In this article you will find:
- Semi-moist Dog Food Today
- Hidden semi-moist foods
- Top Rated Semi-moist Dog Foods
- 1. The Farmer's Dog Fresh Pet Food
- 2. Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll
- 3. Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor
- 4. Purina ProPlan Savor
- 5. Evanger's Meat Lover's Medley with Rabbit
- 6. Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula
- 7. Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef
- 8. Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables
- 9. Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor
- 10. Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor
- Background for semi-moist dog food
- Popular semi-moist dog foods today
- Is semi moist dog food good for dogs?
- Is there a dry dog food that is soft?
- What is the best semi moist dog food?
- Is soft food better for older dogs?
Traditionally, semi-moist dog food has been among the least favored ways to feed dogs. This is despite the fact that most dogs are happy to wolf down semi-moist foods. They are normally a big favorite with dogs.
But there have always been nutritional drawbacks to feeding a steady diet of semi-moist dog food. However, as with most other things in the pet food world, times are changing.
Today there are semi-moist dog foods that are quite nutritious. Depending on your dog and your budget, there is no reason not to consider feeding them.
Fore some background on semi-moist foods, complete details are found below.
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Semi-moist Dog Food Today
Today soft-moist foods can be said to exist but most of them no longer exist in the same form they once did. There are still a few semi-moist foods similar to Gaines Burgers or Tender Vittles but you will also find dry dog foods that contain some soft, chewy pieces. Some semi-moist foods today come in pouches and trays.
There are dog food toppers and mixers with semi-moist pieces included that you can add to your dog’s regular dog food. You can also buy rolled dog food and slice off pieces to feed your dog at meal time.
These rolls could be considered “semi-moist” or soft-moist foods since they are neither dry nor canned foods, and they don’t fit into the frozen, freeze-dried or any other category.
Many of the semi-moist foods today are also healthier than semi-moist foods in the past, responding to their customers’ calls for better ingredients and fewer unhealthy additives.
This should provide you with an overview of semi-moist dog food. Next, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of soft-moist foods, though these, too, have changed over the years.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR BEST SEMI-MOIST DOG FOODS
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Hidden semi-moist foods
While there aren’t a lot of semi moist dog foods sold in the U.S. today, there are some foods that include bits and soft pieces of kibble in regular dry dog food. These foods may be advertised as “chewy” or “tasty” or they may have “morsels.”
If you see one of these terms you should check the ingredients for corn syrup, propylene glycol, and other indications that the food contains semi-moist pieces. Some of these foods are perfectly fine but some are less desirable.
Top Rated Semi-moist Dog Foods
The Farmer's Dog Fresh Pet Food
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Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll
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Purina Moist & Meaty Burger
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Purina ProPlan Savor
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Evanger's Meat Lover's Medley with Rabbit
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Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula
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Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef
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Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables
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Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor
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Kibbles 'n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor
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In the US, some of the most popular semi-moist dog foods are:
- The Farmer's Dog Fresh Pet Food
- Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll
- Purina Moist & Meaty Burger
- Purina ProPlan Savor
- Evanger's Meat Lover's Medley with Rabbit
- Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula
- Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef
- Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables
- Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor
- Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor
1. The Farmer's Dog Fresh Pet Food
The Farmer's Dog is a dog food service that provides specific recipes based on whole, natural ingredients. They only use human grade foods and with a limited ingredient list.
Co-founder Brett Podolsky’s beloved dog Jada spent the first two years of her life sick with digestion issues. He tried everything he could, but nothing worked until he switched to healthy cooked meals for her. That fresh food gave her relief.
That got him thinking, what if he could help other dog owners provide the same nutrition and relief to their own dogs without the hassle of experimenting and trial and error? He teamed up with his friend Jonathan Regev and soon after The Farmer’s Dog was born.
The duo worked with veterinarians and vet nutritionists to create recipes that blended human grade ingredients, creating balanced and nutritious meals.
The company has three recipes of cooked food delivered frozen to your house:
- Pork and Sweet Potato
- Beef and Lentils
- Turkey and Parsnip
To preserve freshness, the meals are delivered the same week that they’re prepared in the company’s kitchens. As a part of the sign-up process, you’ll create a personalized profile about your dog or dogs. The company uses that information to prepare and deliver your dog’s nutritionally balanced food.
