22 Nov 2023

Dry Pet Food Myth Busting

Dry pet food is one of the most convenient and commonly used forms of food for cats and dogs. It's popular among pet owners for its ease of storage, longevity, and affordability. This factsheet from UK Pet Food covers dry pet food myth-busting for cats and dogs.


All ‘complete’ pet foods, regardless of format, are carefully formulated to provide all the nutrients a healthy pet needs for their species and, in many cases, a particular life stage. Members of UK Pet Food are committed to formulating their diets in line with the FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines, which detail the nutritional needs of dogs and cats at varying life stages.

Commercially prepared complete dry dog and cat food from reputable manufacturers comes with a reassurance of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety and must deliver all the necessary nutrients for the species, and life stage, they are intended for. Some products also have added ingredients that may benefit dogs' or cats' overall health and help with the management of certain conditions such as joint, digestive, or skin issues.

As for any other format of pet food, dry pet food could have some limitations. Dry pet foods have a significantly lower moisture content than wet foods and are supposed to be fed in smaller quantities. As a result, overfeeding and lower water intake in cats and dogs have been associated with feeding dry food compared to wet food.

Benefits of Complete Dry Pet Food for Cats and Dogs

  1. Convenient: Dry pet food is incredibly convenient as it can be stored without refrigeration and is easy to portion out. 
  2. Increased Shelf Life: Dry pet food has an increased stable shelf life due to the reduced moisture content. However, it's important to ensure the food is stored correctly by following any storage guidance on the packaging. 
  3. Can Be Left Out Longer: Dry pet foods are good for pets who like to eat little and often or who choose to regularly return to the daily portion of their food, as it can be left in the dish longer than other types of food.*
  4. Affordability: Compared to other forms of dog and cat food, dry pet food is typically more affordable and cost-effective in the long run, making them a budget-friendly option for many pet owners. This could be partly due to the raw materials used in dry pet food, their longer shelf life, and lower moisture content, reducing transport costs.
  5. Dental Health: The most effective means of keeping dogs’ teeth clean at home is by brushing their teeth regularly. There are also some Dental Health Diets on the market that use special kibble technology to reduce plaque and tartar buildup and keep dogs’ teeth and gums healthier**.
  6. Feeding Enrichment: Kibble (dry pet food) is easy to use and integrate into a slow, puzzle feeder's diet. Using interactive feeders can increase their feeding time and contribute to a pet’s mental and physical stimulation.

* Please always follow the feeding guidelines on the pack and measure the food using an accurate measuring scale to weigh your pet’s daily food portion to avoid overfeeding.

**As always, manufacturers and brands must be able to support their claims if asked.

Common Dry Pet Food Myths

"All Dry Pet Food Is The Same"

Not all dry dog or cat food is created equal. Different manufacturers use different types and quality of ingredients to offer added benefits in addition to meeting the basic nutritional requirements of pets. It is important to read the ingredients list and claims on the product and choose what is best for your pet. If you're still unsure, manufacturers and brands are contactable if you have any questions about their products.

"Dogs & Cats Need Variety In Their Food"

While animals enjoy a variety in their diet, changing their food frequently is unnecessary. Sudden changes in diet can upset your pet’s stomach and cause digestive issues. Sticking to a consistent diet that meets your pet’s nutritional needs and giving them the occasional appropriate treats is best. If a change of diet is necessary, this should be done gradually to allow a period of adjustment. This is particularly important for cats that show neophobia (reluctance or avoidance to eat new foods).

"Dry Food Is Not As Nutritious As Wet Food"

Complete dry pet food can be just as nutritious as complete wet food. Many dry food brands offer a complete and balanced diet that meets all of your pet’s nutritional needs.

"Cooking & Processing Kills Off The Nutrients & Vitamins In Dry Pet Food"

Heat processing, such as cooking or baking, can cause some loss of vitamins, particularly heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C and some B vitamins. However, to ensure a complete diet, pet food manufacturers add the necessary vitamins and minerals to their products to make up for any nutrients that may be lost during processing.

Other factors that can affect the nutrient content of pet food include the quality and freshness of the ingredients used, the processing methods employed, and the storage and handling of the finished product. You should also ensure you are practising proper handling and storage of pet food at home.

As with any form of pet food, it is important to choose a balanced and complete diet that provides all the essential nutrients that your pet needs to maintain good health and is appropriate for their age, size and activity level. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pet’s individual requirements.