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.

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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?

19 COMMENTS

  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.

    • Does it affect the food in any negative way if it is soaked. My GSD swallows these huge puppy kibble whole. Not ok with that but dont want to alter the nutrition for a Puppy. Yikes

  3. I mix hot water and the kibble and my Boxer and Yellow Lab/Husky think they’re getting something special and eat it down.

  4. 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

  5. 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 .

  6. 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?

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!!

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