What Is Softened Dog Food?

These softened chunks in gravy are one softened food option.
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Softened dog food can refer to a variety of food such as canned, soft bites or even dry kibble softened with gravy or broth. Softened food can also describe the food consistency level, such as mushy or soft chunks. For many dogs, dry kibble is not an option. Be it taste preference or a medical condition, many dogs require a softer food.

Types of Softened Food

When looking at dog foods in the store, you have a variety of different options to choose from. Canned foods come in various forms, such as chunky bites of soft meat or mushy pate. Softened foods are also available in small foil packages that usually include small pieces of meats and vegetables in a gravy sauce. Many dry kibble packages offer soft pieces mixed in as well. Another option for softened food is homemade meals of cooked meats, vegetables and grains. These foods can be bite-sized soft pieces or placed in a food processor to puree. You can also soften dry kibble by adding gravy, broth or water.


Softened foods, either in a can, semi-moist or homemade, provide higher moisture content than dry dog food. This is beneficial for dogs with urinary tract problems and helpful for maintaining hydration. Canned and moist dog foods generally contain higher amounts of proteins and reduced amounts of carbohydrates. Unlike dry kibble, canned dog food is generally lower in preservatives and artificial flavors. Softened dog food is easier for dogs with dental issues or problems chewing to eat. Softened dry kibble helps transition puppies from mother’s milk to regular food.


Canned or moist food sold commercially is often more expensive than dry kibble. Canned and softened foods have a long shelf life until opened. Once opened, you must serve it all immediately or refrigerate the leftovers. Unlike dry kibble, moist food cannot sit out all day. The moisture attracts bacteria. You must wash out the dog food bowl between feedings to remove any leftover softened food to reduce the bacteria risk or mold growth. Soft food can also become stuck in your dog’s teeth, which can contribute to dental issues and stinky breath. Transferring to soft foods may loosen your dog’s stool.


Before changing your dog’s diet, consult a veterinarian or canine nutritionist. If soft food is required for a medical condition, talk with your veterinarian about your different options. Changing over to soft food may take time, and because of the higher protein and moisture, may require serving adjustments to maintain your dog’s healthy weight.