The type of food you choose to feed your furry friend is one of the most important decisions you can make as a dog owner. Along with daily exercise and regular checkups with a veterinarian, the quality of your dog’s diet will play a major role in both its long-term and short-term health.
It is so important to choose high-quality dog foods with fresh ingredients, the appropriate amount of calories, and balanced nutrition. Another consideration is the type of dog food you choose. In most cases, people will choose either a hard dry kibble or a soft, gravy-covered wet food; however, there is a middle ground between these two popular varieties of dog food – soft dry dog foods.
- How Can We Help?
- What is Soft Dry Dog Food?
- Why Would You Choose Soft Dry Dog Food Instead of Dry Dog Food or Wet Dog Food?
- What Types of Dogs Should Eat Soft Dry Dog Food?
- What Are Some of the Benefits of Soft Dry Dog Food?
- The Best Options for Soft Dry Dog Food
- 1. Purina – Pro Plan Complete Essentials Shredded, Digestive Health Blend
- 2. Hill’s Science Diet – Soft Dry Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs and Skin
- 3. Royal Canin – Large Breed Soft Dry Rehydratable Food for Aging Dogs
- 4. Purina – Moist and Meaty Soft Dry Dog Food in Individual Pouches
- 5. Nutro Natural Choice – Adult and Senior Soft Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds
- 6. Iams – MiniChunks Adult Soft Dry Dog Food
- Final Words
How Can We Help?
To help you choose the right food for your canine companion, we are going to highlight some of the best soft dry dog foods on the market today. We will also explain why many dog owners choose to offer their dogs soft dry foods by highlighting some of the many advantages it offers.
We will also explain what types of dogs might prefer soft dry dog food rather than a hard kibble. If you are looking to buy high-quality soft dry food for your pup, you have come to the right place!
What is Soft Dry Dog Food?
As the name implies, soft dog food is a category of prepared dog food that consists of dry kibbles formulated to be softer than a typical dry kibble. Where wet dog food usually consists of soft pieces of protein in a flavored sauce or gravy, soft dog food still comes in the form of dry kibble, but each piece is soft and moist, especially compared to a typical dry kibble.
The fact that the soft dry dog food kibbles are usually squishy and soft also explains why we commonly call them semi-moist kibbles.
Why Would You Choose Soft Dry Dog Food Instead of Dry Dog Food or Wet Dog Food?
An increasing number of dog owners are making the switch to soft dry dog food because it makes it easier to make sure their dog eats and enjoys its food.
The truth is, many dogs prefer a softer kibble over a crunchy and crumbly kibble because the texture more closely resembles real meat. While this may lead you to believe that all dogs would prefer wet food over dry dog food, there are many reasons why most dog owners and veterinarians prefer to feed dogs dry kibbles over wet meaty dog food.
For starters, dry kibbles help clean a dog’s teeth, which is incredibly important for oral and dental health. Many dogs will swallow wet dog food chunks without chewing, dry kibble forces the dog to chew its food before swallowing it. When the dog chews the textured kibbles, the plaque and tartar that can build on the surface of each tooth are scraped away.
If plaque and tartar build on the exterior of the dog’s teeth, harmful bacteria that cause tooth plaque can spread below the gum line, leading to periodontal disease and other conditions. While you may assume that bad breath and stained teeth are the only risks of allowing plaque to build, it can lead to serious health issues requiring expensive and painful surgeries to correct. Simply put, moist dog food does not clean the teeth, which means your dog would be at a higher risk of dental disease.
Essentially, soft dog food allows you to maintain the benefits of dry kibble while being slightly more palatable for your dog. Choosing soft dry food can be a preference thing, but there are various reasons it can be a more practical choice than traditional dry dog food kibbles.
What Types of Dogs Should Eat Soft Dry Dog Food?
As long as the soft dry dog food contains an appropriate nutritional profile for your dog’s specific age and breed, you can try to see if your dog prefers it. In this sense, switching your dog to soft dry dog food can be a decision based on personal preference.
