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Adding Water To Dry Dog Food (Pros, Cons & How To Add Water)

If the crunch of dry dog kibble makes you cringe and you want your dog to hydrate while he chomps down his food, your heart’s in the right place. But before you add water to dry dog food, you want to be sure that doing so is safe and helpful.

Adding water to dry dog food makes it easier to digest and more appetizing if you have a fussy eater or a dog with general appetite loss due to illness or recovery. It also helps dogs with poor dental health, is excellent for hydration, slows down a fast eater, and helps a hungry dog feel fuller.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about adding water to kibble, including when you should add it and when you should hold it off, and how to add it. You will also learn the pros and cons of moistening dry dog food. Let’s get started!

Adding Water To Dry Dog Food. A dog eating dry food with water.
My dog Willow enjoying her dry food with added water

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Should You Add Water To Dry Dog Food?

Adding water to your dog’s dry food is a decision many owners take. Some do this without consulting their vet, whereas some vets advise it. Since there is no universal answer to whether adding water will be good for a dog, owners should learn about the pros and cons of adding water to dry dog food.

You should add water to kibble if your dog finds it extremely hard to chew. It is also a good idea to moisten kibble with no aroma. But keep in mind that dogs’ sense of smell is much stronger than that of humans. Some kibble might seem like it has no scent but might be very appetizing to a dog.

Also, try different brands as some kibble has a hard and crunchy consistency, whereas others will crumble. You might find that your dog is happy to eat a more crumbly type but be picky with harder kibble.

That’s why the final ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ question begs your dog’s input. If your dog loves his food dry and enjoys the texture and crunch, you might as well let him have it dry.

So the test of whether to wet kibble or not is pretty simple:

  • Open a bag of dry dog food. 
  • If it has an aroma that pleases your dog, you might not need to add water.
  • If it doesn’t have an aroma, present it to your dog and see how he reacts.
  • Experiment with different brands to find the right texture.

There are a few cases where you should avoid adding water to dry dog food. The obvious of these is that your dog hates moist kibble but loves dry dog food. But in my experience, this can also happen when owners pour too much water into their dog’s food bowl.

“My dog enjoys water added to her dry food a few times a week.”

World of Dogz

Before you dismiss the idea of adding water to dry dog food, check out the advantages you might miss in the section below.

Why Add Water To Dry Dog Food

You should add water to your dog’s dry food if he finds the dry kibble unappealing. If the food is too hard, moistening it can also help improve digestion. But make sure that you don’t add too much water as the dog will reject a sloppy kibble soup.

Pros of Adding Water to Dry Dog Food

Palatability

The moisture enhances the flavor and texture of the dog food, making it more palatable, but not for long. Think about breakfast cereal and milk. The principle of ‘short-term’ enhancement of flavor and aroma applies just the same.

Aids Digestion

Ease of digestion remains the main benefit of adding water to kibble. Elderly and young dogs might need moistened kibble (especially weaning puppies), while young adults can easily digest dry dog food.

Dogs with sensitive stomachs can digest wet food easier, so adding water to dry dog food can help with intestinal motility.

Assists Dogs With Oral Health Problems

Dogs with dental health problems may find it hard to chew dry food, so adding moisture makes it easier and less painful for them to consume. Tooth and gum conditions such as inflamed gums or loose teeth can be pretty common, especially in small breeds and senior dogs.

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Helps Hydration

Adding water to a dog’s solid diet can remain relevant at every stage of its life because it can be a trojan horse for hydrating. Dogs that don’t consciously intake the amount of water they need can become lethargic. Soaking kibble before feeding can help them hydrate, especially in warm climates.

Prevents Gulping

Many dogs will gobble kibble so fast that sometimes unchewed pieces end up in the stomach. Because kibble doesn’t break down efficiently, it requires additional moisture, which your dog’s body typically provides by drawing from the surrounding tissues and blood supply. Adding water to dry dog food will somewhat slow your dog’s eating speed and prevent gulping.

Speed eating, particularly in large breeds, can cause the life-threatening condition Gastric-Volvulus GDV, also known as bloat. A study of non-dietary risk factors for GDV in large breeds found that faster-eating dogs were at greater risk.

Aids Weight Loss

If your dog is overweight and needs to lose a pound or two, adding water to kibble increases the volume of the food helping your dog feel more satisfied – without the extra calories.

As kibble is very nutrient-dense, the amount of food given according to the dog’s weight might not fill them up. Adding water expands the food in the bowl and certainly increases satiety, preventing your doggo from hunting around the kitchen for more food after a meal.

Option of Freeze-dried Food For Added Nutrition

A little-known advantage of adding water to dry dog food offsets a drawback of dry kibble. Dog food can be freeze-dried which preserves as many nutrients as possible.

This can have a dehydrating effect. A diet consisting only of dry food can affect dogs’ kidneys. Using water to rehydrate freeze-dried dog food helps neutralize the water burden created by dry dog food (to an extent), although some owners do not rehydrate freeze-dried.