Their recipes are formulated to be 100% complete and balanced, adhering to the AAFCO guidelines. All the ingredients are human-grade and sourced from reputable food suppliers that meet USDA standards.
Since the meals are prepared and shipped fresh, preservatives are not needed. Just keep them frozen and thaw before feeding.
2. Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll
At the other extreme are the soft-moist dog food rolls like those from Redbarn and Natural Balance. We can look at Redbarn Naturals Dog Food Roll as an example. This food has 14 percent crude protein, 6 percent crude fat, 3 percent crude fiber, and 43 percent moisture.
It has 2,345 kcal/kg, or 333 kcal per one inch of roll so it’s very calorie-dense. The roll has over 50 percent real meat. People who feed using dog food rolls say they are more convenient than feeding a raw diet.
The food is made using a low temperature cooking process to retain more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. All you do is slice or cube some food from the roll and feed it to your dog. It also makes a great training treat, a protein supplement for your dog’s regular food, or an easy wide to hide pills if you need to give your dog medication.
AAFCO-approved for all life stages. No corn, wheat, or soy and it’s grain free. Most dogs love these dog food rolls.
This dog food roll does contain some sugar which probably makes it tasty to your dog. And it has some sources of salt like other soft-moist foods. But it still has to be considered an improvement over some other semi-moist dog foods.
3. Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor
Although this food is called a “dry dog food,” it comes in a 6-ounce pouch and is sold in cases. It’s 18 percent crude protein, 7 percent crude fat, 3 percent crude fiber, and 33 percent moisture.
Made with real beef with added cheddar cheese burger flavor. Purina says the product can be served as a meal, snack, or topper. It has 470 kcal per 6 ounce pouch.
We could have marked more ingredients but we only marked the worst. You really don’t want to see ethoxyquin added to your dog’s food. Since it’s listed on the label it means that it was added to the food at the pet food plant where the food was made.
Yet this food is an old favorite for some pet lovers and dogs probably like the taste of it since it has corn syrup and cheese powder in it. Unfortunately, just because your dog likes something doesn’t mean it’s good for him.
4. Purina ProPlan Savor
If you’re interested in a dry dog food with semi-moist pieces, the Purina ProPlan Savor line of dog foods include soft-moist pieces in their kibbles. You may or may not like some of the other ingredients in their foods but ProPlan is considered to be a nutritious food and Purina has excellent quality control.
If you are interested in feeding semi-moist dog food, we recommend reading the ingredients and figuring the dry matter basis of the food as you would with dry dog food or canned foods. This makes comparisons much easier.
Dogs nearly always love semi-moist foods so you can’t let your dog make this decision. Read the labels and look at the percentages.
5. Evanger's Meat Lover's Medley with Rabbit
Evanger's Grain-Free Meat Lover’s Medley With Rabbit is a semi-moist dry dog food made of rabbit, pork, and beef. According to Evanger's website, their semi-moist dehydrated food consists of rough grinding and mixing. The product is then air dried at low temperatures to retain many of the nutrients, enzymes, and flavor.
This grain-free semi moist dog food from Evanger’s has only high-quality meat and nutritious plant-based ingredients such as sweet potatoes, lentils, peas, coconut oil, dried cranberries, and blueberries among others. It contains no corn, wheat, or soy.
Grain-free Meat Lover’s Medley also has probiotics to support good gut and overall health. This semi-moist dog food is also enriched with omega-3 and omga-6 fatty acids to help support joint skin and coat health.
According to reviews, dogs just love the flavor-packed, meaty morsels of this Evanger’s product. This healthy, grain-free recipe will assure you that not only are your dogs getting an extra tasty meal, but they are also getting a lot of nutrients from it.
The first five ingredients of Evanger's Grain-Free Meat Lover’s Medley With Rabbit Dry Food are pork meal, sweet potatoes, buffalo meal, lentils, and peas.
6. Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula
Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula Adult is a dry dog food that has soft bites, crunchy kibbles, and garden vegetables. Made of real deboned chicken, you can be assured that your dog is getting a high-quality source of protein.
Aside from having deboned chicken as the most plentiful ingredient, this Authority Tender Bites has a unique antioxidant blend of selenium, zinc, and vitamin E for a stronger immune system. Prebiotics and natural fiber help support gut health for better digestion as well as absorption of nutrients. Omega fatty acids as included for skin and coat health.
Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula is not only tasty and nutritious. The crunchy kibbles that come with the soft bites are specially formulated with Authority’s Ora-Shield. Ora-Shield gives the crunchy kibbles an abrasive texture that helps reduce plaque and tartar.
According to reviews, pups of all ages just love Authority Tender Blends’ mix of soft morsels, crunchy kibbles, and veggies. Some dogs who dislike dry food has been converted by this recipe from Authority.
The first five ingredients of Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula Adult are deboned chicken, chicken meal, corn, brown rice, and oat groats.
7. Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef
Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef is a semi-moist dry dog food made of real beef and vegetables. The tender morsels provide complete and balanced nutrition, so it can be given as a meal on its own. The semi-moist kibbles can also be mixed with crunchy dry kibble or wet dog food.
This Purina Beneful Simple Goodness recipe is packed with flavor from beef and beef fat. It has nutritious carrots and peas that you can see in each morsel. It is enriched with vitamins and minerals to help support your dog’s overall health.
Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef has no by-product meals. It is free from artificial enhancers such as flavors, colors, or preservatives. With this product, your dog can indulge in a tasty, semi-moist meal without you worrying about potentially harmful ingredients.
Reviews for this Purina Beneful beef recipe say that this semi-moist dog food is enjoyed by dogs so much that some owners even give them as treats. Pups just love to have it for meals, snacks, and treats. Even dogs who have sensitive stomachs and skin thrive on this food.
The first five ingredients of this Beneful recipe are beef, soy flour, soy grits, malted barley extract, and water.
8. Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables
Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables Garnish Small Breed is another product that is made specifically for small breed dogs. This filet mignon and spring veggies recipe features a mix of tender, meaty pieces and crunchy kibbles. It has H-shaped kibbles to help keep teeth and gums healthy.
Made with real beef, Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables has the protein your dog needs to help her build strong and lean muscles. This mix of crunchy and tender pieces has 26 nutrients to help support the overall health of small dogs of all life stages.
According to reviews for this product from Cesar, this filet mignon recipe is quite gentle on little dogs’ stomachs. It is also quite tasty, and the little pooches just can’t get enough of this food.
The first five ingredients of Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables Garnish Small Breed are beef, chicken-byproduct meal, ground yellow corn, ground wheat, and brewer's rice.
9. Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor
Formulated specifically for the nutritional needs of little pooches, Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor Small Breed is a dry dog food with soft and meaty morsels. The size and shape of the tender bites and crunchy kibbles are designed for small dogs to easily pick up in their mouths and chew.
Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor is enriched with vitamins and minerals for complete and balanced nutrition, and to help support the immune system and oral health. It has omega fatty acids to promote skin and coat health.
This Tender Bites recipe from Pedigree is free from high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.
This is another semi-soft dry food that seems popular among dogs. They enjoy the crunch + soft chicken and steak kibbles. Even little senior dogs who have lost a few teeth are able to enjoy this Pedigree recipe, according to reviews. However, some pet parents expected softer morsels from Tender Bites.
The first five ingredients of Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor Small Breed are ground whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), corn gluten meal, animal fat (source of omega 6 fatty acids) [preserved with BHA/citric acid]), and soybean meal.
10. Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor
Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor features dual-texture kibbles instead of the usual mix of crunchy and tender kibbles. The kibbles of this prime rib recipe have a crunchy outer layer and a chewy, meaty center. Made with real beef, these extra tasty Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food is a hit among adult pooches.
Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor is enriched with vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s overall health. It provides compete and balanced nutrition with every serving. This Meaty Middles recipe offers the crunch of dry kibbles and the meaty goodness of chewy meat morsels.