With that said, certain dogs do much better with soft dry dog food than a traditional hard dry kibble. If your dog falls into any of the following categories, you may want to consider trying out one of the many soft dry foods we will be going over at a later point:
Dogs That Are Picky About Their Food
Just like humans, some dogs can be picky eaters. If you find that your dog turns its nose up to traditional types of dry dog food, you can always try soft dry kibbles to see if they are more appetizing.
As mentioned above, some dogs prefer the moist and soft texture of soft dog food kibbles. In many cases, even the pickiest dogs will enjoy the texture and flavor of a softer kibble. If you are still looking to take advantage of the teeth cleaning benefits of hard kibbles, you can even mix your dog’s current food with some soft dry kibbles to create a more appealing meal.
Switching to a type of food your dog enjoys will make it easier to ensure it gets an adequate amount of calories and nutrients each day. While this is important for all dogs, it is particularly important for active, high-energy breeds, like Australian Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.
As dogs age, their dietary needs change rather dramatically. While this often refers to their reduced caloric needs and decreasing the amount of protein, salt, and fat they are allowed to consume each day, it is also important to make sure that they can chew the food they are offered.
As some dogs enter their senior life stage, they struggle to chew hard kibble due to decreased jaw strength or even dental issues, like missing or damaged teeth. Since chewing is the first stage of a dog’s digestive process, it is important to make sure that you offer your dog a type of food that it can actually chew and digest properly.
Again, many dog owners and veterinarians prefer that a dog stays on a diet of dry dog food for as long as possible, but if the hard kibbles it once ate are becoming too difficult to chew, you can switch the dog to soft dog food, which can be more manageable.
Since you should switch your dog to a senior food once it reaches a certain age, some find that their dog will not react well to the changes in its diet. Dogs are naturally quite particular animals that do best with a set routine. If you find your elderly dog will not eat because they do not enjoy senior-formulated dry kibbles, you can see if it is more willing to try a senior-formulated soft dry dog food. This approach can also work if your dog’s appetite has declined significantly as a natural symptom of getting older.
Puppies That Are Being Introduced to Kibbles for the First Time
As any veterinarian will tell you, puppies need a specific diet formulated to meet their exact nutritional and caloric needs. Their growing bodies require a relatively higher volume of calories and more of certain nutrients, like healthy fats and protein.
If you find that your growing pup is struggling to adjust to dry adult dog food, you can use soft dry dog food to help make the transition easier. Again, dogs tend to enjoy the moist and soft kibbles you get in a soft dry dog food more than a crunchy kibble.
While you may still want to transition your dog to a diet of hard kibbles for dental benefits, you can always use a softer kibble as a tool to wean your dog onto an adult diet. Just like you would introduce a human baby to solid foods through a weaning process, you can use soft dry dog food kibbles to help introduce your young dog to adult food for the first time.
Dogs with Digestive Issues and Damaged Teeth
As you would expect, dogs that suffer from certain health issues can find it easier to chew and digest a softer kibble. If your dog suffers from digestive issues or has damaged teeth and jaw-related injuries, a soft dry dog food might be much easier for the dog to eat than traditional hard dog food.
You can always ask your veterinarian for recommendations while your dog recovers from an injury or sickness. In most cases, an injury or illness is impacting the jaw, teeth, or stomach. The veterinarian will suggest switching to a softer and more digestible kibble, which will make it easier for the dog to eat while it is in recovery.
If you are dealing with a more permanent health issue, switching to soft dry dog food could also be a more long-term decision, which should not be a problem, as there are plenty of nutritious and healthy soft dry dog food brands out there!
What Are Some of the Benefits of Soft Dry Dog Food?
Aside from being more appetizing food for senior dogs as well as growing puppies that are first trying adult dog food, there are several other benefits that soft dry dog food can offer:
It Lasts Longer Than Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food always comes in an air-tight can or tin. Once the container is open, there is only a short period before the contents spoil. Even when refrigerated, wet food goes bad incredibly quickly.
Since you can leave soft dry dog food at room temperature, it does not spoil nearly as quickly as wet dog food. It has a similar shelf life to traditional dry dog food kibbles.
It is Less Messy Than Wet Dog Food
If you have ever served your dog wet dog food, you know how messy it can be. The liquid contents of the moist dog food container can end up all over the place, and it can be irritating to clean up. Not only can the wet dog food end up on your carpets, furniture, and just about everywhere else, you will also have to clean your dog’s food bowl between meals, as the canned dog food residue that is left behind can get quite stinky, especially if it is left to rot.
On the other hand, soft dry dog food is easy to clean and does not stain. At worst, you will just be sweeping up a few crumbs around your dog’s food bowl, which is much easier than cleaning up the mess left behind by wet food.
It is Far More Affordable Than Canned Dog Food
Canned pet food is far more expensive than dry dog food. Canned dog food tends to be at least a few dollars more per pound than the dry varieties. While the higher price might lead you to believe that canned pet food offers better quality ingredients and more nutrients, the truth is the cost is not always an indicator of quality.
Today, the best dry dog foods meet the exact nutritional requirements of dogs, which is why you will now find both hard and soft dry dog foods formulated for specific life stages and breeds.
The Best Options for Soft Dry Dog Food
Now that we have explored some of the reasons why you might want soft dry dog food for your pooch, we can take a closer look at some of the best options on the market today.
We chose each of the following soft dry dog foods because they combine quality ingredients with a healthy nutritional profile. If you are interested in finding soft dry dog food for your dog, you will find what you are looking for below!
1. Purina – Pro Plan Complete Essentials Shredded, Digestive Health Blend
Purina is one of the largest and most well-known dog food brands on the planet. Purina Pro Plan is one of the brand’s premium lines of pet food, and this high-protein blend is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a nutritious and appetizing soft dry dog food for their adult, large-breed dog.
The food consists of semi-moist, dry kibbles combined with tender pieces of shredded meat. Not only does the texture and flavor of the shredded meat and soft kibbles appeal to dogs, but it also increases the overall protein and calorie content of the food, which is great news for those that own a high-energy breed.
To help improve your dog’s digestive health, Purina also added live probiotics and natural prebiotic fiber to the soft dry kibbles. Both probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fiber help with nutrient absorption, immune system health, and overall digestive system performance. All of this can help maintain your dog’s current health and protect its long-term health.
The soft dry kibbles also contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which help your dog absorb the other nutrients in the food. The soft kibbles also contain a significant amount of Vitamin A and other essential vitamins and minerals, which helps ensure it offers everything your adult dog needs to live a happy and healthy life.
If you have an active, large-breed dog and want a soft dry dog food that can provide all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your dog needs, Purina’s Pro Plan Complete Essentials line is an excellent choice. Dogs love the taste, smell, and texture of the real pieces of beef, as well as the tenderness of the soft kibbles. While the beef and rice blend is undoubtedly the most popular flavor, Purina offers the same soft dry dog food in a Salmon and Rice option, as well as a Lamb and Rice flavor!
Key Features and Benefits:
- Added probiotics and natural prebiotic fiber help promote digestive health
- Soft dry kibbles are easier to chew and digest than traditional hard dry kibbles
- Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids help nourish the skin and coat
- Contains tender, shredded pieces of real meat for improved taste and texture
- Specifically formulated to meet the dietary requirements of adult, large-breed dogs
2. Hill’s Science Diet – Soft Dry Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs and Skin
Hill’s Science Diet is a trusted pet food brand recommended by veterinarians and dog owners worldwide. Given that the brand was founded by veterinarians specializing in clinical nutrition, it is no wonder that each of their dog food blends is tailored to meet the exact dietary requirements of canines of various life stages, sizes, and breeds.
This soft dry dog food is formulated for digestibility. Given how many adult dogs suffer from stomach issues, skin allergies, and other food-related sensitivities, it is important to have a highly nutritious option out there that is easier on their skin and digestive system.
Like the Purina Pro Plan, this blend of Hill’s Science Diet dog food is also packed with prebiotic fiber, which helps support a balanced and healthy gut microbiome. Again, this helps improve digestive system performance and ensures your dog gets all of the nutrients it needs out of the food. It contains vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids, which help to improve the look and health of your dog’s skin and coat.
