How To Soften Dog Food

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Ashley Marlton
Ashley Marlton
Dr. Marlton spent her first two years in practice working as a veterinary assistant at a 24-hour emergency care animal hospital in Michigan prior to moving to Miami. Following graduation, Dr. Marlton attended Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biochemical Sciences in Fort Collins while participating in volunteer spay neuter trips.
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Kibble is known for its extended shelf life and significant nutritional benefits, making it the preferred choice for most dogs. However, this belief may not always hold true. If you’re thinking about transitioning to canned food, be aware that it usually comes at a higher cost.

Softening dry food can be a win-win situation for you and your dog. So, in this article, you will be able to know a couple of ways to soften your pup’s food.

What Happens When Dogs Cannot Eat Dry Food?

Dry kibble has its benefits. Apart from the fact that it costs less than canned dog food and does not require refrigeration, experts say it also helps keep your dog’s mouth healthy by minimizing plaque and tartar buildup. However, some dogs dislike dry food as eating such will sometimes cause painful sensations when chewing, especially to an older dog. This is due to the fact that just like people, as your furry friend ages, they tend to develop dental issues and sensitive teeth and gums. The same consequences apply to dogs that have bad teeth condition.

Regardless of age, dogs may suffer from teeth infections or your dog’s teeth may have a crack or are missing – eating dry food their entire life will be more than just a task and can be very painful for them. In some instances, your veterinarian may require your dog to switch from canned dog food to dry kibble as many medical and diet food is in the form of dry food. If your pet is accustomed to eating dog food from the can, then you will have a hard time letting your dog eat dry food. Additionally, wet food is quite different from dry food as it is less dense, containing 75% water in every ration. In essence, dogs that cannot eat dry food will not be able to get the nutrients it needs, and in the long run, it would result to health problems that might be hard to revert.

An Owner Pouring The Best Dog Food

Important Things To Consider

There are few things that you need to consider before selecting the right softening method you will use to soften your dog’s dry food. Essentially, these factors may help you choose the right softening method with respect to their health condition requirements, their dietary requirements, and some other factors.

Your Dog’s Health Needs

Your dog’s overall health comes first before considering the right method to soften your dog’s food. For instance, if your dog is on a very strict diet and should not take on additional calories, you probably do not what to choose the method that would not add to your dog’s weight. The ideal option, in this case, would be the warm water method as it would not ruin your dog’s diet.

Contrarily, if your dog needs more calories, vitamins, and minerals, you may deliberately experiment with different methods to soften dry dog food that adds up to the micro and macronutrients in your dog’s diet. An example of this is adding milk to the dog food. Not only will it improve the taste of dry pet food, but it will also add up to the nutrients in your dog’s food. To make sure that your dog’s health needs are met, you can ask for some veterinary advice before switching to any diet.

Your Pet’s Preferred Diet

Generally, a senior dog that struggles to eat any dry kibble would be very delighted to have a soft meal like canned dog food before them. However, in another context, some dogs are naturally picky eaters, they often refuse to eat anything unless it is in accordance with their own liking. Hence, you need to take into consideration your pet’s preferences when choosing the right method for softening dry food.

Milk That Can Cause Weight Gain

Adding flavor to your dog’s food is ideal when you try to soften the food of your pup. For instance, warm water is effective in softening the kibble and bring out its natural aroma but does not add any additional flavor to the food. While if you soften the food with beef, chicken or bone broth, milk, or canned food, it will most likely be more appealing for your picky eater.

Your Budget

You might also want to take into account your allotted budget for your dog. If you plan to soften your dog’s meals, you do not want to spend all your fortune. As dog owners, you can do your diligent research and look for the best softening method that fits your budget. In essence, you should not spend more than what you can afford.

Plan Your Timing

Ultimately, no matter what food softening method you choose, it is vital that you plan the best timing. With that being the case, you need to make sure that you time the softening process to go smoothly with your dog’s feeding time, for you not to disrupt your dog’s feeding schedule. Although kibbles are naturally porous, it would take some time to absorb the water so it is highly recommended that you prepare your dog’s food, prior to the feeding schedule. A piece of advice to dog owners like you, it is best to give yourself extra time in order to ensure that your dog gets fed on schedule. [1]

Pouring Water Into The Mix

Methods To Soften Dog Food

The following are some of our few tips that you can freely experiment with your dog’s needs. You might want to seek veterinary guidance, in case your dog has medical issues that need to be addressed first.

