• Maureen Ericson, M.H.


Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Our pet's health depends on us to provide the water that they need on a daily basis. Clean healthy water is essential to maintaining a healthy body for all living creatures. Without it their bodies cannot flush out poisonous toxins, build healthy blood cells, maintain healthy vital organs or maintain proper hydration for all living cells. In other words we can’t survive without water!

Some animals consume more than others depending on their species and the food they eat. For some their water intake is provided in the foods they eat, especially those that live in the wild. It is in the grasses they forge on or in the animals that they eat. Raw meat provides large amounts of moisture to the carnivore animal helping to maintain the water balance in their bodies. Long ago dogs and cats were still hunting while they lived along side of their human companions. Cats were able to roam the barnyard catching their prey and dogs were thrown scraps of meat and bones from the hunting trip, all providing moisture in their foods. These animals lived healthier lives due to the diet that they ate that was closer to their wild ancestral diets.

Unlike today most of our animals are fed dry baked food that is fast and easy to feed and lacking in any form of moisture, let alone proper nutrients. The water bowl is the animal’s only source of water for them. For many of them that bowl is the only bowl for more than one dog or cat in the house to use. Their source of water can be depleted easily from the group or simply not used by the cat because they don’t like standing water. So if there is not enough water or moisture the animal’s health starts to decline due to dehydration leading to kidney, urinary and digestive issues for them. Now let’s add in the fact that their bodies need water to break down that dry kibble food, but have no additional water added to it. Their bodies now need to take all of the excess water in their body to digest that food. They are already dehydrated and their food just adds to the lack of water crisis.

I am a big advocate of adding water to the food bowl for all diets, raw or dry kibble food. This gives the additional water necessary to break down and digest the food properly. Each feeding gives more moisture to protect their vital organs giving them healthier lives. This is especially helpful for cats, which are not big water drinkers and are at higher risk for kidney, urinary and liver diseases that kill them. It may take awhile to get the cat use to eating wet food so switch them to wet canned food and add more water to it. Starting animals young with wet food is the best way to raise them, but it is never too late to start adding water to their food.

The biggest question I always hear from my clients is how much water to add to their food? Here is my answer: If you feed raw cover the raw meat with water and give it to the pet. But if you feed dry kibble you must pour out the kibble about 10 minutes before serving and cover the food with water, then leave it on the counter for that time to absorb the water. You will be very surprised to see how much that food expands in the bowl as it absorbs the water. That is exactly what is happening in your pet’s stomach without the additional water added. That water is coming from their body and will take longer to digest let alone robbing valuable moisture from your pet’s body. After the 10 minutes is up cover the food again with more water that now adds the extra moisture that they need to digest the food. This is the bowl that you feed the animal with.

For cats I recommend switching them away from dry kibble to a raw or wet canned food diet with additional water added. Cats are obligate carnivores that need moist protein and essential enzymes that they get from the meat provided. I truly believe that kibble food can cause kidney and urinary damage in many cats. To help eliminate that risk I recommend switching their food immediately.

In summary Water is a crucial element to maintaining good healthy living for your animals. So don’t forget to fill the food and water bowl with Water!!

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