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US Vet: “This is the Best Soft Dry Dog Food in 2022”

Soft Dry dog food can be an excellent choice for your dog if it doesn’t contain artificial ingredients that can increase the risk for allergies and diabetes.

Many soft dog foods contain artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives, and it’s essential to ensure that the food contains high-quality ingredients.

I used my 12 years of Veterinary experience to review over 30 dog food products to find the best soft dry dog food.

After evaluating over 30 dog food recipes, I found that “Purina Beneful Simple Goodness Adult Dry Dog Food” has the best overall combination of nutrients and quality sources. 

But I understand that no two pups are alike, and your doggie might have a different life stage or have different needs, such as a sensitive stomach or obesity. That’s why I prepared a shortlist of the best soft dry dog foods that address these common conditions.

Before you pick the best soft dry dog food for Fido, it’s always important to consider whether it’s the right thing to do. That’s why I explained which dogs would benefit from soft food.

After you decide that Soft Dry Dog food is right for your doggie, you can check out these 9 soft dry foods that I shortlisted for you

If my shortlist doesn’t cover your doggie’s needs for some reason, I prepared a quick checklist that would assist you in finding the best soft dry dog food for her. I wrote the checklist in plain & simple English so that you can follow it easily.

Finally, I answered popular questions patients have asked me regarding soft dry dog food diets.

Always remember that the recommendations in this review are not intended to replace a doctor-patient relationship. Always consult your veterinarian before making significant adjustments to your furbaby’s diet.

Let’s get started.

Is a Soft Dry Dog Food diet good for your dog?

golden is happy to receive his soft dry food meal

To answer this we need to understand what soft dry food is. Also known as semi-moist, this type of food has a softer texture and a higher moisture content than kibble. Today, soft dry food is available in a variety of texture and flavor options. Some varieties have only moist chunks, while others have a blend of soft and crunchy bits.

Semi-moist food is processed differently than dry kibble. It’s cooked at a lower temperature, similar to baking a product, to preserve the moisture. As a result, the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are more protected and may be easier for your pooch to absorb. The food also maintains a feel that’s closer to fresh food and may have greater appeal to your pooch and also beneficial for dogs who have difficulty chewing hard kibble.

Whether or not semi-moist food is safe for your pooch depends on the formula and your dog’s needs. Like dry kibble and canned foods, soft dry products vary widely in nutritional value. Some products are loaded with fillers, additives, and extra salt and sugar. But other formulas contain quality ingredients like real meat, fruits, and vegetables. 

The key here is to select foods that have natural ingredients, include the nutrients your pooch needs, and start with real meats like chicken, beef, or fish. When you do that, you can be confident that you’re feeding a safe product to your special pal.

Soft dry food is beneficial in stimulating picky eaters or dogs who have difficulty chewing hard food. That being said, there are risks and benefits related to feeding your pooch a semi-moist product. 

If you plan to feed soft dry dog food to your pooch, you need to understand the potential risks and benefits. Truly, this type of diet can be more convenient than feeding wet food because there’s less mess. It can also be easier to chew than dry kibble if your furbaby has bad teeth. 

But there are some potential drawbacks and risks to feeding semi-moist food. For one, the products may have added sugar, salt or artificial ingredients Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of soft dry dog food:

Risks

  • Higher sugar and salt – semi-moist food usually contains more sugar and salt. It may not be a healthy choice for diabetic dogs or canines with Cushing’s or heart disease.
  • Artificial ingredients – many soft dog foods contain artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives. Some brands use propylene glycol to help retain moisture in the morsels. In these cases, it’s used in very small quantities that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Read those labels!
  • Choking – dogs are more likely to swallow semi-moist food without chewing the pieces
  • Cost – semi-moist products tend to cost more per energy calorie than canned or kibble.

Now that we’ve discussed the general risks involved with feeding soft dry food,  let’s look at some types of dogs that could be at risk:

  • Dogs with kidney disease –  may be more sensitive to trace amounts of propylene glycol 
  • Food gulpers –  could get pieces of soft food lodged in the esophagus and be at risk of choking
  • Dogs with Cushing’s disease – should avoid foods that are higher in salt, especially if they have high blood pressure 
  • Dogs with heart disease – cannot manage extra sodium in their diet, so foods that are high in salt may lead to water retention and place stress on the heart, kidneys, and liver
  • Diabetic dogs – should not have foods with added sugar because high blood sugar puts stress on the kidneys.