Using Warm Water

Adding water is the cheapest and the easiest way to moisten dry food. If your dog has dental problems, it is ideal to add water to your dog’s kibble and turn it into a soft food, to deal with the problem. Moreover, water has the added benefit of releasing flavor and aroma that may entice your dog to eat. The process of turning your dog’s hard food into a wet paste is easier if you add warm water.

Begin by adding just a few tablespoons of warm water to your pets’ food or just take about a ¼ cup of filtered water and add it to the top of the bowl of kibble to moisten. Slowly add water to prevent soaking the food. Be sure there’s plenty of room in the bowl too. You’ll be surprised how much water the kibble can absorb. You can gradually add more water depending on your preference. Remember that transitioning from wet food requires gradual changes and immediately soaking dry food is not a good idea.

Boosting The Flavor With Broth

It is ideal to add broth to the hard foods that you feed your dog as it adds more flavor to it. The type of broth that you may add to your dog’s foods may vary from beef broth, chicken broth, or bone broth. This method is ideal for dogs that are quite picky and won’t eat a meal that isn’t tasty as they expect it to be. If you don’t have access to an all-natural chicken, bone, or beef broth, you can simply have a canned tuna juice as its close substitute.

As responsible pet owners, it is important that you use low sodium broth since too much salt can cause serious illnesses. In addition, while the aroma, taste, shape, and consistency will be enticing to your pup, you’ll want to ensure the ratio of the broth mix is healthy for the weight, size, and age of your pup. To be sure, always consult your veterinarian.

Chicken Broth To Add Flavor

Adding Milk

Like other animals, most dogs love milk. A kibble that is moistened with the use of milk is quite popular for breeders that want to feed their newborn pups. Adding milk to the food of your dog will enhance the flavor of the kibble, enticing your dog to eat food. It is also recommended to place the kibble and milk mixture in a fridge hours before dinner time. This will give the food plenty of time to soften.

Make sure to check with your vet first for the proper dosage or if your pup is even allowed to have one in the first place as some dogs are lactose intolerant. If your dog suffers from this, the milk mix can cause loose stool, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upset.

Mixing Canned Food With Kibble

As for the last option in this list, you may mix canned food – with high moisture content – to make a soft and delicious kibble meal for your dog. Having this option, you might want to consult your veterinarian first since you need to know whether the two dog foods complement each other. To make things healthy, you might need to have some adjustments since canned food or other pre-moisten food contains lesser nutrients. Your vet can give you more insight regarding the best food that goes well together.

Wet Canned Food

Why Soften Dog Food

Apart from the idea that older dogs need soft adult dog food for easier chewing, here are other reasons why you need to soften your dog food.

  • Your dog can easily absorb essential nutrients and requires lesser time to digest the dog food.
  • It improves circulation.
  • Dogs find it more appealing to their taste buds.
  • Prevents you to buy canned food that costs a lot of money
  • It addresses the problem of dehydration caused by lesser water intake
Dog Given Kibble With Various Tastes

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to moisten dry dog food?

Yes, you can moisten dry dog food. Adding moisture to your dog’s food, particularly dry kibble, makes it easier to chew, especially if your dog faces some medical issues that prevent them from eating properly. This will also make the food more palatable for picky eaters.

How can I improve my dry dog food?

You can improve your dry dog food by simply adding water, broth, milk, or wet foods. Adding liquid brings out more flavor and aroma from the dry food, broth and milk add flavor while softening it while wet foods help unaccustomed dogs get used to the flavor of the dry food.

How do you soften a dog’s dental chews?

Steaming can be a good way to soften your dog’s dental chews. You can do this by wrapping a damp paper towel to it and warm them with low heat in the microwave.

Is dry dog food harder to digest?

Yes, dry dog food can be harder to digest, with respect to wet canned dog foods. Another factor that can also affect the digestibility of hard dog food is the ingredient used by the manufacturer. You should that not all dog foods are created the same. Generally, cheap dog foods are hard to digest since it uses components like corn that your dog cannot easily digest.


As a general rule, you don’t have to eliminate dry food in your dog’s diet to get them to eat the nutrients that they need. With the right method, you can effectively transform hard kibbles into a soft meal that your dog would like. In the course of improving your dog’s meal, you can always talk to knowledgeable individuals that can provide veterinary advice for you and for your dog.

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