When talking about dog food, there are different options you can choose from, such as dry food, canned food, or even preparing home-cooked meals. There are always discussions about what the best option is for dogs. But, in the end, whatever you decide to give to your dog is good enough as none of these options are bad.
If you decide on dry dog food, we can assure you that it comes with some benefits. First, a lot of experts say that because of the crunchy texture of kibbles, it can actually keep your dog’s mouth healthy. It reduces tartar buildup, and it can reduce plaque.
Second, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and it takes much longer before it goes bad. Third, it is much cheaper than canned food or a home-cooked meal.
But, there is probably going to be a time when you should soften dry kibble because of your dog’s needs either because your dog is getting older and starting to have dental issues, or it is a young puppy that needs softer food, or you have a sick dog that lost its appetite and you need to soften its food and make it more appealing.
Whatever the case might be, a lot of owners sometimes wonder how to soften dog food the best way possible. We are here to help you figure out what the best ways to soften dry food are, and what you need to consider before doing so.
How To Soften Dog Food: 8 Tips For Softening Dry Dog Food
When it comes to feeding your dog and deciding on the right diet, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Some of those are the dog’s age, the dog’s teeth, its preference (is it picky or not), etc. Sometimes, your dog can develop stomach issues.
They can get diarrhea or can even start throwing up. The worst is when you see your dog struggling – gagging, but not throwing up. If you have a problem with this, then we prepared this article for you.
Whatever the case might be, if you feel the need to soften your dog’s food, we are here to help you and give you advice. We made a list of a couple of things that you can do to soften your dog’s food.
1. Add Water To Hard Dog Food
This is the most common way of softening food since it is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable. It is very simple, and you can’t really do anything wrong with this method.
A lot of dog owners wonder how much do you need to soak the kibble. Well, that depends on the final result you expect. If you want the kibble to soften just a bit, you can add water 15 to 25 minutes before mealtime.
If you are preparing this for your older dog or puppy, and you want it to almost turn into a paste, you will need to wait longer. An hour can be good enough since in that time, the dry kibble will double in size. But, an extra hour will make sure that the dog’s dry food absorbs all the water.
Some people like to give their dogs softened kibble just like it is, while others like to mush it with a fork to make it even easier for their dogs to eat it. You can prepare the meal a day earlier.
You can put water in a bowl with dry food, put a bag or foil over it, and put it in the fridge. That way, you are sure that the food will absorb all the water and will be ready for your dog to enjoy it.
What is also very good when mixing water with dog food is that their water intake will increase. Do this especially in the summertime. It can also help them cool down a bit.
Using Warm Water
If you use warm water, the process will be even faster because the kibble will dissolve faster due to the warmth. This way, you don’t need to wait for an hour or two. The process can be over in half an hour.
Warm water will also release a lot of aroma and flavor. When you pour it into the dog bowl, you will be able to smell the intense aroma coming from the food. This is amazing for dogs that have lost their appetite a bit, or even for picky eaters. Warm water can help release acid and enzymes that are important for the digestion process.
Make sure that you don’t use hot water, but lukewarm. If you use hot water, make sure you leave it for enough time to let it cool down or your dog might get burned.
How Much Water Do You Add?
This can depend on the amount of kibble you give to your dog. But, the ratio that is the safest is 1:1. This means that if you put a cup of kibble, you should put a cup of water.
But, as we already said, there is no way that you can mess it up. If you put a bit more water than needed, you can just drain it down. The dry kibble will absorb as much water as it can – the rest of the water will stay at the bottom of the bowl so you can just throw it out.
If you want it to be just a bit softer, it can be a bit tricky. The best way is to put a spoon or two of kibble, mix it, then wait if it will get as soft as you want it. If not, then add a spoon or two more until you get the consistency that you want.
Just make sure you remember the amount you put in so the next time will not take you long to figure it out.
For more information on how to soften food with adding water or milk to dog’s kibble, read our article on how to make puppy mush.
2. Mix Canned Food With Kibble
This can be on the more expensive side since you need to buy both dry and wet food. Canned dog food has juices that are filled with flavor and nutrients that will make your dog’s mealtime an experience.
Because of these juices, the hard dog food will turn into a soft meal. Canned dog food has higher moisture content, and a lower nutritional value. This isn’t a bad thing because most dog owners use it more for flavor rather than for nutrients.
Pet owners need to make sure that the ratio of dry and wet food is balanced. It depends on the size of the dog, the breed, its age, the dog’s health, and the dog’s diet needs. It is recommended to use the same brand for both.
Any wet canned food can be used, but the best option are those that are produced in gravy since they are the easiest to mix. Loaf-styled canned food is the worst option because it will probably have no effect on dry food.
Usually, people don’t go with this option if they have an older dog. They either go with just wet dog food and add some supplements, or kibble that is softened with water or other liquids. This option is best if you have a puppy or an adult dog that has some stomach issues.
Since canned food doesn’t have too much moisture, you can always add a bit of water to end up with the soft food of your preference. You can’t end up with a paste by just adding canned food. For this way of food softening, it is best to contact your vet and ask them for advice.