Benefits

  • Flavor – semi-moist food tends to be more flavorful than kibble.
  • Texture – the chewy texture can be easier to chew and more digestible than dry food, and it feels more like chewing real meat to your dog.
  • Convenience – soft food has less mess than wet food.
  • Shelf-life – semi-moist food is ready to eat and has a longer shelf-life than wet food.
  • Moisture – soft food has about 60-65% moisture, so it helps keep your pooch hydrated.
  • Less Residue – soft, dry dog food is less likely to leave food residue on the teeth that can cause plaque and gum disease.

Keeping the above general benefits in mind, let’s look at some types of dogs that may benefit from a soft dry dog food diet:

  • Picky Eaters – Semi-moist dog food often has more flavor than dry kibble. That’s why many pups, including some picky eaters, will gobble up soft dog food.
  • Seniors – As our four-footed friends age, they may lose teeth or have weaker, more sensitive teeth. Crunching hard, dry food can be painful and difficult for such dogs. Soft, chewy food will be easier to chew and digest.
  • Dogs With Dental Problems – If your pooch has tooth or gum disease, he may have difficulty chewing hard kibble. Semi-moist food will be gentler on sore teeth and gums.

Provide all the Nutrients with Soft Dry Dog Food

dog is staring at a bowl of blueberries and strawberries

When picking the right dog food formulation, you need to ensure that your dog will receive all the required nutrients. 

Not very long ago, there were only a few soft dry dog food options available. But now, you can choose from grain-free options, various protein sources, and many different brands. 

For your convenience, we’ve created a rule of thumb checklist to make it easier for you to choose the right soft dry dog food formulation that fits best for your doggie:

  • Life-Stage Appropriate – Dogs have different nutritional needs at different times in their life. Puppies need more energy and protein to fuel their growth and activity. Seniors may need supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin or taurine to support their body systems as they age.
  • Meets Your Dog’s Individual Dietary Needs – If you have a dog with special needs such as a dog with joint disease or a sensitive stomach, choose food that provides the right nutritional support. For example:
    • Sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
    • Low fat and low calorie for weight loss
    • Limited ingredients for food allergies
    • Probiotics and prebiotic fiber for a sensitive stomach
  • Protein is the First Ingredient – As carnivores, dogs need protein to support their lean muscle mass. A quality animal protein such as chicken, beef, or fish should be the first ingredient.
  • Offers Complete and Balanced Nutrition – Make sure that the product meets your furbaby’s nutritional needs. Look for a statement on the package that indicates the food was formulated to meet the nutritional guidelines recommended by AAFCO for complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Contains Healthy Fats Including Omega Fatty Acids – Dogs need a moderate level of fat for energy and to support different body systems. Check the ingredients for ingredients that supply essential fatty acids. There should also be sources of omega fatty acids to support the skin and coat.
  • Includes Fiber-Rich Ingredients – Products that are rich in fiber help foster a healthy digestive system. Look for whole food ingredients such as fruits, whole grains, and garden vegetables as digestible fiber sources.
  • Manufactured in a Country With Strict Safety Standards – You want to have confidence that your pup’s food is unadulterated and safe to eat. Check the label to ensure that it was produced in a nation that follows good manufacturing practices and has strict food safety protocols. 
  • Contains No Meat Meals or By-Products – Generic meat meals and animal by-products can include parts of the body that have no nutritional value for your pooch. Avoid foods that list these generic materials in the ingredients. 

Our 2022 Review For 9 Dog Foods For Soft Dry Dog Food

dog is waiting to taste for the first time a soft dry food meal

We reviewed over 30 products by following the process presented above and classified the best soft dry dog foods. 

We considered the life stage, essential nutrients and ensured their quality.

Purina Beneful Simple Goodness Adult Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, malted barley extract, soy flour, soy grits, water
  • Key feature: Natural ingredients
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Crude Protein; 7% Crude Fat; 3% Crude Fiber; 33% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 353 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: semi-moist chewy chunks
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Overall top pick
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for maintenance of adult dogs

This product starts with real beef to provide essential amino acids for your pal’s muscles. With natural sources of omega fatty acids and other healthy fats, the formula provides energy and nutrients to support a healthy coat and skin.

Peas and carrots in the blend are rich sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene that help ensure cellular health and repair. There are no artificial colors or flavors in the formula. A balanced blend of vitamins and minerals supports whole-body nutrition.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Corn
  • Key feature: natural food
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein; 16% Crude Fat; 5% Crude Fiber; 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 390 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: kibble/semi-moist blend
  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Best for: Puppies and Active Dogs
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages including growth of large breed dogs

Chicken and chicken meal pack this formula with protein for growing puppies and active dogs. The amino acid sources help support muscle development and maintenance. Healthy sources of fat offer omega fatty acids and other essential fatty acids for the skin, coat, and other body systems.

The formula includes garden vegetables and beet pulp to provide your pooch with digestible and prebiotic fiber. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals ensures balanced nutrition for your pooch. 

Whole grains provide the energy an active dog or puppy needs. The formula includes sources of glucosamine and chondroitin and a balance of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and healthy joints. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Purina Pro Plan 7+ Shredded Blend Chicken and Rice Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal
  • Key feature: soft/shredded and crunchy blend
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 29% Crude Protein; 14% Crude Fat; 3% Crude Fiber; 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 366 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: kibble/semi-moist blend
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best for: Seniors
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for maintenance

Starting with chicken, this product contains the amino acids your four-footed friend needs to support healthy muscles and taurine for heart health. Beef fat and fish oil provide essential fatty acids and omegas to fuel your pal’s activity and promote brain, coat, and skin health.

Natural sources of glucosamine help to foster joint health and mobility. Fiber from whole grains and a minimum of 600 million CFU/lb of probiotic microorganisms soothes and supports the gut for normal digestion.

The blend of tender meaty pieces and crunchy kibble give your pooch a delightful texture. With a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals, this formula supports total health.

Dog Chow Tender & Crunchy with Real Lamb Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Meat And Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal
  • Key feature: Real Lamb
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 21% Crude Protein; 10% Crude Fat; 4% Crude Fiber; 14% Moisture
  • Caloric Content:  368 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: kibble/semi-moist blend
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Budget
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for maintenance of adult dogs

While this product starts with whole grains, it also contains real lamb as a lean protein source to provide your pooch with essential amino acids and a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. Beef fat provides essential fatty acids and omegas to support your pal’s energy needs, coat, and skin.

With digestible ingredients and an appealing combination of soft and crunchy bits, this food is designed to delight the palate. The formula includes a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals for whole-body health.

Evanger’s Super Premium Chicken with Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food 

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Oatmeal
  • Key feature: protein-based
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein; 15% Crude Fat; 4% Crude Fiber; 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 406 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: dry dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Sensitive Stomach
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages

Starting with digestible chicken and chicken meal, this product offers your pooch protein for strong muscles. The fat comes from healthy sources to provide your pooch with essential amino acids for immune support and a healthy coat.

With yucca schidigera extract in the formula to battle inflammation, prebiotic fiber, and probiotics, this food is made to support healthy digestion. Oatmeal and brown rice are gentle on the stomach and provide energy for daily activity.

This food includes a blend of fruits and garden vegetables that supply antioxidants, digestible fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Supplementation with essential nutrients ensures complete and balanced nutrition for your dog. There are no artificial ingredients, corn, wheat, or soy in the formula. 

Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor Dry Dog Food, 6-oz pouch

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef By-Product, Soy Flour, Soy Grits, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water
  • Key feature: soft and chewy
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Crude Protein; 7% Crude Fat; 3% Crude Fiber; 33% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 474 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: soft, dry dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Adults
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for maintenance

This product starts with beef by-product and soy in the top three ingredients. The combination of plant and animal protein sources offers amino acids for your pal’s muscles. Beef fat provides a source of essential fatty acids for a glossy coat and healthy skin. 

The moisture in this formula helps to give the tender chunks a yummy meaty flavor. With easy-to-chew pieces, your pal will be able to eat this without difficulty. 

The convenient, no-mess pouches allow you to feed your pooch anywhere, any time. Use it as a complete meal or a tasty topper for your furbaby.

Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, Beef Lung, Beef Liver, Whole Wheat Flour, Egg Product
  • Key feature: Limited-Ingredient
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 13% Crude Protein; 5% Crude Fat; 2% Crude Fiber; 43% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 415 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: semi-moist dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Allergies
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages

High in digestible protein on a dry matter basis, this product from Redbarn Naturals offers a delectable dinner for your pooch. Amino Acids from beef support lean muscle mass and a healthy heart. Beef organs and flaxseed provide rich sources of essential fatty acids and omegas to support immunity, brain, skin, and hair.

With limited, digestible ingredients, the formula supports dogs with allergies. Added vitamins and minerals complete a balanced nutritional profile. 

The moisture content in this pate adds to the flavor appeal. It’s easy to use as a topper, main course, or for training treats. There’s no corn, soy, or wheat in the food. 

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Mini Meals Shredded Chicken & Turkey in Gravy Dog Food Pouches

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato Starch, Turkey
  • Key feature: Grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 8% Crude Protein; 3% Crude Fat; 1% Crude Fiber; 82% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 90 kcal/pouch
  • Type of Product: semi-moist dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult Small Breed
  • Best for: Grain-free and Weight Loss
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages

Chicken is the top ingredient in this tasty food. With two animal proteins in the top five materials, your pooch will have the amino acids he needs to support lean muscle mass. Healthy sources of fat provide essential fatty acids and energy for your furbaby. 

