Q: We have 2 young cats and one middle-age dog. We feed them a strictly grain-free wet food diet. We’re looking for ways to reduce our household costs and one thought was to do dry food half of the time for all our pets. But, I worry that this may not be safe. Is there a safe middle ground or is it not worth it?
Dr. Frank: In my opinion, there is a short answer and a slightly longer answer to this question. The short answer in general is, yes (with caveats) there is a safe middle ground for your dog, and no, it is usually not worth it for your cats.
The longer answer is:
For your middle-age dog, doing a mixture of wet and dry food can be a safe cost-cutting measure as long as the dry is a very high-quality low or grain-free dry food.
On the other hand, for your two cats the benefits of keeping them on a good quality wet food diet far outweigh the higher cost. Because cats don’t instinctively drink much water on their own, they need a wet, raw or re-hydrated diet to get the optimum amount of water for their bodies to be their best.
However, the primary reason I recommend keeping your cats on all wet food is that vets have found a high percentage of cats on dry food who develop medical issues compared to cats on strictly wet food diets. This of course means that cats on dry food frequently have much higher medical expenses over their lifetime than cats on a wet food diet.
The cost savings you get from adding dry food to your cats’ diets may well be lost in additional medical expenses in years to come.