Should I Add Water to My Dog’s Food?

A longtime marketing angle of dry kibble was that it helps clean teeth. However if you ever watch your dog (especially a Lab!) scarf down their food you know that your dog is not chewing those kibble much, if at all. (It is for this reason we recommend meaty bones a couple times a week to clean those teeth).

So if that’s the only reason you have never moistened your dog’s food – don’t let that myth stop you. The truth is, adding water to your dog’s food has many benefits!

Dogs need moisture to properly digest their food

Dog’s bodies are designed to eat fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, etc., which all have fairly high moisture content, as high as 70-90%. Dry kibble is only 10% moisture. When your dog eats kibble, their body has to steal moisture from its own tissues to help with digestion. This is why many dogs drink a lot of water after eating. However, at that point, the kibble is already in your dog’s stomach and so the added water will make it expand, causing discomfort. Drinking excessively after a meal may be a cause of bloat as well and causes stress to the organs.

But kibble is convenient and less expensive than canned food. It also has more nutrients than many canned foods, because of the differences in processing.

So, instead of switching to canned food – just add water!

Putting water on your dog’s food…

Can help a senior dog eat their food easier.

Can entice a dog who maybe a picky eater or has lost their appetite due to illnesses. Adding water releases the aroma (especially if you use a bit of warm water) enticing the dog to eat.

Can help prevent Urinary Tract Infections by ensuring your dog is getting enough water.

Can help make sure your dog is getting enough water in hot or cold weather, when they need more but may not be drinking enough on their own.

Makes it easy to turn it into a treat by freezing the water and kibble mixture into a food toy. Especially great in hot weather.

How to add water to your dog’s food

When you are adding water to your dog’s food, make sure it’s not too cold (also not pleasant for your dog and can cause stomach discomfort) or too hot. Lukewarm water is best. Add equal part water (or a bit more for dogs that are prone to urinary/dehydration issues) and soak for 10-15 minutes. Now it’s ready to feed in a dish or freeze in your dog’s food toy.

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  1. I’ve heard recently that giving dogs raw chicken necks and wings is not ideal.

    Can you give me some examples of raw meaty bones which I can feed my dog please. He is a Jack Russell, 13 years old.

    1. Hi Irene, there are pros and cons to feeding raw meaty bones. A bone getting stuck or salmonella poisoning are 2 that i can think of as cons. These have never happened to my dogs so i am not sure of the chances of it happening. To answer your question if you dont want to give chicken wings or necks i think Lamb is quite safe. So Lamb brisket, ribs, flaps are fine for a small dog. Lamb necks and Shanks are good for a big dog.

  2. I have a Staffy X terrier. I always buy him fresh meat and cook it with pasta or rice. Is it best to feed him raw or cooked meat. ??

  3. Good point on water. My male Kelpie gutses the kibble down in around 5 seconds and doesn,t even try to chew it. Does have the meaty bones though.

    1. Hi Peter, I know this is a common belief among raw feeders. However, originally humans were not “designed” to eat cooked food either. But it was this process that helped us get more nutrients from less food. Which helped our brains to grow, and turned us into what we are today. Cooking helps break up proteins, starches, fibers so its easier to digest. Same goes for dogs… “originally” before domestication they never ate cooked food. Now genetic tests have shown they have adapted and changed their DNA to be able to digest more carbohydrates than their ancestors. They have also many adaptions found relating to socialising with humans and intelligence. Plus, I’m sure there are many more adaptions in their DNA that scientists haven’t found yet. Hope that makes sense to everyone.

  4. My chi has chronic gum disease and had some teeth taken out. So I crush his kibble by using mortar & pestle, do I still need to add water ? Cannot give him raw bones because he has not got enough teeth to chew it.

    My other dog is a kelpie x staffy and he chews his dry kibble because I can hear the crunching but finishes his bowl (qty according to his weight which is 22kgs) of kibble in a minute, do I still need to add water. Also when I give him raw bone he’ll chew it and buries it and continues to eat it later or next day, is this healthy if the bone is full of dirt?

    Sorry if my questions sound stupid

    1. Hi Josie, the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. So for your dog with gum disease you could add hot water and let cool, that will soften the kibble. For your Kelpie x Staffie it isn’t necessary but you can if you like, or if you notice your dog isn’t drinking enough. That is fine if your dog eats the bones with dirt on it. I believe it could be healthier because of all the extra environmental microbes the bone has picked up.

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