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Dry dog food tends to be more popular than wet dog food overall. However, wet dog foods offer a number of benefits as well. If you are trying to decide what kind of dog food to feed your GSD, this article will look at the benefits feeding a wet diet provides as well as the best wet dog food for German Shepherds.
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Benefits of Wet Dog Food for German Shepherds
Kibble is undeniably more convenient and often less costly. However, in some cases, wet dog food could be a better option. Here are the benefits of feeding wet dog food:
Wet dog food can have superior nutritional content
Since canning is better able to preserve nutrients, the ingredients in canned food are much closer to their fresh form as compared to kibble. Additionally, they often contain fewer carbohydrates, filler ingredients, and preservatives.
Wet dog food is easier to digest
The freshness as well as the lack of preservatives and filler ingredients makes it more digestible. This is especially beneficial to German Shepherds that have sensitive stomachs and are prone to bloat and digestive issues.
Wet dog food is more appetizing and flavorful
The freshness of the ingredients, as well as the moisture, gives wet dog food an aroma that’s more palatable to dogs. This is especially useful for German Shepherds that are picky with their food or those who suffer from a poor appetite because of illness.
Wet dog food doesn’t require much chewing
Wet dog food is much softer than any kibble alternative making it easier to chew and swallow. That makes it better for senior dogs or those with maxillofacial trauma or periodontal disorders.
Wet dog food helps keep your dog hydrated
Since canned food contains plenty of moisture, it contributes to your dog’s hydration levels. This is particularly beneficial for dogs that don’t drink enough water throughout the day. The added water content in these meals will help prevent organ stress and reduce their risk for kidney disease.
Wet dog food can help dogs shed excess weight
Compared to kibble, the moisture content of wet dog food allows your pup to feel fuller with less food. If you have a GSD that needs to shed a few pounds, giving them canned food is a good way to reduce their caloric intake and get their weight down to a healthy level.
Understanding AAFCO Standards for Wet Dog Food
The AAFCO, or the American Feed Control Officials, set the standards for dog food nutrient profiles. According to the organization’s recommendations, food given to dogs should have the following minimum values:
|Nutrient||Growth & Reproduction Stage||Adult Maintenance Stage|
What makes these figures confusing is that they’re based on dry matter. So if you’re using these standards, you need to take into consideration that canned food can be anywhere from 75 to 80% moisture. On the other hand, kibble is only around 10 to 15% moisture.
To use these recommended figures for wet food, all you need to do is check the label for the moisture percentage and the minimum crude protein guarantee.
Compute the product’s dry matter by subtracting the moisture percentage from 100. Then, compute for the protein content through the following formula:
For example, if a canned dog food variant with 75% moisture contains 12% crude protein, you might think that it’s not up to par with AAFCO standards. However, if you compute for its protein content based on dry matter, you’ll get:
At 48%, it surpasses the protein content of many high-protein kibble. Most importantly, it goes beyond AAFCO’s crude protein recommendation for all life stages. So, be careful when checking labels and make sure you convert the figures before you decide.
Things to Look for When Purchasing Wet Dog Food
Apart from complying with AAFCO standards for minimum crude protein and fat, there are certain things you should look out for when choosing the best wet dog food for your German Shepherd.
Here are some tips:
- Make sure a meat source is the first ingredient. Avoid those that list non-meat components like broth or water first.
- Select dog food that names its meat sources. Avoid those that use generic terms like “animal proteins” or “animal meat.”
- Find canned food that names the animal parts it uses. Most will have a combination of the flesh (ex., chicken breast) and organs (ex., chicken liver).
- Choose grain-free wet dog food or those with whole grains. Hearty grains like brown rice and oats are more beneficial for your dog than fillers like soy and corn.
- Opt for dog food with beneficial vegetables. Loading up on veggies like carrots and green beans offers better benefits than starches.
Reviews of Wet Dog Food for German Shepherds
GSDs have robust bodies that require plenty of protein to support proper growth and muscle maintenance. They’re also quite picky with food, not just in terms of taste but also compatibility with their sensitive digestive systems.
To help you out, here are some of the best wet dog food options for German Shepherds:
Blue Buffalo – BLUE Freedom Grain-Free Grillers (Hearty Beef Dinner)
The Hearty Beef Dinner Grain-Free Grillers canned dog food developed by Blue Buffalo under their BLUE Freedom line uses real beef as its primary source of protein.
However, it also contains other meats, including chicken and chicken liver. For moisture, it uses both water and beef broth.
Rather than using filler ingredients like soy, wheat, and corn, this wet dog food contains healthier carbohydrate sources like peas, carrots, and potatoes.
As expected from Blue Buffalo, this product doesn’t contain any artificial flavors. Nor does it contain harmful preservatives. Additionally, it is enhanced with vitamins and minerals for optimum health.
|Nutrition Facts – Blue Buffalo – Freedom Grain-Free Grillers (Hearty Beef Dinner)|
|Main Protein Source||Beef, Chicken|
|Crude Protein (min)||0.075|
|Crude Protein (as dry matter)||0.417|
|Crude Fat (min)||0.035|
|Crude Fiber (min)||0.01|
- No wheat, corn, or soy
- Uses real beef and chicken
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Enriched with vitamins and minerals
- Contains eggs, which is one of the most common food allergies in dogs.
Merrick – Slow-Cooked BBQ (Texas Style with Braised Beef)
The Texas Style with Braised Beef Slow-Cooked BBQ wet dog food by Merrick uses deboned beef as its primary protein source but also contains beef liver.
For maximum flavor, it uses both beef broth and vegetable broth. The combination of which provides moisture and an irresistible aroma.
It even contains natural smoke flavoring to really get your pup’s mouth watering at every meal.
