Can adding water to dry dog food cause diarrhea? It depends.
You want to know: Can adding water to dry dog food cause diarrhea?
No worries, we’ve got you covered.
The short answer is: Adding water to dry dog food will not cause diarrhea in most cases.
But adding water can trigger diarrhea if:
- You add too much water too quickly
- There are underlying health problems
- There are contamination issues
But there is more you need to know.
This is why this article will tell you everything you need to know about:
- Main reasons why adding water to dry dog food can cause diarrhea
- How you can safely add water to dry dog food
- What you should do if your dog has diarrhea
Let’s do this.
Let’s see whether adding water to your dog’s food can trigger diarrhea.
Main reasons why adding water to dry dog food can cause diarrhea
Here are some of the most common reasons why adding water to dry dog food can cause diarrhea.
Sudden introduction of water
Dogs are sensitive to sudden changes to their food.
This is why a sudden introduction of water to your dog’s food can disrupt your pup’s digestive system and trigger diarrhea (more on gradual introduction later).
Adding too much water to your dog’s food can dilute your pup’s stomach enzymes and acids.
This can make it harder for your doggy to digest food properly. And yes, this can trigger diarrhea.
Chlorine in water
Chlorine in tap water can trigger diarrhea.
Stagnant water is often a breeding ground for bacteria which can trigger diarrhea.
Cold water can shock the dog’s digestive system and upset the dog’s stomach.
Dirty and contaminated utensils can introduce harmful bacteria or pathogens to your dog’s food. This can trigger diarrhea.
Adding water that is contaminated with harmful bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal issues, which can trigger diarrhea.
Adding water to your pup’s food can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This imbalance may lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.
Adding water to dry food adds extra volume to your dog’s meal. This can lead to overfeeding and diarrhea.
Adding water to kibble can cause overhydration, which can lead to diarrhea.
A dog with a sensitive stomach may experience digestive upset when introduced to a new food texture or moisture level. Diarrhea may soon follow.
Underlying allergies or sensitivities
Be careful if your dog has a history of allergies or food sensitivities.
Adding water to your pup’s food can trigger those allergies or food sensitivities, which can trigger diarrhea.
Dogs with certain health issues may be more prone to diarrhea after you add water to their dry food.
This especially applies to dogs with gastrointestinal disorders, sensitive stomachs, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Electrolyte and nutrient imbalance
Mixing dry dog food with water can disrupt the balance of important things like electrolytes and nutrients.
This may in turn upset your pup’s stomach and trigger diarrhea.
Adding water to low-quality dry dog food can make the food harder to digest for dogs. This can cause digestive upset and lead to diarrhea.
Excessive amount of fillers in low-quality dog food is especially harmful to dogs.
VIDEO: How to feed a dog with diarrhea
Pros & cons of adding water to dry dog food
Here are the most common pros and cons of adding water to dry dog food.
Improved taste and texture
My German Shepherd (Max) is a picky eater.
Luckily, adding warm water to dry food enhances the flavor and texture of dog food. This is usually enough for my dog to eat its meals.
But make sure your doggy consumes food as soon as it appears in the bowl.
This is because most dogs will reject kibble that sits in water for longer than 15 minutes.
Our breakfast cereals also lose their taste and appeal after sitting in milk for too long, don’t they?
Adding water to dry food can help your dog digest its meals.
This is especially true for young and senior dogs.
Moistened dry meal is gentler on the stomach.
Also, water added to dry food allows dog food to travel more smoothly in a dog’s digestive system.
Speaking of senior dogs, luckily there are dog food brands that make outstanding food specifically designed for senior dogs. One such brand is Orijen, whose food we recently rated as the best dog food for senior Poodles. And yes, this particular food is also suitable for many other dog breeds.
Support for sensitive stomachs
My German Shepherd has a sensitive stomach.
I found that moistened kibble is easier to digest for my doggy. According to my research, this is also the case for most dogs with a sensitive stomach.
By the way, adding water to dry dog food can also improve intestinal motility.
Better oral health
Chewing dry food may be painful for dogs with dental problems.
Adding water to dry meals softens dog food and makes it less challenging to chew.
Wash away dental issues
Adding water to your dog’s diet can help reduce tartar formation and plaque build-up.
This is because water can help wash away bits of food that would otherwise cling to your dog’s teeth and gums.
Boost to hydration
Your dog should have access to fresh water at all times, especially in summer.
Adding water to dry dog food can help keep your pup hydrated.
More water please
Some dogs are born with a lower thirst drive than other dogs.
If you have a dog who doesn’t drink enough water, sneaking water into dry food can provide your doggy with more water.
