5 Best Low-Fat Canned Dog Foods — 2023 Reviews & Top Picks
By Brooke Bundy
Canned food may appeal to picky eaters, but most wet food contains more fat than dry food. Older canines need a recipe that’s lower in calories and fat than they did as young pups. Certain medical conditions such as pancreatitis may also necessitate a low-fat food, even if your dog hasn’t reached their seniority status. Not many canned formulas are considered low fat, but thankfully, there are a few. You’ll have more options if your veterinarian is on board because a handful of options require a prescription. Here are our top five favorites.
A Quick Look at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Hill's Science Adult Diet Sensitive||
|Best Value||Merrick Grain-Free Cowboy Cookout||
|Premium Choice||Hill's Prescription i/d Digestive Care||
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN||
|Hill's Prescription i/d Digestive Pate||
The 5 Best Low-Fat Canned Dog Foods
1. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food – Overall Best Choice
|Main ingredients:||Chicken broth, chicken, turkey giblets, green beans, carrots|
|Protein content:||5% min|
|Fat content:||3% min|
We like how the first three ingredients are all meat-based ingredients instead of water or meat-by products. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Vegetable Entree Canned Dog Food is the best overall low-fat canned dog food due to its versatility and price. It’s the perfect choice for any dog who needs a low-fat food as it’s available on Chewy for cheaper than prescription diets. Since this recipe doesn’t require a prescription for purchase, it’s easier to source, although you should still consult your veterinarian when altering your dog’s diet.
Although it contains 0.5% more fat than what’s considered a low-fat wet dog food, we feel like it’s so close that it fits the bill with its higher quality ingredients and lower price. We just miss the prebiotic fibers that the veterinary diets included to boost your pet’s digestion.
- Free from by-products
- Available on Chewy without a prescription
- With Omega fatty acids and Vitamin E
- Contains slightly more fat than prescription low-fat diets
- No prebiotics
2. Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Deboned beef, beef broth, chicken broth, beef liver, carrots|
|Protein content:||8% min|
|Fat content:||3% min|
When we were rounding up low fat foods, we found that Merrick Grain-free Wet Dog Food Cowboy Cookout is the best low-fat canned dog food for the money, with high-quality ingredients for the lowest price. There’s no prescription required, so you can easily add a case to your next Chewy order without a vet’s note, although we recommend collaborating with your vet to choose the most appropriate food for your pet.
We like how deboned beef is the first ingredient, as opposed to water or a meat by-product. This recipe doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or by-products, which is one of the reasons it’s one of our favorites.
Although wet food technically needs to have a fat content lower than 2.5% to qualify as a low-fat option, this recipe cuts pretty close at 3% which is still considerably less than the standard 5-6% found in most wet food cans. We would prefer that this diet have slightly less fat and include some beneficial whole grains instead of going grain-free. A 2019 FDA investigation1 suggests that grain-free diets may be linked to heart disease in dogs, but it’s still unclear whether it’s caused by the pea proteins that are prevalent in grain-free diets, or the taurine deficiency that sometimes results from the lack of grain.
- Deboned beef is the first ingredient
- Free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or by-products
- Available on Chewy, no prescription required
- Most affordable choice
- Contains slightly more fat than some low-fat foods
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care Dog Food – Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Water, pork liver, rice, carrots, chicken|
|Protein content:||5% min|
|Fat content:||1% min|
Our premium choice features a scant 1% fat content, which is daringly close to fat-free. This Digestive Care Wet Dog Food requires a prescription from a veterinarian and is a little more expensive than the other products on our list.
The prebiotic fibers promote healthy digestion by assisting in probiotic production, which leads to a healthy gut. Probiotics feed the gut-brain connection that’s so crucial to be considered at every age, but especially as your pet ages and may be losing some of their cognitive ability.
That being said, we’re surprised at some of the ingredients listed in a premium prescription diet. This food actually includes sugar, which is harmful for dogs. It also contains loads of preservatives, which is common in cheap canned food, but we expected better in a prescription diet. Strangely enough, ground pecan shells are included as a source of fiber, but we don’t like this idea since pecans are considered toxic to dogs. We would rather swap the pecan shells for some hearty oats or brown rice that could serve as a safe source of fiber.
- Prebiotic fibers help your dog have a healthy gut
- Extremely low in fat
- Made with highly-digestible protein
- Includes sugar and artificial preservatives
- Ground pecan shells are added for fiber
4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Water, meat by-products, rice, barley, soy protein isolate|
|Protein content:||9% min|
|Fat content:||3% min|
At first, we weren’t too impressed with Purina Pro Plan’s prescription diet because water and meat by-products are at the top of the list, which aren’t necessarily nutritious at least and somewhat questionable. Meat by-products can legally contain any animal considered feed-grade, and it can use any part of the animal that’s not fit for human consumption. However, further down the ingredients list we see some beneficial ingredients such as salmon, which is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and prebiotics, which help promote a healthy gut. We also like how this recipe features an incredibly low amount of fat, so we still consider this formula to be one of our best choices for our purposes.
Another questionable component worth mentioning is that glycerin is noted in the ingredients list. Glycerin is a by-product from biofuels and soap making. Although there isn’t substantial data to prove this is a harmful additive, it has somewhat sketchy origins and we feel like this food would be better without it.
- Salmon provides omega 3s
- Contains prebiotics
- Low fat
- Contains glycerin
- Water and meat by-products are the first two ingredients
5. Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care Original Flavour Wet Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Water, rice, pork liver, turkey giblets, pork by-products|
|Protein content:||5% min|
|Fat content:||7% min|
This prescription recipe is very similar to our premium choice, but it’s a little cheaper and comes in a different flavor. The pork and turkey flavor tantalizes your dog without the extra fat content found in most canned dog foods. It has only 1.7% fat, which is considered pretty low but isn’t the lowest of the foods we reviewed.
We appreciate the blend of vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics because they provide your dog with well-rounded nutrition to support their overall health. We’re not too keen on the pork by-products or ground pecan shells, however. Although a by-product with a named meat is better than a “meat by-product” that doesn’t mention its source, we don’t prefer any by-products in our dog’s food because they’re the rejected animal parts not suited for human consumption. Pecans are actually considered to be toxic to dogs, but the shells are sometimes added to dog food as a source of fiber. We would’ve liked to see them swapped for more nutritious brown rice or oatmeal instead.
- Delicious pork and turkey flavor delights dogs
- Only 1.7% fat
- Features a diverse range of vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics
- Contains pork by-products
- Ground pecan shells are a cheap (and potentially toxic) source of fiber
Buyer’s Guide — Choosing the Best Low-Fat Canned Dog Food
Your dog’s canned food must have 2.5% fat or less in order to be considered low fat. Average wet dog food has 5-6% fat, but that doesn’t mean it has less than dry food, which typically hovers closer to 15-20%. In fact, wet food is typically higher in fat than dry food. This is because the fat content in wet food is calculated differently than dry food. A dry kibble is still considered low fat with a content up to 10%, or if no more than 17% of calories come from fat.
All of our top picks are available on Chewy, but depending on the formula you choose, you may need to obtain a vet’s note in order to purchase. You should always consult your vet before changing your dog’s diet to make sure they’re still receiving the nutrition they need to thrive.
Typically, you’ll need to obtain a prescription from your vet if you want a bona fide “low-fat food.” However, our best overall choice hovers close enough to the threshold to qualify, while not requiring a prescription or as much money as veterinary diets. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Vegetable Entree Canned Dog Food is our overall best choice because it’s a high-quality dog food that’ll suit any canine who needs a low-fat diet. Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food Cowboy Cookout serves up a hearty bowl of deboned beef and vegetables that’s free from artificial colors, flavors, by-products, or preservatives—all while earning its status as our best value choice for being the cheapest option.
If you’re open to spending a little more money and asking your vet for a prescription, Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Digestive Care Low Fat Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew Wet Dog Food is the option that’s the closest to fat-free. It’s always a good idea to ask your veterinarian for their advice when you change your dog’s food, regardless of whether the formula requires a prescription, in order to ensure the best care for your canine companion.
Featured Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels