The 7 Best Wet Dog Foods of 2023 (AAFCO Certified Options)

With many wet dog food choices available, you may find yourself a little overwhelmed. What’s the proper diet your dog should be on? What are the best ingredients to look for?

To help save you some time, we reviewed hundreds of options to find the 7 best wet dog foods available. All of our options meet AAFCO standards for a complete and balanced diet, and can be used as a standalone wet food or kibble topper. Here’s our list:

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Our Picks for the Best Wet Dog Food

1. Canidae All Life Stages Chicken & Rice Wet Dog Food

canidae chicken and rice canned dog food


Canidae All Life Stages is a best bet for wet dog food. The recipe meets AAFCO standards for all life stages and breeds, and includes chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver as the first three ingredients. It’s also made in the USA, and includes only American and Canadian sourced foods.

Key Features:

  • Wet dog food with chicken as the first ingredient
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs and puppies; meets the AAFCO standard for all life stages.
  • Made with grains (brown rice)
  • Also available in lamb & rice
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (9% min), Crude Fat (6.5% min), Crude Fiber (1.5% max), Moisture (78% max)


  • Suitable for all ages and breed sizes
  • Contains essential vitamins and minerals, as well as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids from salmon oil
  • Made in the USA
  • No chicken byproducts, corn, wheat, or soy fillers
  • All ingredients sourced from USA, except for salmon from Canada


  • Pricier than other canned dog foods, given the quality

2. Merrick Cowboy Cookout, Grain Free Wet Dog Food

merrick cowboy cookout dog food


Merrick Cowboy Cookout packs a host of quality ingredients into a nutritious and chunky dog food. USDA beef is the first ingredient, alongside others such as carrots, apples, salmon oil, and flaxseed. It’s made in the USA without artificial preservatives, colors, or meat byproducts.

Key Features:

  • Grain-free moist dog food in a beef and carrots recipe
  • USDA beef is the first ingredient
  • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs; meets AAFCO standard for adult maintenance.
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (8% min), Crude Fat (3% min), Crude Fiber (1.4% max), Moisture (82% max)


  • Includes salmon oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint health
  • Available in 12 different recipes, including chicken, pork, and turkey varieties
  • No meat byproducts
  • No corn, wheat, soy fillers, or carrageenan
  • Lower fat content compared with other canned dog foods
  • Cooked in the USA


  • This food is grain-free, which may be good or bad depending on your specific preferences
  • Not suitable for puppies or nursing dogs

3. Nom Nom Fresh Wet Dog Food

nom nom wet dog food


Nom Nom is a leader in a new wave of pet companies devoted to producing fresh, “ultra premium” wet dog food. You can think of it as high-end food delivery for your dog. Ingredients that go into each small batch are human grade, restaurant quality, and all cooked in the USA. The food is then cold packed and delivered fresh to your door, rather than in a can.

Key Features:

  • Fresh wet dog food that’s delivered to your door every 2-4 weeks
  • All recipes are formulated by a board certified veterinary nutritionist
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs; meets AAFCO standard for adult maintenance.
  • Available in beef, chicken, pork, and turkey varieties
  • Guaranteed analysis for the beef recipe: Crude Protein (10% min), Crude Fat (5% min), Crude Fiber (1% max), Moisture (73% max)


  • Delivered to your door cold-packed and fresh, not canned
  • High quality, restaurant grade ingredients
  • Cooked in small batches for flavor and consistency
  • Nom Nom has a short quiz to tailor the food to your dog based on breed, age, size, and health.


  • Quality means a much higher price; Nom Nom was the most expensive option we looked at

4. Wellness Complete Health Wet Dog Food – Duck & Sweet Potato

wellness complete health wet dog food


Another solid choice for canned dog food is the Wellness Complete line of options. This Duck and Sweet Potato formula is made with all natural ingredients, and contains no corn, wheat, or soy fillers. It’s a complete and balanced diet that’s perfect for adult dogs of all sizes.

Key Features:

  • Canned dog food in duck and sweet potato variety; also available in turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, and senior dog formulas.
  • All natural ingredients, with no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs; meets AAFCO standard for adult maintenance.
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (8% min), Crude Fat (5% min), Crude Fiber (1% max), Moisture (78% max)


  • Includes probiotics and fiber to promote healthy digestion
  • No meat byproducts
  • Flaxseed for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Made without carrageenan
  • Cooked in North America


  • Not suitable for large breed puppies (70+ pounds when fully grown)

5. Nulo Freestyle Moist Dog Food

nulo freestyle canned dog food


If you’re looking for an all-natural, grain-free canned dog food, check out Nulo Freestyle. Nulo is made from quality protein sources, and includes flaxseed for added Omega fatty acids. A quick note: this food is suitable for adult dogs only.

Key Features:

  • Grain-free wet dog food in turkey and sweet potato recipe
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs; meets AAFCO standard for adult maintenance.
  • Also available in lamb, chicken, salmon, and beef varieties
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (10% min), Crude Fat (7% min), Crude Fiber (1% max), Moisture (78% max), Omega 6 (1.2% min), Omega 3 (0.15% min)


  • Turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver are the first ingredients
  • All-natural with no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or carrageenan
  • Includes flaxseeds for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Made in the USA


  • Not suitable for puppies or nursing dogs

6. Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken Soft Dog Food

natural balance chicken dog food can


Natural Balance has been in operation since 1989, and includes premium quality proteins in its canned food. This chicken & brown rice formula has chicken as the first ingredient, and is made in the USA without artificial ingredients. It’s also available in Beef, Lamb, and Liver options.

Key Features:

  • Wet dog food with chicken as the first ingredient
  • Complete and balanced diet for both adult dogs and puppies; meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages.
  • Made with grains
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (8% min), Crude Fat (5% min), Crude Fiber (1.5% max), Moisture (78% max)


  • Chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver are the first three ingredients
  • Added fish oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Made in the USA
  • Comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee


  • Chicken recipe has a softer consistency compared with the beef and lamb options. Keep this in mind if your dog likes a chunkier wet food.

7. Canidae All Life Stages Senior Canned Dog Food

canidae platinum formula canned dog food


If you’re in the market for the best canned food for a senior dog, take a look at Canidae‘s Less Active Formula. It’s a pate style wet food that includes chicken, lamb, and fish, as well as whole grains.

Key Features:

  • Wet dog food formulated specifically for less active or senior dogs
  • Chicken, lamb, and fish recipe which includes grains
  • Complete and balanced diet for adult dogs; meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
  • Pate texture
  • Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (6% min), Crude Fat (4.5% min), Crude Fiber (2% max), Moisture (78% max), Omega 6 (1% min), Omega 3 (0.1% min)


  • Contains salmon oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Chicken is the first ingredient, and with no byproducts
  • Made without corn, wheat, soy, or carrageenan
  • Made in the USA
  • Formulated by veterinarians


  • Pricer than other canned dog foods

Wet Dog Food Buying Guide

Guide provided by Marguerite Larsen

When purchasing wet food for your dog, the most important thing to remember is the quality of the food is more important than the type. This goes for both wet and dry food, as well as foods marketed to specific breeds, sizes, or special conditions. It’s also important to consider your dog’s unique nutritional needs.

Wet Food vs. Dry Food

What’s the difference between wet and dry dog food?

The most obvious difference between the two is the moisture content. Wet food has more water and is typically sold in cans, while dry food has water removed and is typically sold in bags.

These two types of foods undergo different production methods, but you might be surprised to find that they’re actually nutritionally similar! Wet food is often the more expensive of the two. Does that mean wet food is better than dry food?

Is wet food better than dry?

It depends; because canned food is more expensive than dry kibble, many people assume it must be better. But, it may surprise you that both wet and dry dog food can meet the nutritional needs of most dogs. Rather than debating between wet or dry, the most important consideration is the quality of food you choose.

Pros and Cons of Wet and Dry Dog Food

That being said, there are still pros and cons to each type that may make one better for your particular dog. Here’s a video that gives a handy rundown of those differences:

Wet Dog Food


  • Some dogs find it tastier
  • Higher water content makes it better for dogs with urinary issues
  • Easier to mix in supplements or medications


  • More expensive
  • Difficult to store (particularly for large dogs with higher nutritional requirements)
  • Leftovers must be refrigerated
Dry Dog Food


  • Promotes healthy teeth and gums through chewing
  • Easier to store
  • Less expensive than wet


  • Harder to digest
  • Some dogs find it less tasty
Other Considerations

Beyond these, some dogs may be better suited to dry food, or vice versa. Dogs that prefer to graze throughout the day, or breeds that have dental issues, are better suited to dry food. Those who have urinary issues can benefit from wet food.

Bottom Line: The differences between the two types don’t affect their nutritional value. Each type has pros and cons that can benefit different types of dogs. As a third option, a combination of the two can allow you to get the best of both worlds.

What Type of Wet Food Should You Buy?

You’re likely familiar with the types of food marketed to adult dogs, puppies, and seniors. But a quick scan online or in the grocery store will tell you that there many more varieties as well. So which should you buy?

Healthy Adult Dogs

If you have a healthy, adult dog with no other conditions, look for wet dog food that contains AAFCO’s “complete and balanced” certification, follows the 95% rule (see our section below), and includes at least 18% protein on a dry matter basis. And again, not all dog food is created equal, so quality should come first.

dog smiling in car

Whether or not your dog would benefit from specialty wet food depends on several factors. Research shows that puppies, seniors, pregnant, and nursing dogs have different nutritional needs than most dogs. Beyond that, specialized diets should pertain to your dog as an individual, rather than tailored to a specific breed, size, etc. Additionally, you shouldn’t base the type of dog food you buy on popular human food trends, such as raw or grain-free diets.

Wet Dog Food for Puppies

If you have a puppy, you should buy dog food that’s specifically marketed as “puppy” food. Good canned puppy food should have twice the amount of crude fat as a typical adult dog food, and a minimum of 22% protein on a dry matter basis.

It’s also a good idea to look for a puppy food that has added DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid common in fish. These fats help support a puppy’s developing brain, eyes, and heart. A quick note: fish-based puppy foods may not be marked with DHA, because fish, such as salmon, are already high in these fatty acids.

Lastly, look for the AAFCO “Growth and Reproduction” certification when buying puppy food.

Wet Food for Pregnant or Nursing Dogs

Pregnant and nursing dogs have similar dietary needs to puppies. Some pet food manufacturers sell dog food specifically designed for pregnant or nursing dogs, but since puppy food is more widely available, it’s perfectly acceptable to opt for a high-quality version of this food instead. Before starting a diet for a pregnant dog, speak with your veterinarian.

Wet Dog Food For Senior Dogs

The most important thing to know about dog food for seniors is that they need 20% fewer calories than adult dogs. To maintain adequate nutrition, it’s important to keep protein and fat high, but lower carbohydrate intake. For this reason, wet dog foods specially formulated for seniors can be a beneficial option.

As dogs get older, they also tend to start developing joint issues. This is particularly true for small breeds like Dachshunds, Corgis, and Basset Hounds, and others like Golden Retrievers. If you have a senior dog prone to joint issues, it may be beneficial to consider purchasing wet food that supports joint health. One additional option is to add a dog joint supplement to their diet. Look for varieties with glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate.

Specific Breeds or Sizes

You can find canned dog food marketed to small or large breeds, or even for individual breeds, but are they necessary? It depends.

group of dogs

Specific Breeds

When it comes to food for specific breeds, it’s more important to consider the needs of the individual dog than the name on the bag. This is for two reasons.

First, claims related to breed-specific nutrition are not regulated by the FDA. Although it’s true that Labradors tend to eat more quickly, are prone to obesity, and may need a lower-calorie food, determining if a brand marketed to Labradors is actually lower in calories is only possible by reading the nutritional label.

Second, just because a food is marketed to one particular breed, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be beneficial for a different breed who has similar dietary needs. For example, one brand of wet dog food marketed to Dachshunds (because it has added glucosamine joint support) may also be beneficial for other dogs with joint problems.

Breed Sizes

In general, small dogs need more calories-per-pound than large dogs do. For this reason, it may be a worthwhile investment to purchase wet food marketed specifically to small breeds. However, if you are combining both wet and dry food and you only want to buy a specialized version of one, prioritize the dry food, as smaller-sized kibble is easier for little dogs to chew.

Other Special Diets

Several premium dog food brands, like Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet, sell canned foods for dogs with health conditions. There are also many popular brands that market food to dogs on specialty diets, including those who are overweight, have allergies, or follow a raw or grain-free diet. You may be wondering if one of these types is right for your pet. The answer is that the quality, effectiveness, and necessity of such diets vary.

Low-Fat or Low-Carb Dog Food

Obesity is a dangerous condition for dogs that can lead to other health complications or shorten your dog’s lifespan. Changing your dog’s wet food to a lower fat or lower carb option may help get your dog’s weight back on track, but be sure to consult your vet before making this change.

Limited Ingredient and Exotic Dog Food

In recent years, “limited ingredient” and “exotic” dog food varieties have grown in popularity as dog owners try to limit their pet’s exposure to unnecessary additives. One of the benefits of these diets is that they’re typically sold by premium brands, so you’re unlikely to do your pet any harm by feeding them one of these foods.

However, if you’re interested in limited ingredient options to combat allergies, proceed with caution. These diets purport to combat allergies by limiting exposure to a single protein and single carbohydrate food source. However, the labeling on these types of products can be misleading. Foods marketed as “limited ingredient” may still contain multiple protein or carbohydrate sources. There is also some debate about the effectiveness of these diets, so check with your veterinarian before making a switch.