Better nutrient absorption
Soaking dry meals can help release and activate nutrients, making them more available for absorption.
Like many dogs, my German Shepherd eats too fast. In fact, sometimes it just swallows its food.
Unfortunately, eating too quickly can cause serious conditions like bloat.
Luckily, adding water to dry dog food nicely slows down my dog’s eating speed. This reduces the risk of serious health issues, including bloat. And reduces the risk of diarrhea.
By the way, bloat can occur when a dog’s stomach bloats and twists around itself. Once the stomach twists, it quickly starts to fill with gas, leading to life-threatening bloat.
Better weight management
Kibble is nutrient-rich.
This means that the amount of kibble you give to your pup based on the dog’s weight may not fill your doggy up.
Adding water increases the food’s volume without adding extra calories to your dog’s diet.
That extra volume should help your doggy feel full and satisfied after a meal.
Great for senior dogs
Senior dogs may struggle to chew dry dogfood. Dogs with dental problems or missing teeth are especially vulnerable.
Adding water to dry meals softens the food, making it easier for older dogs to chew, swallow, and digest.
As discussed earlier, adding water to your dog’s kibble can trigger diarrhea.
Adding too much water to your dog’s dry dog food may cause harm your pup’s kidneys (access water may enter the kidneys).
Yes, I’ve ruined plenty of kibble in the past.
I added too much water.
So be careful when adding water to your dog’s kibble. If you spoil dry food too often, your dog may start hating dry food. And you really don’t want that.
Shortened shelf life
Soaked kibble has a shorter shelf life compared to dry kibble.
This may result in waste if the moistened dry dog food is not consumed immediately.
This can be especially a problem for a dog owner who likes to prepare meals in advance or who has a dog with low appetite.
Adding water to dry dog food may dissolve (release) preservatives present in the food.
This may cause health issues, including indigestion, diarrhea, coat and skin issues, and more.
My German Shepherd was no fan of wet kibble. Mainly because I was adding to much water.
Plus, my dog is generally a fussy eater.
So if your pup is a picky eater, experiment by adding less water to dry dog food.
Also, make sure your picky doggy eats its meals as soon as you fill the bowl. This is because dry dog food that sits in water for too long will turn into an unappetizing mush.
Your dog may refuse soaked dry meals if the food is too soggy. This is what my dog was doing.
So gradually increase the water content to eventually find the perfect amount of water for your pup.
Too much hassle
Yes, playing with water may prove too much hassle at times.
But with some patience and consistency, you should soon find the right amount of water for your dog’s kibble.
Your doggy will thank you for that by devouring kibble like there was no tomorrow.
How can you safely add water to dry dog food?
Here are the main steps I always follow to safely add water to my dog’s dry dog food.
Add kibble to an empty dog’s bowl
Pour water on top of kibble
Let kibble soak for 5 minutes then stir
Don’t put kibble into a bowl full of water, as this will turn kibble into a soup. Also, your dog may just eat the dry parts of kibble and leave the wet bits untouched.
Let kibble soak for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the temperature of the water you added to kibble.
If some parts of kibble are still dry, add a bit more water.
Note that most dogs will reject kibble that sits in water for longer than 15 minutes.
When ready, dry food should look like gravy with visible chunks of kibble.
I recommend the following practical tips for adding water to your pup’s food, based on my extensive personal experience.
The water you’re adding to dry dog food should be lukewarm.
Lukewarm water is absorbed much quicker than cold water.
Also, lukewarm water will enhance the food’s smell and taste.
The quality of water matters when adding water to your dog’s food.
So make sure to use filtered water. It doesn’t need to be bottled water. Just ensure water is properly filtered.
Start by adding a small amount of water to your dog’s dry food.
This will allow your pup to get used to the new food texture. This will also let your dog’s digestive system adjust.
Over time, you’ll be able to increase the amount of water if needed.
You should add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water per cup of dry dog food. Consider adding about 1/6 of a cup if your dog is a picky eater.
Make sure to never go beyond 1/2 cup. If you think your doggy needs more hydration, consider switching to wet dog food.
You can make the transition even easier by mixing dry dog food with wet food.
Mixing canned dog food with dry dog food is also a great way to finish up your kibble stockpile when you’re switching your doggy to wet dog food.
Note that how much water you add to dry dog food will depend on your dog’s age, weight, and health.
But also note that the exact amount can vary, so it’s always advisable to talk to your veterinarian to determine the right amount of water for your dog.
Monitor your dog’s reaction
Keep a close eye on your dog after adding extra water to your dog’s diet.
