Ah, the famous wet food! This is a big step when looking for the best possible diet for your pet. It is perhaps the most comprehensive form of pet food and also the most suitable for their digestive system, in particular thanks to its high water content. Armed with both preventive and curative powers, wet food for dogs is almost perfect... It can be given as a “little extra”, as part of a meal mixed with or alongside dry food, or, even better, as a whole meal. Nevertheless, beware: It is still a type of industrial food, so be sure to choose well!

What's so good about wet food for dogs?

Unlike dry food, wet food for dogs (or pâté) has an extremely high water content (between 70 and 80%) and is very low in carbohydrates (see last week's article on the latter), with a level of less than 10%, often closer to 0. Based on its composition, wet food for dogs is the industrial food closest to the diet animals get from hunting in the wild.

Giving wet food to your dog has several advantages:

  • As we've mentioned, it has a high water content. This helps limit the risk of pathologies related to the lower urinary tract, such as chronic kidney disease and kidney stones. It also preserves the kidneys and the liver, and aids digestion by providing proper hydration.

  • Wet food for dogs is also rich in meat, which makes it easily digestible for carnivores and omnivores. More than any dry food, wet food for dogs is perfectly suited to your pooch’s digestive physiology. It is therefore particularly recommended for animals suffering from pancreatitis, various inflammations of the digestive system, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Finally, it is very low in carbohydrates, and as such is particularly recommended for dogs suffering from obesity, pancreatitis, or diabetes. The high water content is also good for helping your greedy pet to feel fuller.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks. More so than with dry food, wet food is not particularly good for your dog’s oral hygiene. It is, therefore, necessary to monitor and maintain their dental hygiene when they eat dry food, for example, by giving them food to chew on which forces them to use their jaw and "clean" their teeth a bit.

Finally, despite all its advantages, wet food for dogs remains an industrial food. As such, we recommend that you learn how to distinguish high-quality wet food for dogs from the rest.

The Different Types of Wet Food for Dogs

It's very simple: there are only two! And within each “type”, it is, of course, necessary to pay attention to the presence of certain essential elements.

  • Supplementary wet food: This is not a comprehensive food. It generally contains one or two sources of meat and/or fish, but no added vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids, or omegas. This can be given as additional food, or 15 to 25% of your dog’s daily ration, but should not be used as their only source of food, as this can lead to deficiencies!

  • Comprehensive wet food: This is rich in water and meat, and has all the vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids that your pooch needs. If a wet food for dogs constitutes a complete feed, this will be indicated on the label and it can be used to replace dry food altogether!

Choosing the Right Wet Food for your Dog

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right wet food for your dog. We can start by simply analysing the composition. Good wet food for dogs should contain:

  • a high quantity of quality meat (minimum 60%),

  • no by-products, or only quality and detailed by-products such as offal,

  • no artificial colourants or preservatives,

  • a low quantity of vegetables and sources of carbohydrates (maximum 20% for dogs and 10% for cats): pâté containing corn or wheat should be avoided,

  • little or no broth (maximum 30%)

Finally, it must have a clear and detailed composition of the types of meat and foodstuffs used and their quantities. If we could only give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Don't buy your wet food for dogs from the supermarket. In keeping with the main principles we've just outlined, there’s nothing worse!


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Good Pâté vs Bad Pâté: How to Tell the Difference

There is a real difference between good and bad pâté, and you should always opt for the highest quality possible for the sake of your pet's health.

In bad wet food for dogs, you will find (or not):

  • some meat, but mostly animal by-products (including 4% duck), vegetable by-products (extremely unnecessary for animals whose real need is meat!), vegetable protein extracts, and minerals,

  • overall, no precise indication of the foodstuffs contained,

  • grains as the main source of composition.

  • In short, it does not fill you with confidence!

On the contrary, in good wet food for dogs, you will find:

  • between 50% and 70% meat,

  • a detailed breakdown of the composition,

  • no grains or by-products,

  • few vegetables or carbohydrates,

  • always less than 30% broth.