Grain-Free Dog Food

Grain-free diets are also becoming increasingly popular among pet owners. This is likely due to the popularity of similar diets among humans. The main concern about grain-free diets for dogs is a rising correlation between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump blood is decreased. While research on this topic is still early (less than 600 dogs tested), some dog owners have opted to provide some level of grains in their dog’s diet. We’ve provided some grain free options in our list above, but we suggest talking with your vet if you’re concerned.

Grain-free dog food is also typically unnecessary when combating allergies. An allergic reaction is almost always due to the protein source, not the carbohydrate.

dog bowl with wet food

How to Look for High-Quality Wet Dog Food

When deciding the type of wet food, it’s important to purchase only high-quality products. All commercial dog foods have certain standards, but premium brands will likely have higher quality standards. At a bare minimum, check for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) “complete and balanced” label. But even this label doesn’t guarantee you’re getting a product with top-notch ingredients.

aafco logo

The first step is knowing where to shop. The second is knowing how to read the labels on wet dog food packaging and ingredient lists.


When searching for pet food online, it’s a good idea to consult product reviews, particularly those from veterinarians and verified customers (we’ve done this work for you!). Comprehensive buying guides such as this one are also valuable, but be sure to look for statements about whether blogs are sponsored by a brand of dog food, as this can affect their ratings. As a note, PetListed does not accept any brand solicitations, so all of our recommendations here are independent.

Grocery & Pet Stores

When searching in grocery or pet stores, learn how to read the aisles. Typically, higher-priced, higher-quality items will be placed at or above eye level (thus the term, “top-shelf”), while lower-quality goods are stocked lower on the shelves. With the amount of options, your pet store may even have a dedicated section for natural and/or premium dog food. Start your search in these areas.

Your Vet’s Office

Lastly, you can purchase top tier dog food directly from your vet’s office. This may even be the only place you can purchase certain food for specialty diets. Be aware though that the vet’s office is typically the most expensive place to buy dog food, and your vet will get a portion of the profits of food sold in their office, which may affect their recommendations.

Whether you decide to purchase directly from your vet, they’re a great resource on the best dog food brands as well.

Wet Dog Food Labels

Perhaps your greatest resource when searching for high-quality wet dog food (or any pet food for that matter) is understanding how to read the package labeling and ingredients list. Below are some key terms to know, what to look for, and what to watch out for.

Key Terms to Know

“Complete and Balanced” and ”100% Nutritious”

These are not just marketing terms. These labels signify that the product has been certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to meet all of the nutritional needs of your dog in the proper quantities. At the bare minimum, you should look for a canned dog food that contains this certification.


AAFCO nutritional certifications can be further split up into different life stages.

  • All life stages: suitable for all dogs.
  • Adult maintenance: suitable for adult dogs.
  • Growth and reproduction: formulated for puppies or pregnant/lactating dogs.


Pet products labeled “organic” are subject to the same requirements as organic human food. These requirements are strict, and ensure that all ingredients have been raised/grown without antibiotics or pesticides, and there are no artificial ingredients added. Because of these regulations, dog food labeled “organic” is typically high-quality.

organic dog food label

Organic dog food should have the “USDA Organic” green seal of approval.

However, feeding your dog an organic diet won’t necessarily have a significant impact on their health. Because this food typically comes with a higher price tag, it’s worthwhile to weigh your priorities. Organic food can, however, be beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs.


Many people mistakenly equate “natural” with organic, but they aren’t the same thing. Unlike the term “organic,” “natural” is not a regulated term. Rather, it simply means no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives have been added to the product.

What to Look For on the Ingredients List

All pet food labels are required by law to have an ingredient list. As with human food, ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The most important thing to look for is the name of an animal in the first three ingredients (e.g. chicken, beef, salmon, etc.).

Grains and Vegetables

Unlike cats, dogs are omnivores, so seeing a mix of ingredients including grains and vegetables on your dog’s wet food ingredients is a good sign that it’s a well-balanced meal.

Vitamins and Minerals

Many canned dog foods have added vitamins, minerals, and supplements to support your dog’s development. These ones give you the most bang for your buck.

  • DHA: a fatty acid that supports brain, eye, and heart development. It’s beneficial for any dog, but most important for puppies.
  • Calcium and Phosphorus: These two vitamins are good for bone health, but the amount should be lower in large breed puppy varieties as their bones develop at a slower rate.
  • Glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate: These supplements are good for joint health for senior dogs. However, the amount your dog gets will depend on how much they eat. If joint health is a concern, dosage is better controlled via an additional supplement.

What about other supplements or additives? Discuss these with a vet. Many supplements make claims about improving your dog’s health, coat, nails, etc., but studies on them have shown varied results.

