At Dolittle’s we try every day to improve the relationship between dog and owner (okay, guardian, for you freaks out there. Hey, give us some cred we did list dog first).  Having been around nearly 20 years Dolittle’s has picked up some handy tips and smart advice for living harmoniously with the family dog.  One such tip that we pass out daily is MORE WATER[1].

Dolittle’s understands that dry food is often the best option for busy families with pets.  Dry food is as it was 150 years ago: convenient.  And, the good news is that today’s quality dog foods are closer to mimicking ancestral diets than ever[2], except for one glaring…uh…exception, lack of water. A quick internet search will give you a rule of thumb for canine daily water consumption: 1 ounce for 1 pound of body weight.[3]  Sure your dog may drink a lot, but we’d like to make the case for adding some of their daily water into their daily food.

1. Dog foods contain salt.  Even the great all-natural foods found on Dolittle’s shelves contain some amount of salt.  Salt dehydrates the system and we want to hydrate it.

2. Stomach capacity. An average dog, say 50lb can have a stomach capacity of 24ounces.  Now one, we never want to push the stomach to capacity, and two, we certainly don’t want to do it with food. Adding water to the food allows us to trick the stomach into feeling full with far less food.

3. Dolittle’s Practical Guide to the Canine Universe– Double Patented Sponge Theory.  We believe that the dog’s system has a finite amount of water in it.  Roughly 70% of their weight. Next we propose that dry food, with it’s porous construction and salt content,  acts like a dry sponge on that system. So each time you feed dry food you actually deplete the system of valuable water.

Now you’re saying: “But my dog drinks a TON of water.”  Well one, that’s not true, a ton is an awful lot; 35,274 ounces roughly.  And two, are you sure?  By the above rule of thumb a 64 pound dog should be drinking 64 ounces a day, or 8 cups.  The average dog bowl is around 24 ounces so you better be filling that thing up at least two and a half times a day.

But enough about you, back to our sponge theory.  Let’s do some experimenting!

Investigating the Affects of Dry Food on a Wet System
Gather these materials: A measuring cup, a dry sponge (the old fashioned kind), and some water.

Part I
1.  Cut the sponge so that it fits nicely into the bottom of the measuring cup.
2. Into the empty measuring cup add 3/4 cup of water.
3. Drop the sponge in.
4. Wait 10 minutes, then remove the sponge. Save saturated sponge for Part II.
5. Observe the new water level.

Part II
1. Fill the measuring cup back up to 3/4 cup.
2. Drop the saturated sponge in.
3. Wait 10 minutes, then remove the sponge.
4. Observe the new water level.

So kids, what have we learned from this little experiment? Dry sponges don’t make good food, wait no, dry dog food extracts moisture.  Granted the amount of water lost can be debated, but hopefully we can all agree that there is a loss.  We believe losing any water is not good for the system, especially over a prolonged period of time.

In conclusion we offer that adding water to your dog’s dry food (and, hey, cats love it too!) will offer a few dietary benefits:
1. salt dilution. Easy enough, If you turn one cup of food into 2 cups fed (with water) you’ve diluted the salt.
2. stomach capacity trickery.  Take a look at the two middle pictures above.  The dog eating dry food (top row) would experience little change in capacity.  The dog eating food with water (bottom row) would feel like more food is in the stomach.
3. increased water consumption.  Say your 64lb dog needs 64 ounces of water. If you add water 1 to 1 to the feeding amount, let’s say 4 cups (2 cups twice a day), in two meals you’ve added 32oz of water. Half of their daily need.

MYTHBUSTER: We hear a few of you saying: “I feed dry food to keep my dog’s teeth clean.” This is a MYTH.  Don’t believe us? Try this experiment at home: Eat a bowl of cereal without milk.  How do your teeth feel? Now eat a bowl with milk.  Any cleaner? Food does not clean teeth (any more than it helps us lose weight (another blog)).  Brushing cleans teeth.  Ever had a dentist say: “you could brush, or just eat a bag of pretzels now and then. That should do it.” By the way, when you perform this experiment only move your jaw up and down, not sideways, that will more closely mimic your dog.

One benefit to adding water we did not go over (because we have a whole other blog on that) is that it greatly reduces flatulence. The dog’s not yours. Check it out here! Shameless cross promotion.

As always we welcome your feedback. Chow!

1We would like to emphasize that this is a PRACTICAL guide NOT a medical guide.  Changes to your dogs health and diet should always be between you and your dog’s professional medical care giver.  At best we hope our practical guide will give you practical questions to ask and/or food for thought.
2 BJones, Feeding Your Dog – Could You Be Feeding Your Dog The Wrong Things? www.siriusdog.com 

3 Why Your Dog Is Always Thirsty www.webmd.com 

Advertisements

A dog.  A bowl.  A bag of food.  Now what?  Here are six tips to make life easier and healthier. 

