their health needs. Cesar Gourmet Wet Dog Food is the highest selling canned product consistently on Amazon, but it’s probably not worth the money for you if your dog prefers something else. It’s pricey, and despite being great quality, it wouldn’t live up to the price in value.

Blue Wilderness lines are carefully constructed to be an ideal wilderness-imitation diet, but their food is expensive, especially if you have a bigger breed like a husky or greyhound. Pedigree is higher selling, but partially only because it’s a cheaper option.

So… which is best?

There isn’t a one-can-fits-all answer for the best canned dog food. Each pet is unique and has their own tastes, needs, and personality. It can be easy to stand in the grocery store and instinctually buy the most popular brand, but that brand might be causing your little guy distress. No pet owner wants to see their dog constantly refuse dinner or be sick, especially for responding poorly to our own lack of research on their ideal dinner needs.

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