Merrick’s entire Slow Cooked BBQ line is grain-free. This particular variant uses sweet potatoes and green beans as its main source of carbohydrates. Additionally, it contains both salmon oil and flaxseed oil, which keep German Shepherds’ joints in good condition and their skin healthy.
|Nutrition Facts – Merrick – Slow Cooked BBQ (Texas Style with Braised Beef)|
|Top Ingredient||Deboned Beef|
|Main Protein Source||Beef|
|Crude Protein (min)||0.08|
|Crude Protein (as dry matter)||0.444|
|Crude Fat (min)||0.02|
|Crude Fiber (max)||0.01|
- Irresistible flavor and aroma
- Contains salmon & flaxseed oils
- Deboned beef & beef liver as main protein source
- Potatoes and green beans as carbohydrates
- Contains added salt, which is not typically beneficial to a canine diet.
Blue Buffalo – Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe (Red Meat Dinner)
The Red Meat Dinner variant of the Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe by Blue Buffalo is a grain-free product that doesn’t just exclude wheat from its formulation but also soy and corn.
It contains several meat sources and uses beef muscle as its main protein. But it also contains beef liver, turkey, and lamb.
For palatability, this canned dog food uses beef broth rather than water for moisture. That gives it a flavor and aroma that most dogs love.
Apart from the addition of essential vitamins and minerals, among the top benefits of this dog food to German Shepherds is its flaxseed content.
Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which GSDs need to maintain a healthy coat and to keep their joints strong. Additionally, it is free of preservatives and artificial flavors.
|Nutrition Facts – Blue Buffalo – Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe (Red Meat Dinner)|
|Main Protein Source||Beef, Turkey, Lamb|
|Crude Protein (min)||0.1|
|Crude Protein (as dry matter)||0.455|
|Crude Fat (min)||0.07|
|Crude Fiber (max)||0.015|
- No wheat, soy, or corn
- Multiple premium protein sources
- Contains flaxseeds
- No preservatives & artificial flavors
- Contains carrageenan, a controversial ingredient that might lead to inflammation and digestive distress.
Natural Balance – Original Ultra Beef Canned Dog Formula
The Beef Canned Dog Formula by Natural Balance promises high-quality nutrition and helps support proper digestion and overall health.
This food is made primarily from beef muscle and beef liver, and uses beef broth as its main source of moisture. This formulation makes it incredibly appetizing, even for picky German Shepherds.
Also listed as among the key ingredients of this canned dog food are potatoes and carrots. Although potatoes offer little nutritional benefit apart from calories, carrots are an excellent source of minerals, beta-carotene, and fiber.
This food is also a superb source of high-quality fiber and carbohydrates from brown rice and oat bran.
|Nutrition Facts – Natural Balance – Original Ultra Beef Canned Dog Formula|
|Main Protein Source||Beef|
|Crude Protein (min)||0.08|
|Crude Protein (as dry matter)||0.364|
|Crude Fat (min)||0.05|
|Crude Fiber (max)||0.02|
- Good quality protein source
- Highly digestible carbohydrates
- No artificial colors or flavors
- Supports proper digestion
- Enriched with vitamins and minerals
- Contains canola oil, which is not an ideal source of fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
How Much Wet Food Should You Feed Your German Shepherd?
It’s always a good idea to feed your dog according to the feeding guidelines of the dog food you choose. Then, increase or decrease portions depending on how your pup responds to their new diet.
For a more precise approach to feeding, the National Research Council of the National Academies offers a calorie-based guideline. Here’s a table you can use as a guide based on your German Shepherd’s life stage, weight, and activity level:
|German Shepherd Calories per Day (kilocalories/day)|
|Type of Adult||50 lbs.||70 lbs.||90 lbs.|
Because wet dog food is typically labeled with its kilocalorie content per kilogram, you can use this table to determine how much to feed your German Shepherd.
Best Way To Feed Wet Dog Food
Your German Shepherd can enjoy wet dog food either on its own or mixed in with kibble. Since they’re prone to gastrointestinal distress, it’s always best to complete their daily nutritional requirements through two feedings per day.
Additionally, whenever you’re shifting your GSD to a new type or brand of dog food, make sure you transition slowly. Here’s a 14-day dog food transition schedule that’s suitable for the sensitive stomachs of German Shepherds:
|Days||Portion of Old Food||Portion of New Food|
|1 to 4||0.25||0.75|
|5 to 8||0.5||0.5|
|9 to 13||0.75||0.25|
Should German Shepherds Eat Wet Food?
German Shepherds can definitely drive on wet food, but of course it depends on the individual dog. Wet dog food can be beneficial for some GSD’s because it is generally more palatable, but also these products typically contain high-quality proteins that are closer to their original form compared to kibble. Additionally, most of the ingredients are generally fresher.
Because of its composition and moisture content, it is also easier to digest. That’s beneficial to GSDs because they, as a breed, are generally prone to bloat and other gastrointestinal disorders.
However, there are also disadvantages to feeding your German Shepherd wet dog food. Because they grow to be pretty large dogs with equally large appetites, canned food will definitely be more expensive than kibble.
You’ll also need plenty of storage space to keep all the cans of food your dog will go through in a brief span of time.
Additionally, many believe that wet food makes your dog more prone to periodontal disease. However, frequent brushing and regular dental evaluations should minimize that risk.
Lastly, if your German Shepherd has a hardy appetite, wet food alone could leave them feeling hungry, or not give them enough calories because wet dog food has higher water content.
The best wet dog food for German Shepherds should not only be tasty but also should contain high-quality ingredients and protein sources. A good alternative to a strictly wet food diet is to mix wet and dry food to give your dog the benefits of both.
However, if you decide that kibble is a better option for your German Shepherd, check out the best dry dog food for German Shepherds.