If you notice any signs of discomfort or digestive upset, including diarrhea, stop adding water.
Always use clean, fresh water.
And always use clean utensils for mixing.
Allergies or food sensitivities
Be very careful if your pup has a history of allergies or food sensitivities.
In fact, consult your vet before you make any dietary changes, especially if your doggy has a history of digestive issues or health conditions.
As always, only use high-quality dog food, whether you mix it with water or not.
Also, ensure the food is suitable for your dog’s size, age, and any specific dietary needs.
To ensure your dog is getting only high-quality food, feed your pup dog food designed by the best dog food brands. For example, we recently rated The Farmer’s Dog as the best overall dog food for German Shorthaired Pointers. And yes, this food is also suitable for many other dog breeds.
Adding water to dry dog food is generally safe for most dogs.
But remember that every dog is unique.
This means that some dogs may be more sensitive to extra water in their food than others.
If your dog gets diarrhea after you add water to its food, monitor your pup’s condition.
Contact your vet if the diarrhea persists, gets worse, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.
Alternatives to adding water to dry dog food
If for whatever reasons you can’t add water to your dog’s dry dog food, consider these alternatives.
Yes, you can try milk if water is not working for your dog.
In addition to adding moisture to dry dog food, milk is also a great source of calcium, which promotes healthy teeth and bones in dogs.
Milk is also a quality source of protein and other essential nutrients.
Hybrid dog food
A combination of wet food and dry food.
Also, you can just add canned food directly to a bowl containing dry dog food.
Wet dog food
It contains more moisture than dry dog food
Fresh or raw dog food
Offer a great balance of nutrients and moisture
Try adding some wet ingredients such as chicken stock or gravy
You can also try adding low-sodium broth as a topper
Commercial dry dog food and water
The quality of dry dog food can greatly affect the outcomes of adding water to your pup’s dry food.
Here are some of the key features of high-quality dog food:
- Has high-quality protein sources as the main ingredient
- Contains whole grains and vegetables
- Comes with omega-3 fatty acids
- Contains no (or very little) artificial preservatives and additives
For your reference, here is the moisture content of dry and wet dog food:
- Dry dog food: 10% – 12% moisture content
- Wet dog food: 75% – 85% moisture content
Other causes of diarrhea in dogs
As I mentioned earlier, my German Shepherd has a sensitive stomach.
This means that my dog can easily get diarrhea for other reasons than added water to its food. This can also happen to your doggy.
To help prevent diarrhea when adding water to your pup’s food, I present you with the most common causes of diarrhea that don’t involve adding water to dry dog food.
A sudden change in diet
Switching your doggy to a new diet too quickly can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea.
Changing your dog’s diet can trigger diarrhea when you:
- Switch dog food brands
- Introduce new treats
- Add wet food to your pup’s diet
Follow these rules to prevent diarrhea when changing your pup’s diet:
- Days 1-2: Mix 25 % of the new food with 75 % of the old food
- Days 3-4: Mix 50 % of the new food with 50 % of the old food
- Days 5-6: Mix 75 % of the new food with 25 % of the old food
- Day 7: Feed your dog 100 % of the new food
Follow these guidelines to avoid bacterial contamination:
- Keep your dog’s bowls clean and sanitized at all times
- Stainless steel bowls are best for minimizing the risk of bacteria growth
- Store dry dog food in airtight containers
- Store dry dog food in a cool and dry place
- Look for signs of dog food spoilage or mold
Salmonella is one of the bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Specifically, salmonella can causes bloody diarrhea that contains mucus or even blood-tinged mucus. Some dogs who contract salmonella can also develop fever and vomiting along with bloody diarrhea.
Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety in dogs can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea.
Parasites such as coccidia, giardia, and roundworms can trigger diarrhea.
The most common symptoms of parasite infestation in dogs is watery stool containing mucus or blood.
Contact your vet immediately if you suspect parasite infestation. If untreated, parasite infestation can become chronic.
Dogs that live on farms or near farms are at risk of eating carcasses.
This can cause various illnesses, including diarrhea, if the dead animal died from a disease like rabies or distemper virus.
Allergies and food sensitivities
Dogs with allergies and food sensitivities may develop diarrhea if they consume allergens, such as chicken, beef, lamb, or dairy products.
Luckily, there are already dog food manufacturers that make excellent food for dogs with food allergies. One such brand is Royal Canin, whose dry food we recently rated as the best food for Dobermans with allergies. Yes, this food is also suitable for many other dog breeds.
Ingesting toxic substances such as antifreeze, lead, or insecticides can lead to diarrhea.
