4 of the Best Soft Dog Food Brands

Dakota says the process of choosing soft foods for your dog can take you down a rabbit hole of information, opinions, research articles, studies, and trends.  But, if you break it down, you can simplify your search for Soft Dog Food Brands.

In this article we will attempt to do just that and get Dakota’s opinions about each of the categories we find.

Do You Want The BEST Soft Dog Food Brand?


After a lot of research, we found that there are 4 main categories of soft dog food to choose from:

  • Canned
  • Freeze-dried
  • Dehydrated
  • Raw

Each of them have their own unique qualities that we’ll get into.  But, they all have one thing in common, to be the best of the best soft dog food brands,  you have to have the highest quality soft dog food ingredients.

Soft Dog Food Ingredients

The main thing to remember when it comes to picking the best from all of the soft dog food brands for your dog is ingredient analysis.

The ingredients, particularly the first few in any food, can indicate how nutritious that food is.

Products list ingredients in the order of the percentage they take up in the food. The first ingredient you want to see in any soft dog food is meat, or meat meal.

The rest of the ingredients should be healthy and holistic components you can recognize and pronounce.

Dogs need mostly meat in their diet, but they are not obligate carnivores. They are actually omnivores.

Therefore, it is healthy and beneficial for holistic, plant-based ingredients to exist in their food as well.

Dakota wants to remind readers that a few main ingredients to avoid are corn, wheat, soy, and by-products.

These not only have been linked to allergies in dogs, but contain no nutritional components that your dog can absorb.

Dog owners should strive to always provide a grain-free diet to their pups whenever possible, to avoid unnecessary fillers and risks of allergic reactions.

Tested Safe and Healthy Ingredients

The foods we discuss below are all compliant with the AAFCO nutrient profiles.  Therefore, they are tested and approved to be nutritionally beneficial for canine consumption.

While ingredients are important, meat ratios and nutritional panels are important as well.

Please note: If your dog has a medical condition such as kidney dysfunction or diabetes, you must consult your vet for any and all dietary choices. Medical conditions may mean your dog cannot process foods the same way as other pups who don’t have any conditions.

Now, on to the major categories of soft food!

Dakota would like to provide a quick nutritional breakdown of each major type, so the reader can understand how to perform their own analysis on the soft dog food brands they will consider purchasing for their pups in the future.

Canned Soft Dog Foods

Pet Food Aisle

I, Jeffrey O. Gustafson [GFDL (CC-BY-SA-3.0), or CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Canned foods can be a good supplement to your dog’s diet.

Because of preservatives, numerous ingredients, and lack of freshness, we don’t recommend that canned food comprise all of your dog’s diet.

Rather, it should supplement kibble (or whatever main source of food you are giving).*

Other main food sources can include dehydrated, freeze-dried, or raw options (outlined later in this article).

The first kind of soft dog food brands we’ll look at is canned, using AvoDerm Grain Free canned food as our example.

AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Beef & Potato Stew

AvoDerm is a brand that prides itself on its use of avocado and other top-notch ingredients in its food, which allows the brand to cater to dogs with food sensitivities and skin issues.

Avocados are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the skin and coat.

Today we’ll take a look at AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Beef & Potato Stew recipe.  The primary ingredient in this soft food is beef broth, followed by beef.

This means that this dog food is mostly meat, which is excellent.

Meat has the nutrition, protein and fiber which are essential for good dog health.

Your dog will absorb the nutrients from meat-based foods, rather than discard the bulk of it (as with grain-based foods).

Typically you would want to see meat first, followed by meat broth. But having more broth can be beneficial to dogs to cannot necessarily handle a rich diet (for example, those recovering from a stomach issue or those with naturally sensitive digestive tracts).

Subsequent ingredients are beef liver (highly nutritious), peas (high in carbs, fiber, and protein), potatoes (a digestible and gluten-free filler), carrots (rich in nutrients), and eggs (highly digestible protein).

After this, the ingredients come in small percentages which many consider negligible unless allergies exist.

Because AvoDerm Grain Free is a meat-based food with high percentages of meats listed as its main source of protein, many consider this a top quality canned dog food.

It also has plant-based ingredients, which is a big plus.

They also offer a variety of other canned options, including chicken, lamb, salmon, and even vegetarian (likely for dogs with significant allergies).

Dachshund – Monopoly!!

By nao-cha from Tokyo, Japan (cocoa #7) [CC CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Soft Dog Food Options

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated are two main groups soft dog foods that have had the water removed.   The difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated is:

  • Freeze-dried food starts off fresh or cooked, then gets frozen and has its water removed. It can usually be reconstituted with water.
  • Dehydration is the process of removing water by using heat and moving air.

Both foods are dry with a long shelf life.  They do not require refrigeration unless reconstituted.

And, their ingredient lists are often simple, short, and holistic.  This is because they are mostly fresh foods.