1: Feed the need, not the want
Your dog has a caloric requirement.  He needs energy to do the things he does.  Food provides that energy.  Here’s an example: a 50lbs dog that goes on a daily 30 minute walk requires about 1,050 kCals per day, fewer on slow days and more on active days.  If he gets a few treats, he gets a little less food. 

Finding caloric numbers on dog food can be a difficult task, currently it is not a requirement in the industry.  A quick call to the manufacturer will enlighten you.  (Dolittle’s can tell you kCals any of the foods they carry) 

2: Use the food’s feeding guide as a GUIDE
The governing body of dog food AAFCO requires manufacturers to include a feeding guide based on industry standards.  The downside here is assuming every dog fits these standards (is 45lb Bulldog the same as a 45lb Australian Sheppard?)  Further the guide can give a broad range (i.e. 21 – 35lb dog 1 2/3c – 2 1/2c  a day).  Dog foods can range from 250 to 600 calories per cup.  If you feed ONE extra cup of food, you potentially increase in your dog’s daily caloric intake by 50%.  

C'est ne pas une tasse

 

3:  Measure
The feeding guide, an estimate on caloric intake, is based on one important thing: a US standard 8oz measuring cup.  So when you read 2 cups of food it does not mean 2 cupfuls of 7 Eleven’s Big Gulp.  The best thing you can do for your dog is feed them by using an 8oz measuring cup. Overfeeding leads to a multitude of problems not the least of which is diarrhea. 

4: Feed smaller meals more frequently
By splitting the consumption of calories your dog will burn energy more evenly.  A heavy breakfast can result in a sluggish afternoon, and dinnertime begging.  Or, if you give your dog all of his energy right before he goes to bed, the body will store it for tomorrow.  Guess where the body stores energy?  Fat.  

5:  Add water
There can’t be enough said about water (I’ll try in another blog).  Here’s the abbreviated version:  Dogs do not get enough of it.  Yes even the heavy drinkers need more.  Pour water on their food like you would milk on cereal.  Your dog will thank you.  If you don’t believe me try just one piece of their dog food and notice how it dries out your mouth.  For more convincing information read the Dolittle’s blog “Doggy Farts.” 

6: Limit what is available
Leaving a full bowl out all the time can lead to all kinds of problems.  One of the biggest (literally) is overeating.  Be responsible and offer what they need twice a day.  If they do not eat it, don’t worry.  At least not the first time or two.  If they don’t eat by the third or fourth meal, well that could be some cause for concern. 

Our pets rely on us to provide them with food.  If they over eat it is only because they are being offered more than they should.  Follow these tips and your dog will be on the way to a long and fit life.

My trusty mechanics (shout out to Hay Tire) have kept my car running great for years.  One of the best things I have done is have the tires rotated regularly.   So what do tire rotation and pet food have in common?  They both save on wear and tear. 

Let’s say your car pulls to the left, over time the left side of your tires will wear down.  When you bring home a new dog you choose a food.  You feed that food day in and day out.  Then sometime down the road your dog begins to show signs of wear and tear.  You notice: itchy skin, eye goop, flaky coat, or maybe the smell of Frito’s.  There can be a number of reasons for these symptoms (check with your vet), and one easy place to start looking is the food. 

At Dolittle’s I often see dogs that show signs of internal wear and tear.Natural Balance  It even happens with quality food, after too much lamb and rice the dog’s system can become intolerant of lamb and rice.  I offer a change of diet to every one of my customers.  The results are almost always the same.  Things improve.  Comments come back like “changing my dog to duck and potato did the trick.”  What some customers will overlook is that it is not just the food helping but the rotation.  Given time these customers could be back in the same situation where their dog starts to show wear and tear on duck and potato.  What’s the answer? Again, rotation.

Dog food companies would LOVE for you to feed their food for the life of your pet.  They even say so right on the label with phrases like “ABC the only food your pet will ever need” or “XYZ for life.”  What makes these foods right for your dog?  Yes the dog likes it and it meets AAFCO standards, but so what?  Every dog food company strives to make a food your dog will like.  And as far as AAFCO feeding trials, they only last 5 weeks so why make a lifetime commitment?

So how did you chose your dog’s food in the first place?  Was it a TV commercial? Vet recommendation? Breeder suggestion? Dolittle’s?  Why did you choose to feed it for the life of your pet?  What about the thousands of other foods out there? Aren’t they just as good? Could they be better? With so many excellent choices today, I would hate to deny my dogs the opportunity of trying them.

By rotating diets you give your dog’s body the chance to process different protein sources, different vitamin content, and even different regional ingredients.  With rotation you help create a tolerant digestive system, one with reduced wear and tear.

Go ahead, try something new

Ric Sommons
Owner – Dolittle’s