Rain, snow, and fog may contain chemicals that can contaminate your dog’s bowl and cause diarrhea.
If your pup’s food bowl is located near another pet’s litter box or other animal’s food bowl, the dog’s bowl may get contaminated by dangerous pathogens that can cause diarrhea and other health issues.
Air moisture can lead to mold growth in dog food.
This is usually a problem with large quantities of dry dog food that is stored for longer periods.
Eating too much can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea.
The most common cause of diarrhea in dogs is ingesting garbage and spoiled food.
What you should do when your dog has diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea are mild and resolve within 24-48 hours.
But some cases of diarrhea can be more serious and may require attention of your vet.
If your dog has been experiencing mild diarrhoea for less than 24 hours, consider settling your poor pup at home before contacting your veterinarian.
If your dog seems really unwell, or has been experiencing diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, you should contact your vet for advice.
To help your dog’s stomach settle, feed your poor pup bland food.
For example, you can serve your dog a boiled chicken and rice.
Pumpkin is also great for calming down dogs’ stomachs.
My personal experience
When my German Shepherd got diarrhea, I gave it psyllium husk.
My dog recovered in no time!
Psyllium husk is a natural and soluble fibre that can support digestive health and promote regular bowel movements in dogs.
Since that day, I always keep psyllium husk handy at home.
Diarrhea can cause health issues, including serious dehydration.
Here are the most common signs of dehydration in dogs:
Dry nose and mouth
Dry nose and mouth is one of the most evident signs of dehydration.
Sunken and dull eyes
The eyes of a dehydrated dog may lose their usual shine. The eyes may appear dull and sunken.
Sticky gums is another sign that your dog may be dehydrated.
Loss of skin elasticity
Dehydration can also cause loss of skin elasticity in dogs.
So gently pinch the skin on the back of your pup’s neck. If the skin doesn’t quickly return to its normal position, your poor doggy may be dehydrated.
Dehydrated dogs often become weak and lethargic.
Yes, frequent defecation can be another sign that your dog is dehydrated.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the number one cause of diarrhea in dogs?
Eating spoiled food and garbage is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs.
Can moistened food cause dental problems?
No, moistened food doesn’t usually cause dental problems.
In fact, moistening dog food can be beneficial for your pup’s dental health.
Softer food reduces the risk of tooth fractures and excessive wear.
When should I contact a vet if my dog has diarrhea?
Most cases of diarrhea resolve within 24-48 hours.
But if your dog has been experiencing diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, you should contact your vet.
Can I add broth to my dog’s dry food instead of water?
Yes, you can add low-sodium broth to your pup’s dry food.
In fact, low-sodium broth will add not only moisture but also extra flavor to food.
If my dog doesn’t drink much water, should I add water to dry dog food?
Yes, adding water to dog food can help increase your dog’s water intake.
Still, consider contacting your vet if you’re concerned about your dog’s hydration.
Can I add water to dry dog food of my puppy?
Yes, adding water to your puppy’s food can make it easier to eat and digest dry food.
Just make sure to introduce moistened food gradually.
By the way, make sure to feed your puppy food specifically designed for puppies. For example, we recently rated Open Farm as the best dog food for Dalmatian puppies. And yes, this particular food is suitable for many other dog breeds.
What else can I add to dry dog food to make it more appealing?
You can add tasty toppers to make dog food more appealing to your dog.
For my German Shepherd, I often use yogurt, eggs, cheese, or peanut butter. My dog loves these toppers!
I also use natural food enhancers, such as mint, turmeric, oregano, or parsley. These herbs greatly improve dog food’s taste and smell.
Can moistening food lead to nutrient loss?
It’s true that water can drain some water-soluble minerals, such as some B vitamins.
But the nutritional loss is negligible.
Also, the benefits of improved digestion and hydration when adding water to dog food usually outweigh any nutritional losses.
Can adding water to dog food cause bloat?
Bloat is more associated with eating too quickly rather than with adding water to dog food.
In fact, dogs usually eat slower when their food is moistened.
Can adding water to dry dog food cause diarrhea? FINAL WORD
You wanted to know: Can adding water to dry dog food cause diarrhea?
As you found out in this article, adding water to dry dog food will not cause diarrhea in most cases.
Still, adding water can cause diarrhea if:
- Too much water is added and too quickly
- There are underlying health problems
- There are contamination issues
You also learnt in this article:
- Main reasons why adding water to dry dog food can cause diarrhea
- How you can safely add water to dry dog food
- What you can do if your dog has diarrhea
We hope all this information will help your dog enjoy a diarrhea-free life!
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of illness, pain, or distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.