Their nutrition is superior to that of kibble, as kibble contains many processed ingredients and fillers.

So, these options may be your dog’s main food source.  As opposed to canned food, which is to be used only in addition to a main food source.

For analysis, we will look at one popular brand for each: Stella and Chewy’s for freeze-dried, and Honest Kitchen for dehydrated.

Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food Simply Venison

Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried food is a fantastic option.

It comes light-weight. When you reconstitute it with water, it becomes easy to mash up and mix with kibble or canned food.

It is nutritionally dense, so it is not a problem to use as a stand-alone food as well.

Stella and Chewy’s offers numerous flavors; today we’ll do some analysis on the venison option.

Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food Simply Venison’s meat sources are all grass-fed, which is a huge plus.

This food is made with mostly venison; the first ingredient is venison meat, followed by venison kidney, lung, and bone.

Venison is rich in all 10 essential amino acids required by dogs to thrive.

After that comes a lengthy list of fruit and vegetable components (for example, cranberries, blueberries, and broccoli). It even contains the unusual ingredient pumpkin seeds, which are rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

This food even includes Lactobacillus acidophilus and other fermentation products, which are amazing for digestion.

This brand has the distinction among freeze-dried options of technically being considered a raw food due to its ingredients and freshness.

This is an excellent means of giving your dog the benefits of raw without having to worry about thawing or spoiling.

Its lightweight and dry nature also make it very easy to transport, so you can travel and still be able to give your dog healthy food on the go.

Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Cage Free Turkey Dog Food

Like Stella and Chewy’s, Honest Kitchen makes it’s soft dog food with ingredients that humans eat.

You can eat this food yourself and not feel one bit weird about it!

While Stella and Chewy’s is a little more on the firm side in texture, Honest Kitchen is ground down pretty finely; the result is a more pasty texture, which makes it easy to combine with other foods.

Today we’ll analyze their Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Cage Free Turkey Dog Food option.  The main ingredient is turkey, so we’re off to a good start.

After that comes flaxseed (discussed above), followed by the previously discussed (and nutritionally beneficial) potato, celery, spinach (extremely high vitamin and mineral content), carrots, and among others, coconut.

Coconut deserves a special mention, as it is high in medium chain fatty acids. It is a superfood not only for humans, but for cats and dogs as well.

Honest Kitchen has the exceptional qualification of being labeled as “human grade”.  This gives it superior quality.

Other flavor options include chicken, beef, fish, and duck.

Ten pounds of dried food yields Forty pounds of wet food. Packages come in a variety of sizes.

Raw Soft Dog Foods

Dinner for One

“Dinner for One” by Georgie Pauwels, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Raw dog food can be a controversial topic and highly subjective decision.  There are a lot of dog owners and professionals who are recommending it.

It is definitely increasing in popularity, and therefore is becoming more widely available across different soft dog food brands as each year goes by.

If you are considering putting your dog on a fully raw or partially raw diet, many highly recommend that you buy commercially produced options (which come frozen) as opposed to trying to make your own.

The commercial options comply with the AAFCO nutritional standards, and are therefore more likely to provide balanced nutrition to your dog than a homemade recipe can.

That being said, here is a breakdown of one of the most popular raw brands, Nature’s Variety.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef and Lamb Formula

Nature’s Variety is one of the most trusted brands of raw soft dog food. They put their products through rigorous quality standards testing, and have a great reputation among raw food enthusiasts.

They make their foods with 95% animal protein, 5% fruits and vegetables, and 0% grains and fillers.

Today we’ll study their Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef and Lamb Formula option.  All of the ingredients listed are natural, holistic, nutritious, and easy to identify.

This is mostly made of meat, meat organs, and bones (excellent source of calcium), followed by fruits, vegetables, and supplements.

Some components you might have questions about:

Montmorillonite clay is a natural source of many trace minerals. It is approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products. It binds toxins and controls diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Cod liver oil and salmon oil are fish oils which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

Chicory root is rich in inulin, a prebiotic that can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Other protein options include chicken, turkey, rabbit, lamb, duck, and a chicken & tuna combination.

This is one of the highest quality soft dog food brands you can get. If you are nervous about putting your dog strictly on raw, or you find it too expensive, you can always just supplement with raw.

Wrap-up for Soft Dog Food Brands

As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from when selecting a soft food for your pooch!

Dakota says don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

It can be fun!

Feel free to play around with your choices, and see which ones your dog likes and responds to the best.

But remember, dogs can have sensitive digestive tracts. We don’t recommend making drastic changes quickly. It is the best practice to introduce new foods little by little into your dog’s diet.

Do You Want The BEST Soft Dog Food Brand?


The good news is that no matter what your dog’s tastes or restrictions, there is a food out there for you.

We have showcased some of the top choices across the platform of soft food categories, so that you can start your quest for the best Soft Food Dog Brands with some of the best and safest options available.

Bon appétit!

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