Switching From Soft Dog Food to Hard

Weigh your options before making your next dog food purchase.
Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Although most high-quality dog foods will have comparable flavors and ingredients, there are some differences between soft canned food and hard dry dog food that you should consider. Take a look at both sides before making the commitment to switch up your pooch’s diet.

Why Switch

For various reasons, many pet owners make the switch from soft to hard food. Dry dog food can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean. This is due to the fact that chomping away at those dry pellets can help reduce tartar and plaque buildup. Soft food tends to get stuck in your little guy’s teeth and can cause dental problems. Dry dog food is usually cheaper and is more convenient to use than soft dog food. Soft food tends to have a short shelf life once it’s opened, although it does last longer than dry food if it’s unopened and still in the can.

Why Not to Switch

There are a few things to consider before making your decision to switch. Hard dry food tends to lose some of its nutrients as it is processed and baked. Soft food is processed less and protected inside a can so it doesn’t need as many preservatives as the dry type. Canned food usually has more meat protein, lower carbohydrates and fewer fillers than the dry kind. If your dog is a puppy that is being weaned from his mother or a dog with sore teeth or gums, soft is the way to go, as it’s easier to eat. An overweight dog can benefit from the high water content of canned food because it will fill him up faster without eating extra calories.

When to Switch

Keep in mind the following if you’ve decided to make the switch. A puppy should have soft food as he’s weaning from 3 or 4 weeks to 8 weeks of age. Between 7 and 8 weeks, you can make a smooth transition from soft to hard. For older dogs, plan ahead and work your way through your current supply of soft food until you have less than a week’s worth left. Buy a bag of high-quality dry food and make the transition, mixing in increasing amounts of dry while using up the last of the canned food.

If you have any unopened, not expired canned food left after the transition, donate it to another pet owner or to your local animal shelter.

How to Transition

Transitioning from soft to hard food should be done over the course of a week. This will help avoid upsetting your pooch’s tummy. On the first day, mix 25 percent dry food with 75 percent soft food and offer it to your dog. On day three, stir together a 50/50 soft and dry mix. The fifth day should be three-quarters dry mixed with one-quarter soft food. The last day of the week should be all dry food.