You could ask 50 different vets and probably get 50 different thoughts on it feeding dry vs wet food. =-) There is a lot of debate about how animals thrived in the wild vs. how we’ve compartmentalized their feeding regime to fit our schedule and budget. If we steer clear of debating and just focus on some of the pros and cons, we know that wet food generally wins out over dry in moisture content, palatability, absence of preservatives, and eye appeal (to the owner =-). Dry food generally wins in the area of energy density, cost, dental care, convenience and application to different feeding strategies.
If we are talking about a healthy dog or cat, then I personally believe dry is easier to feed/clean up (possibility of Salmonella/E. Coli), cost effective …all around just more convenient. If we are talking about a renal failure kitty who doesn’t want to eat then I would recommend a wet food, likely Hills k/d Stews to entice them to eat and keep them hydrated. The only thing I worry about with feeding wet food or even table scraps along with dry food is that when you have a picky eater on your hands, they will learn you will offer a “yummier” food later and hold out on you. Then you’ve got a situation on your hands because we don’t know if they are not eating because they are sick/hurting or just being a picky eater and they aren’t talking! It can be difficult to get them to eat their dry food after they’ve tasted table scraps or wet food. I can’t count the number of times we’ve had to run bloodwork or radiographs to prove nothing was wrong and then it’s usually 2-3 worrisome days of the owner standing their ground and a little stubborn furry kid that goes on a hunger strike waiting on table scraps or a canned diet! I worry about picky eaters and their humans not being stern with them because if they hold out and only eat bacon for days on end, then that is not considered a balanced diet.
How do you know if they are getting a balanced diet? Check for an AAFCO statement in fine print on the bag. Pet food is not very well regulated and this statement, if present on the bag, means it has been through a feeding trial and no know deficiencies were reported.
We do know that dry food can help with mechanical debridement of plaque and tartar build up, as well as offering more toys/treats to chew on. You can visit http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm to see which food/treats/chew toys have been researched and proven to decrease plaque and tartar build up. These are not substitutes for brushing but doing something vs. nothing is a step in the right direction!
If a patient is used to getting once specific diet for months and years then you add something new (or they get into the trash) then there is a likely chance you are doing to have to clean up some loose stool. Some dogs have stomachs of steel and nothing bothers them but others can be sensitive and just snatching something off the floor before mom could get to it to pick it up then end up with diarrhea. If you are considering adding in something new, do it in small amounts and gradually increase with time to prevent a mess on your hands! If recommending a new diet for a patient or transitioning from puppy to adult food, I usually recommend it taking about a week. First 2 days should be about 1/4 of the new diet and 3/4 of the old. Day 3-4 be about 50/50, etc.
If you wanting to just mix it up a bit, I would try something new from the VOHC treat/food list so that there is a benefit to mixing it up. If you are in the kitchen and just can’t resist those eyes…carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, apple, banana, peas, rice, turkey, chicken, and beef are all okay to feed on occasion and of course without spices, being fried, or bones. Avoid grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, macadamia nuts, garlic, any moldy foods (if you wouldn’t eat it because it smells questionable then don’t hand it over to the innocent bystander with the pitiful eyes watching as you clean out the fridge=-) , yeast dough (ferments to alcohol in stomach), coffee (grounds, beans etc), salt, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener…most commonly found in chewing gum).
I hope this helps! Please shoot me an e-mail (email@example.com) or comment on our Facebook page and I would love to answer any further questions!