Tried fresh, human-grade food for your dog yet? 60% Off First Order at Ollie. Redeem Offer

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in 2024

Written by

Elaine Navajo

Reviewed by

Updated on:

Some articles include affiliate links, and we may receive compensation when you make a purchase through these links.
Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 1

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, indicating a quality dog food that many dog owners find appealing. They are normally a big favorite with dogs, showing that sometimes the best food for pet parents to consider is the one that their pets naturally love.

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.

What Is Semi-Moist Dog Food?

Semi-moist dog food, sometimes referred to as semi-dried dog food, falls between the familiar dry kibble and canned wet food.

Unlike traditional dry kibble with its crunchy texture, semi-moist food has a softer consistency. It’s recognizable by sight, often resembling small chewy nuggets or pellets.

OUR TOP PICKS

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 3
  • Semi-moist dog food roll
  • Calorie-dense for active dogs
  • More convenient than raw diet
VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →
Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 5
  • Recipes are based on whole, natural ingredients
  • Four recipes to choose from
  • 50% OFF first order
VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →
Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 3
  • Can be serve as a meal or a topper
  • Flavorful, tender, and easy-to-serve
  • Fussy eaters love its taste
VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →

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.

Get 60% off your first order

 

Top Rated Semi-moist Dog Foods

1. The Farmer's Dog Fresh Pet Food

First 5 ingredients: Depends on the recipe you choose

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 8

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.

The company has four recipes of cooked food delivered frozen to your house:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Turkey

To preserve freshness, the meals are delivered the same week that they’re prepared in the company’s kitchens. As part of the sign-up process, you’ll create a personalized profile about your dog/s. 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.

Pros

Can improve your dog’s health

Food is shipped fresh and frozen

Pre-portioned and packaged conveniently

Gently cooked at low temperatures

Tailored to your dog’s specific needs

Made with high-quality, natural ingredients

Cons

May not be available in all areas

More expensive than most commercial dog foods


2. Redbarn Naturals Beef Recipe Dog Food Roll

First 5 ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Lung, Whole Wheat Flour, Sucrose

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 9

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 way 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.

Pros

Made with grass-fed, free-range beef

Contains over 50% protein per roll

Easy to store, slice, and serve

Manufactured in FDA-certified facilities

Can be used as a complete meal, a mixer or a treat

Rich in essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals

Cons

Contains wheat flour and sucrose

May not be widely available


3. Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor

First 5 ingredients: Beef By-Product, Soy Flour, Soy Grits, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 10

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.

Chewy Online Dog Supplies


30% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

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.

Pros

Boasts a burger-like flavor

Has a moist and tender texture

Comes in no-mess pouches

Made with real beef and cheddar cheese flavor

Provides 100% complete and balanced nutrition

Is packaged in individual, pre-portioned pouches

Cons

High carbohydrate content

Contains soy flour, corn syrup and added colors


4. Purina Pro Plan High Protein Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Poultry By-product Meal, Soybean Meal

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 11

If you’re interested in a dry dog food with semi-moist pieces, the Purina ProPlan Savor (previous name) 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.

Pros

Made with real chicken

Features chewy, shredded pieces

Contains guaranteed live probiotics

Fortified with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Rich in omega fatty acids and Vitamin A

Cons

Contains soybean meal and soybean oil

Has corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat and wheat bran


5. Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Corn, Brown Rice, Oat Groats

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 12

Authority Tender Blends Chicken & Rice Formula is a dry dog food that combines soft bitescrunchy kibbles, and garden vegetables. It’s made with real deboned chicken, ensuring a high-quality source of protein for your furry friend.

Beyond chicken, this formula includes an antioxidant blend of seleniumzinc, and vitamin E to boost the immune system. Prebiotics and natural fiber promote gut health and aid in nutrient absorption. Additionally, omega fatty acids contribute to healthy skin and coat.

The crunchy kibbles in this blend are enhanced with Authority’s Ora-Shield, which provides an abrasive texture to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

Reviews suggest that dogs of all ages enjoy the mix of soft morsels, crunchy kibbles, and veggies in Authority Tender Blends. Even pups who typically dislike dry food have been won over by this recipe!

Pros

Made with real chicken

Rich in fiber and antioxidants

A grain-inclusive formula

With tender meaty bits and garden veggies

Filled with brown rice, oat groats, and dried beet pulp

Cons

Has corn gluten meal

Not widely available


6. Purina Beneful Simple Goodness With Farm-Raised Beef

First 5 ingredients: Beef, Malted Barley Extract, Soy Flour, Soy Grits, Water

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 13

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 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.

Pros

Made with real farm-raised beef

Filled with sweet potatoes, peas and carrots

Features soft, tasty and meaty morsels

Comes in convenient, stay fresh pouches

Zero by-product meals or artificial flavoring

Cons

Has fillers

Tummy upset noted


7. Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables

First 5 ingredients: Beef, Ground Wheat, Meat and Bone Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 14

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, this recipe 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.

Pros

Appealing and highly palatable

Made with 26 carefully chosen nutrients

Especially crafted for small breed dogs

Comes in a convenient, re-sealable bag

Features a unique “H” kibble for better dental health

Cons

Picky eaters may not like it

Bag became smaller for around the same price


8. Pedigree Tender Bites Complete Nutrition Chicken & Steak Flavor

First 5 ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat, Soybean Meal

Choosing A Semi-Moist Dog Food: Know Which Brands are Best in [year] 15

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.

Chewy Online Dog Supplies


30% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

Pedigree Tender Bites 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.

Pros

Locally made (USA)

Features easy to chew morsels

Crafted specifically for small dogs

Zero artificial flavors and fillers

Rich in Omegas for better fur and skin health

Cons

Kibbles too hard

First ingredient is not real meat


Get 60% off your first order

 

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.

Semi-moist dog food

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.

Chewy Online Dog Supplies


30% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

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.

Pros

  • 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: These kind of 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.

Cons

  • 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.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Scroll to Top