The kibbles themselves are softer than you would find in typical dry dog food, which makes them both appetizing and easier for your dog to digest. They are also relatively small, which, again, makes them easier to chew and digest. Given that they still have a textured surface, chewing the kibbles will still have a cleaning effect on the surface of the teeth, which is great for maintaining good dental health.
There is a reason why Hill’s Science Diet is such a trusted pet food brand. Overall, this is an outstanding food that contains all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your dog requires to live a happy and healthy life!
Key Features and Benefits:
- Contains prebiotic fiber that is sourced from beet pulp
- Highly digestible food that is gentle on the teeth, jaw, and stomach
- Contains added Vitamin E and Omega 6 fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and a nourished coat
- Made in the USA and developed by a team of more than 220 veterinarians, food scientists, and professional nutritionists
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and function
3. Royal Canin – Large Breed Soft Dry Rehydratable Food for Aging Dogs
Royal Canin is another highly respected pet food brand that has built a reputation for offering high-quality dog food formulated to meet your dog’s exact dietary requirements. The brand itself was founded in 1968 by veterinarians that had a simple vision – to improve the overall health of dogs and cats by providing them with a nutritious and balanced diet. Their vision continues to this day, explaining why veterinarians everywhere recommend Royal Canin dog food to pet parents.
This particular blend meets the precise nutritional requirements of aging, large breed dogs weighing 56 to 100 lbs. While the kibbles are large, they are rehydratable, meaning they are much easier to chew and swallow than a typical hard dry kibble, making them ideal for senior dogs, as they often suffer from reduced jaw strength. Not only is the softer kibble easier to chew, it still has a satisfying crunch and texture, which also ensures the kibbles clean the surface of the dog’s teeth during meals.
As for the nutritional benefits of Royal Canin soft dry dog food, they’re pretty impressive. It contains the perfect balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. As dogs age, they require far less protein than they did during their younger years because they become less active and become far more susceptible to kidney issues and heart disease. The food also supports vitality and long-term health, as it contains a unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Overall, the food is perfectly suited to support healthy aging.
The kibbles also contain a minimum of at least 10% moisture, which partially explains why they are much softer than a typical hard kibble. Not only does the added water content of the kibbles help maintain a much softer texture, but it also helps ensure digestibility, so your dog’s digestive system will function healthily.
Key Features and Benefits:
- Helps support bone and joint health, which is incredibly important for aging, large breed dogs
- Highly digestible proteins and a balanced supply of soluble fiber helps promote healthy digestion
- Soft dry kibbles are textured and large enough to clean the teeth, yet contain enough moisture to make them easy for older dogs to chew
- Rehydratable kibbles, meaning you can mix warm water into the dog’s food bowl to make the kibbles even softer and easier to chew
- Specifically formulated to meet the exact dietary requirements of senior dogs
4. Purina – Moist and Meaty Soft Dry Dog Food in Individual Pouches
Purina designed their unique Moist and Meaty line of soft dry dog food to have a soft and tender texture. Dogs find the tender pieces of real meat and the soft kibbles irresistible. Luckily, Purina also formulated this unique blend of dog food to be incredibly nutritious.
Each pouch of soft and dry dog food kibbles comes packed with all of the minerals and vitamins your dog requires for healthy development and digestive function. The food meets the standards set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, which means it contains a healthy nutritional profile and uses only fresh and safe ingredients. The high protein content is also perfect for active, adult dogs.
This unique dog food stands out because Purina packages the kibbles and meat chunks in individual pouches, which helps ensure freshness and makes it much easier to maintain proper portion control for your dog. The convenient and sealed pouches also make meal-time far less messy than it would be if they used traditional dog food packaging.
While this dog food is available in many flavors, we find that dogs love the steak flavor, including real pieces of beef. If you are looking for delicious, nutritious, and easily digested food for your furry friend, you cannot go wrong with the convenient and unique Moist and Meaty pouches offered by Purina.
Key Features and Benefits:
- Contains real pieces of meat, which makes the food more appealing to dogs and ensures they have access to a high-quality protein source
- Comes with 36 of Purina’s unique ‘Stay Fresh’ pouches, which help preserve freshness and make serving the food much easier
- Complete and balanced nutrient profile for adult dogs
- The soft and moist kibbles and real chunks of meat are easy for your dog to chew and digest
- Can be added to traditional hard dry kibbles to encourage picky dogs to eat their meals
5. Nutro Natural Choice – Adult and Senior Soft Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds
Nutro Natural Choice is a relatively new dog food brand, but in the short time that their products have been on pet store shelves, they have gained a fairly large following. The reason for their growing popularity is quite simple – they use natural ingredients that meet canine dietary requirements perfectly.
Its Adult and Senior soft dry dog food blend use only the highest quality protein sources, including real meat and high-protein vegetables, like green peas. Added calcium ensures that the food supports strong bones and joints, which is particularly important for senior dogs, as they can begin to suffer from joint and bone deterioration as they age. The food also helps support the aging immune system of senior dogs by packing each soft dry kibble with plenty of essential antioxidants. While natural fiber sources help encourage healthy digestive system function.
As with all of their dog foods, this particular blend contains simple, trustworthy ingredients, which means you will find nothing but recognizable, non-GMO ingredients when you read the label. Their dog foods are also free from corn, wheat, and soy protein, which are common dog food ingredients that can trigger allergies and stomach sensitivities in certain dogs.
The kibbles are both soft and moist, so your aging, small breed dog should have no problem chewing its food. Not only is the food easier to chew and digest than a standard hard kibble, dogs love the meaty flavor and soft texture. Overall, this is a high-quality soft dry dog food that is quickly growing in popularity. If you are looking to provide your aging dog with food it will love, look no further than Nutro Natural Choice’s Adult and Senior Soft Dry Dog Food.
Key Features and Benefits:
- Made with real, high-quality protein sources, like real meat, rather than meat by-products
- Made using natural flavors and colors
- Made without unnecessary preservatives or GMO ingredients
- Soft dry kibble helps clean the teeth, without making it difficult for the dog to chew and digest the food
- Supports immune system function as well as a healthy and natural digestion
- Resealable, easy-pour packaging ensures freshness and makes it easier to fill your dog’s food bowl
6. Iams – MiniChunks Adult Soft Dry Dog Food
If you are a dog owner, you have probably come across the Iams brand at some point. It is one of the largest dog food producers worldwide, and this particular blend is much softer and more digestible than its standard dry dog food kibbles.
The kibbles and miniature chunks that give the food its name use real meat and whole grains, so you will know that your dog is getting a complete and balanced meal. The semi-moist kibbles help promote healthy digestion, and a carefully chosen blend of whole-grain fibers and prebiotics keeps the entire digestive system functioning properly.
The food also contains many natural antioxidants, which help support a strong and healthy immune system. For this particular blend, Iams uses real, farm-raised chicken meat and delivers each ingredient in the form of a soft and small kibble.
As you would expect from Iams, the food is also free from artificial preservatives and flavors, so you will know that you are feeding your furry friend a healthy meal that you can trust. Overall, it is an excellent soft dry dog food trusted by dog owners around the world.
Key Features and Benefits:
- Omega 6 fatty acids ensure healthy skin and a shiny, full coat
- Tailored blend of natural fiber and prebiotics help promote a healthy digestive system
- Lean, natural proteins help support muscle development performance
- The soft, yet textured kibbles help scrub the teeth during chewing, which helps reduce plaque and promotes good oral health
- Healthy grains and carbohydrates give active dogs the energy they require
While there is nothing wrong with traditional dry dog food, some people find that their dog does better with soft dry dog food, especially if they own a senior dog or a dog that has suffered from dental or digestive issues in the past.
As always, speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions about what type of food you should be feeding your dog. If you and your veterinarian conclude that a soft dry dog food might be worth trying, we highly recommend that you choose one of the nutritious and balanced dog foods we listed above!
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.