Today's dog and cat foods are often served up kibble-style, which often uses extreme heat and pressure to pack pet food into hard round pellets. And while this kind of food can be packed with nutrients, it lacks moisture and the many benefits associated with ensuring your pet companions are well-hydrated.
As you may know, water intake is essential for your pet's digestive system, weight goals, and the overall health of vital organs like their kidneys and livers.
And despite water being great for our feline and canine friends, we know that it can be challenging to motivate them to drink it.
Recommended Reading: 7 Facts About Water and Your Dog
So what can a responsible pet owner do? Let’s learn more about adding water and including high-moisture foods in your pet’s diet.
4 Reasons to Add Water to Your Pet's Food
If you are going to feed your dog or cat dry kibble food, adding water can help increase water consumption and improve their overall health as is illustrated below:
1. Increases Your Cat or Dog's Hydration
Dehydration is a common problem for dogs and especially cats. In fact, many pets don’t drink enough to properly compensate for their dry food diets and as a result, suffer from chronic, low-grade dehydration.
Hydration is the ticket to the rest of the benefits in this section as it’s the starting place to ensure your animal can process its food, maintain a healthy weight/metabolism, and avoid the health risks associated with dehydration.
Combating dehydration is important, especially if you have a pet that rarely drinks water. Soaking kibble in clean water increases the likelihood that they will get enough water in their day-to-day diet. However, there are other food options that contain more moisture from the get-go.
When rehydrated, dehydrated pet foods are incredibly high in moisture since you add water when preparing the food. Wet foods are also typically high in moisture, as the name suggests.
2. Can Help With Weight-Loss Goals for Your Pet
The water you add to the dog or cat food will help create that “full” feeling in your pet’s belly. The moisture fills the stomach, encouraging less overeating and the consumption of fewer overall calories. This can be especially effective in successfully executing a weight loss plan for your dog or for your cat.
Additionally, your dog or cat might be bloated due to their diet. When dry dog food or cat food comes in contact with moisture, it swells. If this happens in the digestive tract, it can increase the risk of bloat or gastric torsion, causing dangerous swelling and bloating.
Allowing the kibble to soak before your pet eats the food reduces this risk and helps your pet stay at a healthy weight.
The added water also helps improve your pet’s regularity using the bathroom, which can lessen problems with constipation or water retention.
3. Can Prevent Urinary Tract Stones in Dogs and Cats
Adding water to dry food or switching to moisture-rich diets helps prevent chronic dehydration, making it beneficial for pets that are prone to urinary tract infections, blockages, and kidney problems by keeping the urinary system well flushed.
Especially true in cats, dry food can place more strain on the kidneys and cause the urine to be more concentrated, which can increase the risk of infections.
4. Increases Flavor of Food (Especially With Warm Water)
Another great reason to consider adding water to your pet's food is to make it more flavorful. Seriously.
Picky eaters might refuse to eat dry food, but adding warm water brings out the taste and the smells of the food, encouraging your pet to eat. For most mammals, our taste buds are able to sense and fully savor more of what we eat or drink the closer the temperature of the food is to our own body temperature.
Are There Any Downsides to Adding Water to Your Pet's Food?
In moderation, there are no serious downsides to adding water to their food.
Try adding a quarter-cup to a half-cup of water to start slow. Watch for loose stools and ensure that your pet has ample opportunity to visit the litter box or go outdoors to take care of their business.
Your pet will enjoy the added hydration and better-tasting food.
Cons of Feeding Dogs and Cats Only Dry Kibble
It’s possible for a dry food diet to provide the nutrients that your pet needs, but it doesn’t fit the bill for a high-moisture diet. Like the name suggests, dry food goes through a moisture-extraction process to create the compact, crunchy pellets you’re familiar with, so it will never be as moist or hydrating as dehydrated or wet food options.
Here are five key reasons why a diet of only dry kibble doesn’t keep your pet hydrated or healthy:
- Dry kibble often contains 10% moisture or less, which is nowhere near most pets’ water needs. Dogs, for example, require a diet of at least 70%.
- Dry kibble often requires pet owners to supplement with more water.
- Dry pellets can swell in the stomach, raising the risk level for pets who are prone to bloating or gastric torsion.
- The process of making conventional kibble usually means that a certain amount of carbohydrate or starch is required, to provide the “glue” that’s necessary for proper pellet form and shape. The presence of high quantities of refined carbohydrates in dry food diets has been linked with the increased incidence of pet obesity, diabetes, and stomach irritability.
- Unlike the common myth claims, kibble isn’t abrasive enough to really clean your pet’s teeth.
We know many pet owners like the convenience of kibble, and your pets may prefer the taste or texture. If you’re going to feed a dry diet, it’s best to choose a high-quality food that hasn’t been subjected to extreme heat and pressure, like conventional dry foods.
Our Whole Food Clusters for dogs and for cats are great examples of high-quality dry food. We’ve created a proprietary process to avoid the extrusion process that traditional kibble goes through. Our clusters are made with gently dehydrated human grade ingredients that are cold pressed and roasted to preserve the nutrients.
Try Switching From Poor Quality Kibble to a Higher Moisture Diet
Adding water to your dry dog or cat food can go a long way to keeping your pet healthy. And if you’re interested in trying out other hydration-increasing foods, we’ve provided some alternative diet options that are considered more moisture-rich below:
Buy Dehydrated Pet Foods You Can Add Water To
Consider trying out dehydrated pet foods. The process of dehydration allows food to be preserved longer and to maintain its original nutritional value (especially the quality of the protein). You simply add water or broth to these foods to rehydrate them when it's time to feed your pet.
Recommended Reading: The Advantages of Dehydrated Pet Food
Feed Wet and Canned Foods (Also Great for Mixing With Dry Food)
Wet food and canned food naturally have their own moisture. You can feed this without the need to add water. Additionally, you can also mix it with dry food to make kibble more appealing and add variety to your pet's diet.
Give Your Pets a High-Moisture Diet With The Honest Kitchen
If you are ready to increase the moisture content of your dog or cat's diet, The Honest Kitchen can help.Choose from dehydrated foods for dogs, wet food for dogs, dehydrated food for cats, wet food for cats, and hydration supplements made from high-quality, human grade ingredients that are nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of your pets.
Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet’s veterinarian or other healthcare professionals for specific guidance on this topic.