While there are many factors that go into choosing a dog or cat food, one that is not commonly discussed is moisture content.
As discussed in our post on dehydration, even if you see your pet frequently lapping up from the water bowl, there’s a good chance he isn’t getting adequate water. Thankfully, feeding a high-moisture diet can ensure your pet is properly hydrated.
Why is hydration important?While we all know proper hydration is just plain good for your pet, did you also know it plays a key role in healthy bodily functions? Proper hydration is key to:
- Maintaining stable, normal body temperature
- Aiding digestion; getting food through the body and helping it absorb
- Lubricating healthy joints (especially important for large breeds and senior pets)
- Ensuring critical organs, like kidneys, operate at their optimal function
My pet drinks lots of water. Does that mean they are adequately hydrated?
Not necessarily. Think about the direct ancestors of our pets- wolves and large cats: their diet consisted of live prey made up of at least 60% moisture.
Your pet's little body requires a similar level of hydration. But, there’s a pretty good chance your pet isn’t drinking enough water to reach that level even on the healthiest kibble diet.
Additionally, according to our Seattleite friends at All the Best Pet Care, “digestion is a moisture intensive process, from saliva to gastric juices, and the body will pull it from other tissues and organs if necessary, leaving less temporarily for flushing toxins and general hydration.” This is especially critical for our kitty friends, who can have a notoriously low thirst drive. So, their hydration will need to come from other sources, like their food.
So, what is a high moisture diet?
There are many high quality, complete and balanced diets that have a higher moisture content than traditional kibble, including:
- Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, such as Tucker's, that are rehydrated by adding water.
- Canned foods, like FirstMate, RAWZ, and Lotus
- Raw diets, including freeze-dried varieties, like Northwest Naturals, Primal, Stella & Chewy’s and The Bones & Co.
What’s wrong with dry kibble?
Absolutely nothing! There are many excellent kibbles available in today’s pet food market - these are our favorite brands. That being said, most kibbles only have a moisture content of approximately 10%, which is simply not enough when fed alone.
How can I add extra moisture to my pet’s diet?If you’re looking for simple ways to increase your pets moisture intake, try:
- Topping a bowl of kibble with bone broth, canned food, freeze-dried (make sure to rehydrate!), or raw nuggets
- Giving your pet a raw, frozen bone as a treat
- Pouring a little raw, unpasteurized goat’s milk over any bowl of food, which is at least 79% moisture
- Add a splash of no-salt-added homemade or high-quality chicken or bone broth to entice them with that extra, meaty flavor (avoid 'stocks' as these are typically steeped with onion, which is dangerous for dog consumption).