What to Look For on Package Labeling

You can learn a lot from the ingredient list on your dog’s canned food. However, the quality or grade of the ingredients it contains won’t be included. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the following:

  • The AAFCO “Complete and Balanced”, ”100% Nutritious” Certifications
  • Products that follow the AAFCO’s 95% rule. Look for products that are named for a specific protein (or a protein and carbohydrate), such as “Chicken for Dogs” or “Chicken and Rice.” To be labeled this way, 95% of the product must comprise those ingredient(s).

All wet dog food must also list the nutritional amounts of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and water content. For adult dog food, look for products that contain:

  • At least 18% protein
  • Less than 50% carbs
  • 2% – 4.5% fiber

What to Watch Out For

Dog food labeling can be misleading. Seemingly innocuous words can actually signal that the product you are getting is not very good quality. Watch out for the following:

  • Words like “Entree”, “Dinner,” or “Platter”: These terms signify that the product meets the AAFCO’s 25% rule. Whatever ingredient precedes these words is only required to contain 25% of that ingredient. For example, a can of dog food labeled “Chicken Dinner” only needs to contain 25% chicken.
  • The word “With”: For example, “Dog Food with Chicken.” These products are only required to contain 3% of the ingredient listed after “with.”
  • The word “Flavor”: As in “Chicken Flavor.” This term has no percentage requirement, therefore the product may contain very little of the actual ingredient.
Other things to watch out for:
  • Expiration dates: Canned dog food is required to have an expiration date posted on the packaging. Avoid purchasing food that is close to expiring unless you plan to use it before the expiration date.
  • The cheapest options: As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Although this doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive option available, it’s a good idea to avoid bargain brand items (e.g. Ol’ Roy, Alpo), as these tend to have lower-quality ingredients.
  • Additives like dyes, high sugar, or salt contents, and chemical preservatives such as propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin.

Can I Make My Own Wet Dog Food?

It’s not recommended to make your own wet dog food. The primary reason is that it’s difficult to ensure you’ll make balanced meals that meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. High-quality wet dog food recipes are developed by veterinarians and nutritionists to ensure they contain all the nutrients necessary (in the right proportions) to meet all of your dog’s needs.

Additionally, when preparing homemade food for your dog, you’ll need to be extra careful to not accidentally give them something toxic or dangerous. This isn’t just an issue with foodborne illnesses and dangerous pesticides. Foods that are safe for humans like onions and garlic can actually be dangerous to dogs. For a full list of items, see our pet safety guide.

Preparing homemade dog food is also more expensive than buying canned dog food. If cost isn’t an issue, you may want to consider a fresh dog food subscription service like Ollie, Nom Nom Now, or The Farmer’s Dog. These types of products give your dog the benefit of a freshly prepared meal, but one that has been prepared and regulated to ensure the highest quality standards for a balanced meal.

People often worry about the quality of canned dog food prepared commercially, but if you follow the above advice for reading labels and choosing good brands, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Wet Dog Food Serving Sizes and Costs

General Tips

Read food labels: labels provide directions on the amount to feed your dog, but other factors can influence how much your dog should eat. Use directions as a guideline, but make adjustments according to your dog’s environment, activity level, and temperament.

dog food label

Example of a dog food label with feeding instructions.

Wet to dry food ratio: If mixing wet food with dry, be aware that 3oz. of wet food replaces 1/4c. of dry food.

Beware of over-feeding: can cause obesity and related problems including heart disease, arthritis, and a shortened lifespan. If you have any questions about how much to feed your dog, consult your veterinarian.

How often you feed your dog depends on their age. Puppies need multiple daily feedings, while adult dogs only need to be fed once or twice a day. Here’s a feeding schedule with guidelines by age.

How much will it cost to feed my dog wet food?

Prices and nutrition vary widely between canned dog foods. The cost of depends on the calorie content of the food in relation to your dog’s characteristics. Things like size, age, temperament, environment, and activity levels all play a role in how much your dog needs to eat.

For budgeting, consider using a calculator to figure out how much it’ll cost to feed your dog a particular product.


Choosing the type of food to give your dog can be overwhelming, but rest assured, as long as you choose a high-quality food from a reputable dog food brand, you’re likely making a good choice.

When in doubt, look for quality ingredients and a baseline level of crude fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Wet dog foods that follow the AAFCO’s 95% rule and that have at least 18% protein are the best options for adult dogs. If you have a puppy, senior, or a dog with health issues, it’s best to discuss specialized options with your veterinarian.


Finding the Best Dog Food

Types of Dog Food

Nutrition, Ingredients, and Labels

Specialty Diets

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