Quantities and Precautions

When comparing a wet food diet to a dry one, it's very simple: multiply the ration by 3 or 4. A 4kg pet eating 50g of kibble per day should eat 200g of comprehensive pâté. If you want to give them a little dry food at the same time, replace 70g of pâté with 20g of kibble, or 100g of pâté with 25/30g of kibble. Of course, this ratio is to be adapted according to your pet and their lifestyle.

Some precautions to take:

  • Keep wet food in the fridge: If your pet hasn't eaten everything after 30 minutes, store it in the fridge, along with the opened can. It keeps very well, especially if you have an airtight bowl.

  • Ensure a smooth transition: When starting a wet diet, be aware that the high water and meat content could cause diarrhoea if introduced too quickly! As with any dietary change, ensure the transition is smooth by gradually increasing the amount of pâté and monitoring your pet's bowel movements.

  • Never give wet food for dogs to a cat (or kibble for that matter): Cats' needs are different, with a greater need for certain proteins, vitamins, and minerals. In particular, wet food for dogs lacks taurine, which is vital for cats. Conversely, giving cat food to a dog does not pose any problem.

Cats and Pâté: A Difficult History

Cats have a reputation for being picky eaters, especially when it comes to pâté. It depends, as always, on the individual, but it does seem to be a constant theme with cats. Nevertheless, pâté is really good for them! And this is mostly thanks to its high water content.

Due to their desert origin, cats are like camels: they drink very little! This doesn't mean that they don't need water—like all living things, they do—but, unlike humans and dogs, they don't have the capacity to adapt their water intake to their needs. Therefore, you need to make sure you provide your cat with enough water in their diet. Aim to feed your kitty at least 50% complete feed with a high water content (comprehensive quality pâté, raw/BARF, etc.).

To convince your kitty to eat their pâté, you'll have to give them a little nudge, of course! But there are some little tricks you can use to help persuade them:

  • Smell: Clean the bowl well and don't hesitate to reheat the food to increase its palatability. On the other hand, many cats are wary of new foods, which they haven't seen before. To reassure them, try mixing the new food with their old food for a few days, or even several weeks.

  • Temperature: Put yourself in their paws: frozen pâté sounds disgusting! Cats like their food served at “body temperature”. Heating their food from 20 to 40° can increase your cat's food intake by 80%.

  • Shape: A small mound of pâté will seem more appealing than a smooth, flat pile. Also, opt for large bowls so that your cat's whiskers don't come into contact with the food or the edges of the bowl.

  • Texture: Minced products are eaten quickly, while jelly products force the cat to swallow large pieces, which takes longer. It doesn't mean they don't like it!

  • Taste: If it's been open too long, pâté may become rancid and oxidised, and the taste will inevitably change.

  • Digestion: If your kitty has a bad memory of a digestive issue caused by a previous pâté, there's a good chance they won't want to try it again...

  • Emotional state: Cats are very sensitive animals, obsessed with all sorts of rituals, and they hate having their little habits shaken up. Any source of stress could have consequences on their diet (spoil their appetite or, on the contrary, make them bulimic).

An Easy Recipe for Keeping Your Cat Hydrated

If your cat mainly eats dry food and doesn't drink enough water, you can create a kind of "soup" to provide them with additional water through their food: just add 10 to 20cl of water to their favourite can of pâté. Be careful to add water to your cat's diet gradually and to monitor the state of their stool, as well as their appetite.

The goal is for your cat to hydrate but also enjoy eating and eat enough. In case of hot weather or digestive problems, you can add ½ tsp blond psyllium, ½ tsp vegetable charcoal, or ½ tsp superfine green clay (per 5kg bodyweight).

For dogs, it's even simpler: you can simply moisten their dry food!

Unlimited Kibble and Pâté: Monitor Carefully

Letting your pet have a kibble "open bar" is not without its risks. Even if, by nature, cats know how to regulate their food intake and eat only what they need. Dry food is very palatable (it's what it's made for!), and cats often gorge themselves very quickly, eat more than they should, and start to put on excess weight. If you have a greedy little kitty and you choose to supplement their kibble with pâté, just keep an eye on their weight, and adjust their daily food intake accordingly.


By the Hector Kitchen medical and scientific team


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