Dry dog food is often a cost-effective and easier alternative to wet dog food. It is simply to store, encourages chewing, and can slow down quick eaters, reducing the risk of stomach upsets. However, not all dogs take to dry kibble and some dogs find it difficult to chew and painful for their teeth and gums. The lack of moisture content in dry food can also be a problem for dogs that are reluctant drinkers. One way to overcome this issue is to buy soft dog kibble. But, what do you do if your dog does not like the consistency of the kibble or the flavors that are available?
Luckily, there is a way that dog owners and their dogs can reap the benefits of dry food and overcome these issues. All you need to do is know how to make dog food soft and to soften the food to the right level for your dog. As well as making the food easier to chew, softening the food releases the aromas and flavors of the food. This makes it more appealing to dogs and encourages them to eat. Adding liquid to the food to soften it also increases your dog’s fluid intake and reduces the risk of them choking or becoming dehydrated. So, how do you soften your dog’s food at home?
Add Warm Water
The quickest and easiest way to soften your dog’s food is by adding water to dry dog food. Wetting dry dog food can be a vital part of encouraging puppies and older dogs to eat. It is important that you use warm, not hot water to reduce the risk of scalding your dog’s mouth or yourself while you are preparing the food. Warm water is preferable to cold water as it helps break down the food quicker and helps to release the flavors and smells.
Start by adding just a few tablespoons of warm water to the food and stir it into the meal. Add the water slowly to ensure you do not soften the food to the point where it is just mush. You can always add more water if needed but you can’t take it back out once it has soaked into the food.
If you want to create softer food for a poorly dog or one that is transitioning from wet food, use a fork to mash the food into a paste. You can gradually increase the size of the lumps that you leave in their meals as your dog becomes more accustomed to it.
Add Chicken or Beef Broth
If the food is still not enticing to your dog, then you might want to consider adding a little more flavor. Adding chicken or beef broth will provide that little extra flavor kick that your dog needs. Remember to ensure the broth is warm, not hot, before adding to their food and choose a low-sodium broth to ensure you are not giving your dog too much salt. Follow the same process as you would when adding water to their food.
If you don’t have access to chicken or beef broth, then canned tuna juice can be used as another tasty alternative. Before using the juice from canned tuna, check how the tuna has been prepared. If it is in brine, then do not use it as it will have a very high salt content. It is also worth remembering that using tuna juices will add to the calorie content of your dog’s food. It is a good idea to use a combination of tuna juice and water, especially if your dog needs to watch their weight.
Another alternative is to add milk to their food. However, this should be considered a treat and not something you do every day as milk is high in fat and natural sugars. You can use either cow’s milk or goat’s milk to soften your dog’s food. If you find that your dog has loose stools after using milk in their food, then stop and find an alternative way to soften their food. Dogs like humans can suffer from lactose intolerance. This can cause loose stool, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as intestinal discomfort.
Combine Wet and Dry Food
Combining wet and dry food is a great way for dog owners to gently soften and moisten dry food. Ensure that you use foods that your pet has eaten previously to reduce the risk of stomach upset. Also, ensure that you follow feeding guidelines and take account of the calories in both the wet and the dry food. You can use the same flavor wet and dry foods or mix things up and use different flavors that your dog enjoys. While any wet canned food can be used, those that are produced in gravy are probably the easiest to mix in while loaf style canned food will probably not have much effect on the composition of the dry food.
How you choose to soften your dog’s food will depend greatly on your dog’s preferences and eating habits. It may also depend on how soft you need to get the food and the reasons why you are soaking your dog’s food. You may wish to discuss the benefit of softening food with your veterinarian. Water or broth will allow you to create anything from softened lumps to a paste. Mixing wet and dry food is more likely to result in softened kibble lumps but is unlikely to create a smooth paste. Regardless of how you choose to soften your dog’s food, it is important to remember to introduce new foods slowly and to use high-quality foods that provide the nutritional balance that your dog needs. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh water and follow the feeding guidelines on the food you choose to ensure that they maintain a healthy weight.
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- Ashley Gallagher, DVM, 5 Dos and Don’ts for Mixing Your Pet’s Food, PetMD