They know what the best dog food is, and the ratios that your dog needs.
3. Use Milk
When you think of milk, you usually also think of cats. But, don’t worry – most dogs love milk. This option is good because milk contains vitamins, calcium, and fatty acids that are good for your dog whatever their age might be. But, give it in smaller amounts, and not that often.
Many breeders use this option when puppies are still in their care. So, this is the best option for your puppy, especially if they have already gotten used to it.
You need to have a couple of things in mind. The process of softening can be longer when using milk since it is usually cold. The other thing is that food should be out of the fridge for a long time because it can go bad.
But, don’t worry – you can put the bowl of kibble and milk in the fridge the day before for two to three hours before giving it to your dog. This way, the dry food will absorb all the milk and it won’t go bad.
The good thing is that milk gives more flavor to food. However, if you plan to give this to your dog that has some stomach issues, it is best to check with the vet first.
Some dogs can be lactose intolerant, which could be the case with your dog. If this turns out to be the truth, it is best that your dog’s kibble is softened with water or broth. This is why you should always contact your vet before making any change to your dog’s diet.
Adding broth will make your dog feel like he is eating in a three-Michelin-star restaurant. Whether you use chicken broth, beef broth, or bone broth – they will enjoy themselves immensely. Make sure that you use natural ingredients, and try to use options that are low in sodium.
This is the best option for picky eaters and dogs with some health issues like stomach pain and dental problems. The broth is used by people when sick, so dogs will also benefit from it. Some nutrients that broth (or stock, as some people call it) contain are chondroitin glucosamine, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, and collagen.
Make sure that the broth is warm. If you have just made your broth, wait for it to cool down a bit, then add it to the food, then wait some more until it is cool enough. You can always make bigger amounts of broth and freeze it so you can use it when needed.
5. Fish Oils
This additive to your dog’s food is considered to be anti-inflammatory, which is always a good thing. Fish oils contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be super beneficial for a dog’s coat, skin condition, cognitive issues, and joint and heart problems.
Some people find the juices of canned tuna to be a good alternative if you don’t have any type of broth prepared. Just watch out that it doesn’t contain a lot of salt. The juice also contains quite some calories, so make sure that dog meals don’t turn into calorie bombs.
If you choose this option, but you aren’t sure how much oil to put in your dog’s food, the best advice we can give you is to call the vet.
This is an ingredient that most people don’t use to soften pet food. But, yogurt has some beneficial ingredients like vitamins, proteins, minerals, and antioxidants that are amazing for your dog’s health.
Most yogurts have lower levels of lactose, which is beneficial for dogs that have issues with digesting it. Always introduce them slowly to products like yogurt because you never know how your dog’s body will respond to it.
The best option you can give your dog is plain Greek yogurt, especially the one with live cultures. It has a low lactose percentage, and no artificial chemicals like sweeteners.
7. Warm Rug
This might sound unusual, but this is a good way to soften either dog food or kibbles, especially for dogs that have bad teeth and a sensitive stomach. Take a treat or some kibble and put it on a wet and warm rug.
Make sure that you wrap up the food very well so there is no way for air to penetrate the food. This won’t make your treats or food extra soft, but it will for sure make it a lot softer.
You can also use paper towels, but we don’t recommend this. Because of the moisture, the paper will get wet and start to break, and it will leave your dog’s food with traces of paper on it.
8. Zip-Lock Bags
All you need is a Zip-Lock bag, a piece of paper, or a piece of bread. You put the amount of food you need in the bag together with a damp paper towel. Instead of the towel, you can put in a piece of bread.
Make sure that the paper towel isn’t too wet. After that, you seal the bag and leave it overnight so your dog will have prepared meals for the next day. You don’t want to leave the food in the bag for more than 24 hours.
It could get really soggy, which allows bacteria to gather. The best is to take it out of the bag after the night.
Can You Microwave Dog Food To Soften It?
Yes – this is one of the ways you can soften your dog’s food or treats. It will not soften to the point where it turns into mush, but it will for sure make it easier for your dog to eat it.
The best way is to take a damp rag and wrap the food up in it. Then, put it in the microwave on low heat for two or three minutes. If you don’t get the results you wanted, you can always repeat the process a couple of times.
Can You Give Your Senior Dog Wet Puppy Food?
Yes, you can, but the best thing is to check with your vet first. Puppy food usually has a lot of nutrients while food for adult dogs has much less. The reason why is that puppies need a lot more nutrients and calories for them to grow up and develop properly.
Because of this, it’s sometimes hard to assess if you are giving your senior dog too many calories. However, this is a good combination if you have a slim dog that needs to put on a bit of weight.
To Sum It Up
As a dog owner myself, I can guarantee that whatever option you choose for softening your dog’s food is good. This affordable and easy way to help your senior dog or puppy (or sick dog) to eat is all you need and more.
Food with a lot of flavor and food that is easy to chew all in one package is something your dog will not be able to refuse so don’t stress about it too much.
We surely hope we have answered the question of how to soften dog food with all the right answers, and that this will help you with any dilemma you might have. If you are not sure what option is the best one for your dog, you can always contact your vet and ask for help.
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