Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Water: The Relationship to Food and Exercise

Q: Do I need to add water to my dogs food?

Yes, you need to add some water to your dog’s kibble, preferably with a little canned dog meat for a gravy. I have found if you add water to their food, they are not so apt to drink a whole bunch of water after they eat. I do allow them to drink after, but I do not allow them to rough house after eating . This is the time they are to relax, they can be inside or outside, but no playing or running. It is no different that people, you would not eat full meal and then go play basketball, just common sense.

As for temperature of water…NO hot water..use tepid temperature (room temp) so it does not destroy the nutrients and probiotics that are on the food. Likewise do NOT microwave your dogs food, it will also destroy the composition of some of the nutrients. For an adult Dane I use ¾ - 1 cup of water, soup or low sodium broth to 3 cups kibble, just to give you an idea.

Q: Do I need to soak my dog’s food in warm water first, so they won’t bloat?"

Soaking your dogs food is a myth an "ole wives tale" left over from the 1960’s -70’s and often perpetuated by some of the ole timers who have not kept up with current information. Soaking kibble before serving has nothing to do with preventing bloat and in fact, in the early days of grain based foods, it actually promoted bloat. This was due to fermenting grains since the kibble sat for a while and soaked up the water, which allowed bacteria to develop, then it produced gas in the stomach! No, we do not soak any food, not even puppy food for weaning.
(See weaning feed program).

To understand the real origins of Bloat, we have to look at the environment of the gut and it’s delicate balance. We need to look at the pH of the gut and the relationship between beneficial microorganisms to pathogenic organisms. In other words, not enough good flora and fauna, and too much yeast/fungus over growth or bad bacteria disrupts the environment of the gut and is a breeding ground for bloat. The best way to explain in detail is to read this article on Bloat and Toxic Gut Syndrome.

Q: If I leave drinking water down all the time, will this cause bloat?

Always keep lots of fresh water available outside and inside so the animal knows there is water around, and is less apt to over-consume because they are worried about the fact that it might not be there when they want it…and yes, they do know if there is no water down. I have known of dogs that have been conditioned to over consume water, because the breeder restricted the water for fear of over consumption - it has the opposite effect. I have never had a dog in 33 years of owning this breed that has over consumed water as long as they are not allowed to rough house to the point of exhaustion or left in the heat too long. I am conditioned to listen to their drinking and if it varies, I stop it and/or watch for change in drinking patterns which can indicate diabetes, pyometria or other health problems!

Some breeders withhold water to house break a dog. This is cruel and ignorant. It sets up bad drinking habits (gorging) and bladder infections, potential dehydration which can cause muscle cramping. (and what is the largest muscle in the body?- the heart). I know of a whole litter of 5 week old puppies who died because the breeder was trying to keep their area clean and presentable for buyers, so she kept withholding their water. How would you like to not be able to get a drink when you wanted one?

Again use common sense. If they are playing hard and start drinking, monitor them; tell them "hey, take it easy," just a little and when they have calmed down they can have a little more.......just like a horse, you don't water a horse until it has cooled down.

I don't leave water in a crate with a puppy during the nighttime when they are sleeping, they always spill it. But during the day they have it available all the time, clean fresh non-slobber water in a stainless steel bucket, but make sure if you hook the bucket to the crate, that you use two hooks so they can‘t life up the handle and get their head caught between the handle in the bucket and strangle themselves. I also do not leave collars on the dogs outside playing or in their crates for the same reason.

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