With digestible materials and no grains, this formula is made to be easy on the gut. Packed in a tasty gravy, the meal is designed to delight your small breed pooch. It’s supplemented with vitamins and minerals to provide complete and balanced nutrition. 

This product is free of artificial ingredients, meat by-products, or chemical preservatives. 

It comes in convenient and easy-to-use packages. 

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Belly Bites Grain-Free Salmon & Legume Formula Dog Treats

  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Peas, Vegetable Glycerin, Garbanzo Beans, Cane Molasses
  • Key feature: Grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 13% Crude Protein; 7% Crude Fat; 5% Crude Fiber; 25% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 9 kcal/treat
  • Type of Product: chewy dog treats
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Best for: Treats
  • AAFCO Statement: intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only

Salmon is the first ingredient in this tasty treat. Each tidbit is just 9 calories, so you can give your pooch a yummy bite without spoiling his diet. Healthy fats help to supplement your dog’s nutritional needs.

There are no grains, soy, wheat, corn, or rice in this product. It’s made in the USA using natural ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

happy dog is smiling at his owner

Soft Dry Dog Food vs. Kibble vs. Wet Dog Food: What’s the Difference?

Besides the noticeable difference in texture between these three dog food varieties, there are other distinctive characteristics:

  • Dry Kibble – In addition to being crunchy, dry kibble has the lowest moisture content, usually around 10%. It tends to be the least expensive option of the three. Benefits of quality kibble brands include that it can help keep teeth clean, and it tends to have more nutritional value than semi-moist food.
  • Soft Dry Dog Food – Besides being tender and chewy, semi-moist food has a higher moisture content of around 60-65%. It will usually have more taste appeal than dry food and may be easier to digest. Generally, soft dog food has a lower nutritional quality and higher levels of sugar and salt. It may also contribute to dental disease and decay. Semi-moist products are more convenient and have a longer shelf life than canned products.
  • Wet Dog Food – Wet dog food has the highest moisture content. Wet foods will either come in a ground form or have chunks in gravy. For flavor, dogs usually prefer wet over semi-moist or kibble. Premium canned products may have the highest nutritional quality of the three varieties because they don’t need fillers. However, it can contribute to tooth decay. This type of food is also a more expensive option. 

Is there dry dog food that is soft?

Yes, there are some dog foods that are soft and dry. Check out our review below for a few products.

How do you soften kibble on dog food?

You can soften hard kibble by adding some warm water and letting it sit for a few minutes.

What is the best soft dog food for older dogs?

Our recommendation in this review is for Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables Garnish. Always select a food that meets your dog’s specific nutritional needs.

Is soft food better for older dogs?

Many older dogs have weak and sensitive teeth. Semi-moist dog food can be easier for them to chew. You can also add warm water to dry kibble or feed canned food.

Can dogs without teeth eat dry food?

If your dog has lost all his teeth, you can continue feeding him kibble if you moisten it with warm water, low-sodium broth, or gravy. Another option is to transition to soft food for easier chewing.

What is Moist Dog Food?

Moist dog food is a category of food with about 60-65% moisture. It maintains its shape but is not crunchy.

Does dry dog food with soft pieces contain all the required nutrients?​

Dry food that includes soft pieces can contain all the required nutrients for your pooch. Always check the label for a statement that the formula meets AAFCO requirements for complete and balanced nutrition.

When can dogs eat soft food?

Dogs can eat soft food at any age. It can be helpful with young puppies that are transitioning to solid food, dogs with gum disease or missing teeth, and older dogs.

How often should you feed your dog soft food?

If you’re feeding your pooch soft food, you should feed them at the same frequency as you would if you were feeding kibble.

What ingredients should I look for in soft dry dog food?

The first ingredient should be an animal-based protein. It’s also helpful to have whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy sources of fat that include omega fatty acids are also desirable.

Final Woof

For pups that need softer fare, feeding a semi-moist dog food can be helpful. Quality products should start with protein as the top ingredient and meet your furbaby’s nutritional needs for his life stage. 

Products that are free of meat and bone meals and contain healthy fats help to provide superior nutrition. Although a challenge to find, soft dog food with no artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives is ideal. 

After evaluating over 30 products on the market and comparing them to our criteria and key considerations for a soft dry dog food based diet, we recommend Purina Beneful Simple Goodness Adult Dry Dog Food  as the Best overall pick. It offers complete and balanced nutrition without fillers or unnecessary ingredients. 

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