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? 

3 Why Your Dog Is Always Thirsty