Soaking Dry Dog Food in Water

The look and smell of dog kibble soaked in water seems disgusting to us, but our dogs see no problem with it at all. There are a couple of good reasons to add water to dry dog food. Here's when you should.


Sometimes, I soak my dogs’ dry food in warm water for 15 or 20 minutes before I feed them.

I do this for a couple of reasons. My older dog has had a few dental extractions, and doesn’t chew up his food as well as he used to – not that any dog grinds up much of the kibble he or she eats; unlike ours, canine teeth are not much for grinding. Mostly, a few of the kibbles get crunched, and more likely get swallowed intact. My younger dog is prone to eating way too fast – just bolting down all his food whole in less than a minute (unless I put it in a slow feeder or snuffle mat) – and I am guessing that it will put less of a strain on his digestive system if the food arrives even slightly pre-moistened.

And I know that feeding both of them soaked food makes them feel more full. Dry foods are so nutrient-dense, that the volume of the amount of food that is calorically appropriate for their weight might not come close to filling up their tummies. If their meal is full of water, it definitely increases satiety – that sensation of fullness. They quit walking around the kitchen looking unsatisfied after their meals when their food is soaked.

If you’ve ever soaked your dog’s food, you’re aware of how much dry dog food expands when immersed in water. It’s a little horrifying, actually, to realize how much more space a certain amount of food will require in a dog’s stomach and gut once the dog’s digestive juices hydrate the individual kibbles. It nearly doubles in volume. The kibbles are like little sponges – some more than others. I’ve noticed when soaking food for various foster puppies that some kibble is more resistant to soaking than others.

Neither of my dogs are reluctant or picky eaters, but adding water can definitely increase the palatability of dry food for some dogs.

However, one shouldn’t moisten food and leave it sitting out at room temperature for very long – I would start being concerned about bacterial growth in moistened food that had been left out at room temperature for more than an hour.

Many people believe that feeding soaked food will help prevent bloat. I’m not sure there’s ever been a study that looked at just that, but it would make sense to me. I’m super cautious about exercise for a couple of hours after feeding, too, for the same reason.

Out of curiosity: How many of you moisten or soak your dog’s dry food?


  1. We have always soaked dog kibble with broth or water. Because it expands so much, it makes much more sense to us to have it soaked prior to eating. It also ensures a healthy amount of fluid intake with each meal, and because it is softer tends to discourage those who bolt their food.

  2. Yes, have added water to my 60# Golden for several yrs, primarily to slow her down. Plus, canned food has higher moisture content and is supposed to be better than kibble, so easy to add water to kibble. I microwave her Pyrex glass bowl for 20 seconds prior to her feeding.

  3. My 14 yr old dog swallows his food whole in matter of seconds. Then proceeds to vomit it up. on the carpet usually. Since I have been soaking his food and feeding small amounts often he no longer has a problem. I keep moistened food in the fridge

  4. I was told that puppies will drink less water if kibble is moistened. Reportedly also food is easier on their digestive system and they will pee less and kidneys don’t have to work as hard. This can also help with house training .

  5. You bring up a good point… If the serving size is based on caloric and nutritional needs, and water makes food expand causing dog to eat less, can soaking kibble prevent a dog from getting its daily caloric and nutritional intake?

  6. This is potentially deadly advice. If your dog is susceptible to bloat, soaking their dry food could greatly increase the likelihood of a fatal twisting of their stomach, depending on the ingredients in their kibble.

    If they have problem digesting dry food, try canned food instead, don’t soak their dry food.

    • I disagree. Our Lab was inhaling / swallowing her dry kibble whole and breathing in a lot of air with it. She, then, was burping and occasionally vomiting. We tried multiple slow feeders which did not help. If we had allowed her to continue this behavior it would have progressed to bloat, which is often fatal. We began soaking her kibble, adding some canned pumpkin to it, or other safe “people” food, and then slowly feeding her by hand. Burping and vomiting has completely stopped. It’s a lot of work, but she’s worth it.

    • Hi everyone

      My name is Carlo, and I sadly lost my German Shepherd on Sunday night, her name was Abby and she was only 3 years old

      I feed her normally at 19:30pm and when she was done eating she was okay, and about 15 minutes 20 minutes later, Abby was up and down, she couldn’t sit or lay, I took her outside and she was eating grass, and started vomiting, but nothing was coming out, that’s when I rushed her to the vet

      They took an xray and her, and her stomach twisted, I was in great shock, because she was only 3years, and within hours I had to say goodbye to my Daughter… They had to put her down

      But I’m just commenting on this post, because since I have had Abby, I was always putting hot water in her dry food, and she was perfectly fine, she enjoyed it so much… So I’m not really sure if that was the case

      According to the vet, deep chest dogs like German Shepherds are prone to these horrible things…

  7. I have 1 year old Labrador mix with German Shepard. When we first got her we gave her dry food in one bowl and water in the other. Then she soon got use to having milk in her bowl with her food and water on the side. I think having the milk with her food is actually better and helps her digest it better rather than not having the milk in the bowl.

  8. Is that good for dogs to eat? I don’t know it well co’z I never try. Last time I feed my horse with the dog foods. lol . Yes, I tried it last time because my friend told me to do it because she gave Genuine Black Seed Oil supplement. So, I need a yummy foods to them to add a food supplement without taste of it.

  9. Great! I learn more here. I’m in a perfect timing to have this learning. So much informative that can help my problem. Last time I use Genuine Haarlem Product for my pets, specially for dogs. Thanks for sharing keep on posting more blogs here. God bless!!!

  10. We have a 5 month old puppy and soaked his pellets then left it out for 24 hours my bf fed it to him next night, he vomited it all up within 2 hours… Shame he never knew about bacteria growth in damp food🙄

  11. My dog eats so quickly I had to water his pellets down as he used to choke just a small schitzu but he vomits and sometimes whole biscuits have tried so many foods but hill gastro biomes has been good but still vomits every now and then but another lady mentioned smaller amount mor often sounds a great idea going to try that as watering down is best so no choking

  12. I have many GSDs and Belgian Malinois over the decades and currently have 5(3-GSDs 2-Malinois) ranging from 12yo to 2yo males and females. I always mix water or homemade broth with their kibble prior to feeding. Never had an issue and they prefer it that way vs just dry(which I have tried to test and observe). These breeds being deep chested are more at risk for bloat. I have never had an issue with bloat, but you never know nor can you control imo (and my numerous vets over the years). I have seen many articles how to control bloat and they contradict. Add water, Don’t add water and don’t let them drink water for an hour, raise bowl, don’t raise bowl, No exercise before or after for an hour (my dogs are working K9’s lots of energy and will run and play with each other before and after eating). Never had an issue. Point of this is they DO NOT KNOW how to prevent or lower risk of bloat, THEY ARE ONLY GUESSING. There is NOTHING CONCRETE. I agree with my Vets, no matter what you do if your dog gets bloat it will get bloat and nothing you can do about it. Some people will have their dogs stomach staples to prevent it twisting, which would prevent the twisting. I find that extreme, but will prevent it if you want to be 100% your dog will not get bloat.
    Let your dogs be dogs and enjoy them while you have them.

    • Thank you for your comment! Brings it back to the basic- you really can’t control for bloat. I’m looking into soaking kibble for the first time and don’t want to do it “wrong” so I’m looking at a few articles. I appreciate your matter-of-fact comment.

    • As a GSD owner I too am concerned about bloat. For 8 years I have always added water to her kibble. Recently I read that wetting kibble with CITRIC ACID as an ingredient increases the chance of bloat 320 percent. As you said, there are so many contradicting articles I feel torn apart over which way to go. I think I agree with you that there is really nothing we can do but hope for the best and let our pets enjoy their lives as best we can.

  13. Great! I learn more here. I’m in a perfect timing to have this learning. So much informative that can help my problem. Last time I use Genuine Haarlem Product for my pets, specially for dogs. Thanks for sharing keep on posting more blogs here. God bless!!!

  14. I have no problem with adding water and my dog’s do not eat it necessarily right away.
    My 10 yr old is very picky and has had teeth removed, my 7 yr old is not very picky but the don’t eat the food right away.
    I leave it until they eat it..

  15. have a yorkie with teeth too lazzzy to chew started doing equal part water to food is this the right measures. also ad shredded chicken. she is 12yrs. old withh pancreaitis food is also script by vet.

  16. I have a 17 year old schnoodle. Recently I had a major scare. He bloated like crazy twice in a two week span. Happened all of a sudden. I thought i was going to lose him. He has had many of his teeth extracted over his years and I have softened his food in water for many years always keeping it refrigerated. Since his bloating incident i have figured out his digestive system wasn’t working well even with the soft food. I had to feed him in smaller portions throughout the day. In addition to my routine I figured out smashing his portion of the wet food to what I call “mashed potatoes” like texture mixed with boiled shaved chicken pieces did the trick. No more bloat issues and he is as peppy as ever.

  17. My father’s gun dogs never ate meat. Dried meal was soaked with boiled water. It cooled pretty quickly and they wolfed it down. There was nothing missing from the meal. Without exception, all of our dogs were muscular, fit and active, with gorgeous coats and healthy teeth and gums. The dogs did get the occasional bone as a treat. Think Provincial England where you walk down to the local butcher and buy a large beef bone for the dog. We did have a greedy terrier who got into the feed bag once and spent twelve hours lying on his side with a bulging tummy and glassy eyes. He survived and would have done it all over again if he could.

  18. I raised 8 German Shepherd I did socialization with them for 16 months. Then they would go back to the school for the Blind where the trainers finish the training. Us puppies raisers called this going to college and then they would just place another adorable puppy in our arms for another 16 mo. Our feeding instructions were no water for one hour before they eat, soak food (Kibble) for 20 minutes, and no playing after meal for one hour. We all worry about the Bloat in our dogs. This is a precaution. I am doing this also with my 50 pound Rescue Lab/Mix dog. Going to purchase the dog dish for my dog to slow him down. Had a few of my shepherds that I couldn’t slow them down so I used the divided dish (do not remember the actual name of this dog dish but boy they do work.

  19. Starting to add warm water to my 5 month puppy kibble for the past three days. She has been a slow eater and I think may be like my other dogs that prefer grazing when hungry. My vet said this was fine for my previous Westie and my 6 year Goldendoodle. My mini bernedoodle pup is teething with sore bloody I started adding water 1/4 cup to 1 cup kibble twice a day. The problem is frequently waking at night with loose stools for two of the three nights I’ve wet the kibble. She eats it all within 10 minutes. This is more food than she was eating but less than recommended on the bag. I know the threat of bacteria so definitely throw away any uneaten within 15 minutes. She is healthy, energetic and happy. I read teething pups could get upset tummies but now wondering if I’m wrong to wet this kibble?

  20. Dry food encourages dogs to chew their food, which aids in preventing tartar buildup and secondary periodontal disease. Convenience: Compared to wet food, dry diets are much easier to pre-portion, and they won’t spoil if left out all day. This can be beneficial for dogs that are grazers.

  21. I have 3 German Shepherds and a shitzu. I had all their teeth cleaned and needed to feed soften food. When fully soaked in water the amount is huge. If I give one dog 2 cups dry food per meal should I give them 2 cups soften food or the two cups dried, softened? I haven’t been able to find a feeding guide for softened dry food. Any thoughts would be appreciated.