Complete or complementary pet food? What is the difference?

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Complete or complementary pet food? What is the difference?
Jun 11
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Complete or complementary?

What is the difference?

There are many things for our customers to consider when choosing the right food for their pets. Maybe your dog has allergies, or your cat really isn’t taking to salmon – there’s also the debate about raw food vs dry food, and whether your pet needs wet food, too.


Another thing to consider when choosing pet food is complete vs complementary. So what is the difference?

Complete foods

In order to be legally labeled as ‘complete’, pet food must contain all nutrients required for your pet in sufficient amounts to keep him or her healthy.

Complete foods can be dry foods, wet foods, or raw. They can be fed for long periods of time on their own which makes them by far the most popular choice for pet parents.

Complementary foods

Generally, complementary foods are wet or raw foods that don’t have all of the required nutrients that your pet needs, which means you will have to supplement their diet with something else. Toppers are a good example of complementary foods, which are often added to complete foods to increase palatability. Treats also fall into the complementary category.

Complementary foods definitely have a place in your pet's diet, whether it’s simply treats, or using wet foods to up your cat’s liquids if she’s prone to not drinking enough water – these foods can be a great option.

It’s really important that you check the packaging of your pet’s food to see if it is complete or complementary, to ensure that he or she is getting all of the nutrients required to live a healthy and happy life. We’d usually recommend feeding a complete food and supplementing it with complementary food as and when.

Some of our favourite complete foods:

Ziwi Peak



Billy & Margot


Some of our popular complementary foods:

Some Applaws wet foods: Click here

Wag Treats