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Can You Add Water to Dry Dog Food? Vet-Reviewed Benefits & Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

dry dog food with water

Can You Add Water to Dry Dog Food? Vet-Reviewed Benefits & Tips


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Many dog owners feed their dogs a combination of wet and dry food, though dry food is definitely more common. Why? Because dry food is cheaper to buy and it’s much easier to prepare.

However, dogs of all ages do have certain moisture requirements that must be met each day, which wet food does a great job of fulfilling. So, can you add water to dry food for this moisture requirement? Yes, you can add water to dry dog food and it will provide different benefits for your dog.

Let’s discuss how to do it correctly.

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Can You Add Water to Dry Dog Food?

It’s fairly common for dog owners to add water to their dry food kibble. Not only does it enhance your dog’s hydration, but it makes the wet meal way more palatable and enjoyable to eat.

If dogs could talk, they will likely tell you that they actually prefer wet food over dry food any day, especially if they are weaning puppies. Wet food simply smells better and tastes often better to them.

cute corgi dog eating dry dog food
Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

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Are There Benefits of Adding Water to Dry Food?

Yes, there are a few benefits. Let’s take a look at the most notable ones.

Aids in Digestion

Sometimes dry dog food can be fairly difficult for dogs to ingest. This can definitely be the case for weaning pups and dogs who have digestive issues or are sick. Water simply helps the food go down better.

It will also help the absorption of all of the nutrients within the food. It’s important to note that smaller dogs may be more prone to digestive issues. So, if you notice that your pup has trouble downing the dry kibble, consider adding clean, drinking water to the mix or trying wet or fresh food to see if it handles it better.

Improves Hydration Levels

Adequate daily hydration is absolutely essential for every dog’s health, whether it’s young or old. Dogs’ daily physiological functions depend on daily nutrients and water intake.

Your dog should have at least a proper bowel movement every day. If your dog is lacking hydration, it can struggle with passing stools, which can lead to other digestive issues. If you notice that your dog already has these issues, adding water to its dry kibble may help to replenish moisture lost throughout the day.

Prevents Potential Health Issues

When dogs are dehydrated, they can run into a ton of different health problems. Not only are they not getting the daily hydration that they need to function, but they may also experience issues with eliminating waste, urinating, and blood circulation problems.

It’s common for dehydrated dogs who suffer from UTIs or have hormonal imbalances due to a loss of electrolytes. This in turn can lead to weakness, pain, seizures, and breathing difficulties.

dog eating from bowl in kitchen
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Wet Kibble May Help Appetite

Wet kibble is also known to be a great stimulant to improve a dog’s appetite. If your dog isn’t consuming enough food on a daily basis, try adding a bit of water to the mix. Water can help to enhance the flavor and aroma of dry kibble, which can in turn spark curiosity in your pup, and may help with its low appetite.


How Do You Add Water to Dry Food?

Adding water to your dog’s dry food isn’t exactly rocket science, think of it more as an art. You may need to adjust the ratios based on how well your dog takes to it, and this may take a few tries to perfect.

Start off by adding just a half cup of water to a single cup of dry food. It’s better if the water is hotter, as it will quickly soften the dry food and make it easier to serve. However, make sure that it’s cool before serving it to your dog.

It can take anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes for the kibble to soak thoroughly enough to make it moist, though it shouldn’t be mushy. What you don’t want to do is make “floating kibble”.

This is when you feed your dog a bowl full of water and dried food that hasn’t softened yet, resulting in the dry food simply floating on top of the water in the bowl. Don’t be surprised if your dog isn’t eager to consume this.

So be sure to let the food soak for a few minutes to soften it up a bit. And don’t be afraid to spice things up by adding more food to the mix. For example, you can add fresh meat such as beef, chicken, veggies, or even an egg or fruits to the mix, just make sure they are on the list of safe foods for your dog to consume.

Quick Tips for Altering Dry Dog Food

Always Consult Your Vet First

Adding water to your dog’s dry food isn’t a huge concern. However, if you make other significant changes to your dog’s meal plan, you may want to consult with your vet first to ensure that it’s okay to do.

This includes mixing therapeutic pet foods, changing the dog’s diet to include less or more protein or certain vitamins, or placing the dog on a restricted diet for health reasons.

Therapeutic diets are created to delay and prevent many common pet health conditions. However, these foods can have an adverse effect if the formulations aren’t followed carefully.

Husky dog lying on vet table with doctor and owner near by
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Try to Mix Similar Dog Foods

It’s not uncommon for dog owners to mix different pet foods that have different textures and shapes. For example, you may want to add a little bit of wet food to your dry kibble, to give it more moisture. It’s great to shake things up in your dog’s meal plan and it will probably love you for this.

However, you may want to be careful when mixing different foods that have different aromas and textures, as this may be initially off-putting to the pup. It’s always best to do a trial test before mixing large amounts of different foods.

  • Determine proper dog food portions and ideal daily intake with our helpful calorie calculator here.

A Word of Caution

Adding water to dry dog food is a great way to enhance its palatability and texture and aid in digestion. It is important to use only clean drinking water to add to the food. You also need to make sure that all of the food gets consumed right away. Once moistened, dry dog food should be consumed within 30 minutes to prevent spoilage or bacterial growth. If your dog did not consume its food within that window of time, it is safer to remove and toss any leftovers before cleaning the bowl.



So, can you add water to dry dog food? Yes. Doing so can help improve your dog’s hydration and provide other notable health benefits. It can also prevent your dog from losing electrolytes, which can be lost easily if it’s sick or suffering from temporary digestive issues.

If you notice that your dog is having issues with passing stools, adding water to the kibble or trying wet food may help with this issue. And remember, when adding water to the kibble, it’s best that the water be as hot as possible and that you let it sit for about 7 to 10 minutes so that the food has time to soak it up, soften and cool down.

Featured Image Credit: BW Folsom, Shutterstock

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