To stay hydrated, the average-sized dog consumes more fluids each day than the average person. This statistic tells two things; we all need to drink more water, and dogs who don’t consume enough water must find additional sources to stay hydrated.
Does wet food hydrate dogs? Yes, wet dog food is an excellent source of fluids for dogs due to its high moisture content. Wet dog food contains 70% to 80% moisture — compared to dry food with only 10% to 15%.
If you believe your dog isn’t keeping hydrated through drinking water, introducing wet food to their diet does help with hydration.
Remember, dogs do best with a consistent diet. Switching from dry to wet foods is a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix — and there’s no substitute for a clean bowl of filtered water.
This article helps you better understand the pros and cons of wet food for dogs, if it’s the right choice, and alternative foods that hydrate dogs.
Understanding wet dog food: Does wet food hydrate dogs?
Dogs are similar to us as their body is about seventy percent water. To stay hydrated, dogs need to replenish any fluids lost through sweating, panting, and urinating by drinking water and eating.
Dogs need roughly 1 ounce of fluids per pound of body weight daily, about two 16-ounce bottles of water for the average dog. To put into perspective, that’s the amount of water the average person drinks.
Thankfully, food and snacks help support hydration through moisture content.
Wet dog food is an excellent source of fluids for dogs, having seven times the amount of dry food. Dry dog foods deliver 10% to 15% moisture compared to 70% to 80% in wet food.
Benefits of wet dog food
Hydration isn’t the only benefit of wet dog food. Canned foods are helpful for many situations, such as:
- Enticing dogs to eat: A dog’s appetite shrinks as they age or when sick. Wet food has a more pungent smell and taste that dog loves, driving senior and ill dogs to eat despite a low appetite.
- Easing chewing difficulties: Crunching on kibble can be painful or irritating for dogs with hurt teeth, gums, or jaw. Since wet food is softer, it’s excellent for dogs suffering from mouth issues.
- Providing fullness: Compared to kibble, wet food can cause dogs to feel full for longer. This fullness is especially helpful for a dog’s weight loss diet.
Negatives of wet dog food
Exclusively feeding your dog wet food does have some downsides. This is why many veterinarians suggest kibble unless there’s a purpose.
The negative benefits of wet dog food are:
- Messiness: You may have added clean-up when feeding your dog wet food, including wiping their face and cleaning the bowl daily.
- Expensive: Dry dog food diets are typically more affordable. Depending on the brand, wet dog foods can cost as much as three times more than dry food.
- Shorter shelf life: Wet foods spoil faster than dry food, which can be accidentally left open without risk. The shelf life of dry food allows you to purchase in bulk sizes, saving money.
- Dental health risk: Since wet food is sticky, keeping your dog’s teeth clean is more challenging, leading to a higher risk of periodontal disease.
Mixing kibble and wet food
When your dog can benefit from wet food in their diet, but you’re not ready to fully transition from dry food, consider mixing kibble and wet food.
A scoop of wet food added to kibble provides the benefits of wet food while maintaining a dog’s regular dry diet.
Anytime you adjust your dog’s diet, be observant of weight gain. Wet foods can be higher in calories than kibble, so making the proper adjustments will prevent excess calories from converting to fat.
To ensure your dog doesn’t overconsume calories, always use a measuring cup or spoon when serving your dog’s food. By weighing dogs monthly, it’s easy to make minor adjustments to the food levels when noticing weight gain or loss.
Adding water to kibble
Introducing a second food to your dog’s diet is expensive while increasing your shopping list. If the only benefit to your dog eating wet food is hydration, consider adding water to kibble instead.
When adding water to kibble, don’t flood the bowl with water. Use enough water to hydrate the kibble and leave a small layer of remaining water on the bottom of the bowl.
The kibble flavors the water, encouraging your dog to lick the bowl clean, increasing water intake and hydration.
Additional hydrating foods for dogs
A dog’s primary food isn’t the only way to deliver added hydration. Many healthy, hydrating snacks in your refrigerator provide high water content, low calories, and taste amazing.
All-natural snacks with higher water content than wet dog food are:
- Cucumber: 96% water
- Watermelon: 92% water
- Strawberries: 91% water
- Cantaloupe: 90% water
- Apples: 85% water
- Ice cubes: 100% water
Maintaining a focus on hydration helps keep dogs healthy. Wet dog food is an excellent source for adding fluids to your dog’s diet but isn’t the only option.
To ensure your dog is hydrated, always:
- Ensure your dog has access to fresh filtered water.
- Switch your dog’s treats to high water content fruits and vegetables.
- Add water to kibble after long hot days or strenuous exercise.
- Provide a scoop of wet dog food when concerned about a lack of water drinking.
Dehydration is very dangerous, causing permanent harm to internal organs and even death.
To identify early signs of dehydration in dogs, look for a dry nose, lethargy, and excessive panting. Dehydrated dogs typically show signs through gum tackiness and a lack of skin elasticity when pinched.
Your dog should self-hydrate so long as the water is available. Always consult your veterinarian when your dog has stopped drinking water or eating. It’s likely a sign of a more severe condition.
Did you learn important hydrating tips for your dog? Share this article so others can learn the importance of water and hydration for their dogs.