Should I Add Water To My Dog's Dry Food? A Dog eating a bowl of kibble with water added to it.
Willow eating dry food with added warm water

To sum it up, here are the 7 reasons to add water to your dog’s dry food:

  1. It makes the food easier to digest – your dog will digest wet kibble better.
  2. It helps dogs with oral health problems chew their food. 
  3. It can make the food more appealing – good for picky eaters or recuperating dogs.
  4. It can hydrate your dog – hydration is always helpful to mammals.
  5. It can help to slow down a fast eater and prevent bloat (GDV), to which large breeds are prone.
  6. It can help with weight loss as it helps your dog to feel fuller.
  7. It can neutralize the diuretic effect of kibble – most dry dog food is dehydrating.

Cons of Adding Water To Dry Dog Food

Anyone who has a dog knows that things are far from simple. Whenever a per-support hack has an advantage, it also has multiple drawbacks. The below disadvantages might make you skeptical of adding water to dry dog food.

Your Dog Might Reject It 

Dogs can be picky eaters. And that doesn’t mean they eat whatever they can pick! If your dog dislikes wet kibble, you can try reducing the water ratio and serve it quicker. The longer kibble sits in water, the sloppier it gets. 

Additionally, dogs should eat the meal immediately as moistening the food creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria if left out for too long.

It Is Hard To Get the Proportions Right 

As mentioned earlier, dogs can reject wet kibble. But often, dogs reject kibble because of how wet it is. If you start by adding less water and serving the kibble quicker, your dog is more likely to accept it. You can slowly amp up the amount of water in the bowl if you like. 

It Is Slightly Inconvenient

Most dog owners know that what’s good for the owner is better for the dog. Your dog is your life-long companion, and if you find adding water to kibble too inconvenient, you might not do it consistently enough to yield any benefits.

From my perspective, the inconvenience is nominal, but I’d rather not impose that view on everyone. You can decide for yourself how practical moistening kibble is.

Learn More About Soaking Kibble With Water In This Video…

Soaking Puppy Kibble with Water: Questions Answered!

How To Make Dry Dog Food Wet

Making dry dog food wet requires the same steps as making anything wet; just add water. But to make it wet in an appetizing way for your dog, you have to get two things right. The first is the proportion of the water you add, and the second is the timing.

Here are the steps to make dry food softer:

  • Add kibble to your dog’s food bowl first – If you add water first, the kibble will turn into a soup.  
  • Fill a quarter of a regular cup with filtered water – You can measure this by just looking at the cup while erring on the side of less to find the right consistency for your dog.
  • Pour it evenly on top of the kibble – Make sure you don’t pour all the water in the center. Think more drizzle and less waterfall. 
  • Stir after 5 minutes – Gently stir the food after about 5 minutes. If the kibble remains dry, add some more water.
  • Serve it within 15 minutes – Let the kibble soak for 5-15 minutes, depending on if you added cold, room temperature, or hot water. Most dogs reject dry food that sits in the water longer than 15 minutes, but if your pet doesn’t, there is no harm in letting it sit even longer.

The below image shows my dog’s dry food mixed with cold water. If I had used warm water, the kibble would have become more of a “gravy” and quicker.

How To Add Water To Dry Dog Food. Bowls of kibble showing added water after 5 and 10 minutes.

Tips For Adding Water To Your Dog’s Dry Food

Now that you know how to add water to your dog’s dry food in a way that makes him want to eat it, let’s explore the tips that will help you hydrate your dog with solid food.

  • Use filtered water – The better the quality of water you add to the dog food, the more your dog stands to benefit. That doesn’t mean he needs to drink bottled water. It just needs to be appropriately filtered.  
  • Use warm water – Use warm filtered water or boiled water from a kettle or pan as long as it has considerably cooled down to a safe temperature. The warmer the water, the faster the dry food will soften.
  • Go with less – Avoid going overboard when you add water. 1/6th of a cup is a good start for picky dogs, while a quarter of a cup is enough for non-picky ones. 
  • Gradually increase the water content – If your dog doesn’t drink enough water throughout the day, you might want to raise the water content in his food bowl. Don’t go beyond half of a cup. If your dog needs more water in his diet, you should switch to wet dog food.
  • Water always goes on top – Don’t pour dry kibble into a bowl full of water. Your dog can simply chomp dry dog food from the top and leave the wet food behind. The idea is to get him to swallow wet soaked kibble.
  • Add kibble to wet dog food – Finally, you can mix canned dog food with kibble. This is a great way to finish up your kibble stockpile while switching to wet dog food. It is by no means a must-take step for dog owners who find kibble more convenient.
Adding Water To Kibble. A bowl of dry dog food and a quarter of a cup of water to add.
Start by adding a quarter of a cup of water to the kibble

Is Dry or Wet Kibble Better for Your Dog?

If your dog is not a picky eater, you have the option to serve him dry or wet kibble. In that case, you’ll want to know if wet kibble is superior to dry dog food.

Wet kibble is quicker to digest, but the average dog can also digest dry kibble (it just takes longer). If your dog is independently hydrated and laps up enough water, you don’t need to serve wet kibble.

FAQs On Adding Water To Dry Dog Food

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