Reviews for this product state that dogs absolutely love this prime rib recipe from Kibbles ‘n Bits. They get super excited for mealtimes and gobble up the dual-texture pieces. Even dogs who are not fans of dry kibble love Meaty Middles. This dog food is great for dogs who find it difficult to chew regular dry kibbles.
The first five ingredients of Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor are corn, soybean meal, beef & bone meal, animal fat (BHA used as a preservative), and wheat middlings.
Background for semi-moist dog food
If you know much about the history of dog food you probably know that commercial dog food started with hard “dog cakes” or biscuits for dogs in the second half of the 19th century. In the 1920s, canned horse meat became the first popular canned food for dogs.
By 1941, 90 percent of the dog food sold in the U.S. was canned food. Extruded dry dog food – the kind of dry dog food most popular today – came on the scene in the 1950s.
The brand Gaines Burgers was introduced in 1961 by General Foods and stayed in production through the 1990s. The product featured individually wrapped hamburger-like patties of soft-moist dog food. It may have been the first semi-moist or soft-moist dog food.
These patties could be stored indefinitely at room temperature. Soft-moist products were relatively new at the time and the technology was adapted and refined to make human food products during the 1960s-70s. Gaines Burgers were a favorite with many owners and their dogs. They were inexpensive, convenient, and easy to feed without any mess.
According to this January 1974 New York Times article, semi-moist pet food was growing rapidly, though it was still new on the scene.
Semi‐moist pet food, primarily meat and packaged as patties or moist bits, held 17 per cent of the 1973 dog food market and 7.7 per cent of the cat food market. Purina’s new product line – Tender Vittles – was a soft-moist cat food and one of their big sellers at the time.
Sales of semi-moist pet foods were growing rapidly in the early 1970s.
The fastest‐growing segment of the business is the semi‐moist type, with annual dollar sales gains averaging well over 15 per cent in the past five years. General Foods developed semi‐moist and ‘marketed it first as Gaines Burgers in 1964.
Paul A. Setzer, editor of the trade magazine, Pets, Supplies, Marketing, says semi‐moist is booming because, “it combines the best of both dry and canned. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, it's neat and easy to serve and it comes in portion packets.”
In 1974, when this article was written for the New York Times, pet food companies were just beginning to create and market “gourmet” pet foods, though most of them would seem fairly basic to pet owners today. As the time, semi-moist or soft-moist pet foods were the newest innovation in pet food but that was 40 years ago.
Pet food companies, large and small, have come up with many other developments for dogs (and cats) since that time. Gaines Burgers no longer exist. Many of the companies mentioned in the NY Times article no longer exist. Tender Vittles made by Purina was discontinued in 2007, though it has been relaunched by another company and is sold in WalMart stores.
Popular semi-moist dog foods today
If you search for semi-moist dog foods online you’ll notice that there aren’t nearly as many of these foods as there are dry dog foods or canned foods. This segment of the pet food market is growing in many countries but it’s still rather small.
According to Lindsay Beaton in “Pet Food Market Trends” (August 2015) reporting on global trends looked at the top 102 pet food companies that had 2013 revenue data available to see trends in different regions.
Semi-moist pet food is another subcategory that covers a lot of ground, but many products in the category fall into the specialty segment. The top nine companies manufacturing semi-moist pet food are a diverse group, based in Germany, Brazil, the US, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Chile and the Czech Republic. Combined, their annual revenue hit US$2.65 billion in 2013, with Germany-based Deuerer leading the pack at US$721.1 million.
While $2.65 billion in global sales for soft-moist pet food probably sounds like a lot of money, when you consider that the total global revenue from pet foods is about $70 billion, semi-moist foods still have a long way to go before they catch up with dry or canned foods.
According to our research, dry dog food is still the most popular pet food segment. Canned food is more popular in the U.S. while food in pouches is more popular in Europe. Pouches may or may not contain soft-moist food. Some of them are simply wet food.
Pros and cons
Semi-moist dog foods cover a wide range of products, making it hard to generalize about them, but here are some pros and cons about the category. Keep in mind that not all semi moist dog foods will be covered by these pros and cons.
- Convenient: Semi-moist dog foods have always had nice packaging that is easy to open, easy to store. Most of them do not require refrigeration, though some may need to be refrigerated after opening.
- No mess: Semi-moist foods are not as messy as canned foods. Many of them have soft pieces or they break apart easily.
- Dogs love them: Most dogs love the taste of semi-moist foods more than dry dog food.
- Popular for older dogs and dogs with teeth problems: Because semi-moist foods are soft, they are easy for dogs to chew, especially if you have an older dog or a dog with dental problems.
- Good for dogs that won’t eat: Many dogs with a picky appetite will eat semi moist dog foods.
- Price: Semi-moist dog food is generally more expensive per ounce than dry dog food but less expensive than canned food, depending on the brand.
- Nutritional concerns: Many semi-moist foods in the past have had lots of sugar (often in the form of corn syrup) and salt. This makes them tasty to dogs but not very healthy.
- Artificial colors and preservatives: Some semi-moist foods use artificial colors and preservatives. The colors make the foods more appealing to buyers while the preservatives assure a long shelf-life.
- Propylene glycol: Semi-moist foods are often soft and chewy. In order to achieve this texture, pet food companies often use the humectant propylene glycol to retain moisture. The FDA considers propylene glycol GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in dog foods. Used in the small amounts found in dog foods, it is considered to be safe. However, if your dog should consumer very large amounts, it would be harmful. It is not safe for cats in any amount. Purina, which uses propylene glycol in some of its semi-moist dog foods, has this to say about the substance:
“Propylene glycol functions as a humectant food additive and preservative. In other words, we use propylene glycol to help keep the semi-moist kibbles soft and moist. Beneful consumers love the variety of ingredients, which includes some kibble that is crunchy and some that is soft and moist. Propylene glycol is only an ingredient in varieties of Dog Chow that are softer, like for seniors, or have a mix of moist and crunchy kibble. The other brands just include hard crunchy kibble.”
Propylene glycol is not used in Purina’s ProPlan, Purina One, Beyond, Alpo or Chef Michael’s dry dog food formulas.
Even with assurances from pet food companies and the FDA, many pet lovers do not like to feed foods that contain propylene glycol.
Some semi-moist dog foods use ingredients other than propylene glycol to keep their foods soft and chewy. Vegetable glycerin can be used in place of propylene glycol, for example. In addition, there are products sold today that are healthier than semi moist dog foods in the past.
Not all soft-moist dog foods pack the sugar and salt that semi-moist foods did in the 1970s and ‘80s. Some semi-moist dog foods use good quality ingredients – and some don’t. We’ll look at some specific foods so you can see what their ingredients look like.
There simply aren’t a lot of semi-moist dog foods available in the U.S. today, though you can find toppers, mixers, and treats that fall in the semi-moist category. If you are in doubt if a food or treat is semi-moist or not, check the moisture percentage.
Canned/wet foods typically have a moisture percentage of around 75 percent or more. Dry dog foods usually have a moisture percentage around 10-12 percent.
Semi-moist foods usually have a mid-range moisture percentage from about 30-50 percent moisture. And, if a food boasts that it is made with stew, broth, or gravy, it’s likely a canned/wet food. Pate, too, is usually a canned food.
Is semi moist dog food good for dogs?
Semi-moist dog food contains about 60-65% water by weight, making it more expensive per energy calorie than dry food. The extra sugar and salt mean semi-moist food is not appropriate for every dog.
Is there a dry dog food that is soft?
Some dog food brands contain both dry kibble and tender, chewy pieces, which are the soft dry pieces. For example, most Purina ONE® SmartBlend® formulas combine dry kibble with tender, meaty morsels, which enhance palatability and add textural variety.
What is the best semi moist dog food?
Natural Balance Semi-Moist, LiveSmart Hearty Stew, Purina Moist and Meaty, Innova Evo Red Meat, Freshpet Vital Complete Meals
Is soft food better for older dogs?
As your dog gets older, his teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable for him. Switching to a soft food will help to alleviate his oral discomfort when eating. Whether you choose dry food, soft food, or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition.