The Importance of Moisture in a Pet’s Diet
The amount of moisture our pets drink is important. I’m referring to normal, everyday consumption. In general, I do not think that pets get enough moisture in their everyday life. Why? Dry kibble absorbs moisture and is hard to digest. A pet that wolfs down food will often cough it up, almost entirely dry, because the kibble gets stuck in the esophagus. The accumulation of food in the esophagus can be painful.
Additionally, pets that suffer from stones likely do not drink enough water. Water dilutes the toxins and reduces the overall accumulation of solids in the urine through dilution. Dilution makes all toxins less toxic. Water for our pets (and for us for that matter) is very important.
Cats in particular having evolved from a desert environment are really prone to poor hydration because we feed kibble dry. Why? It’s all about convenience. Let’s consider how most of us feed our pets. We put food in a bowl and leave it there so our pets can eat whenever they please. Now I’m going to tell you the reasons that this might not be such a good idea.
In talking to many people over the years with pets that have crystals in their urine, it seems vets want to push a lifetime subscription to veterinary foods. In many cases this is unnecessary. I’ve never heard anyone say the clinic recommended increasing the moisture content of the animal’s food. I’m sure it happens. I’m sure there’s a vet out there somewhere with enough clinical sense to treat the underlying source of the problem, but I don’t think it happens often enough.
I tell people to add a little low sodium chicken or beef broth to moisten food. Don’t make it a soup. This improves both palatability and the moisture content, thereby diluting solids that accumulate in the urine and decreasing the likelihood of urinary tract infections.
Another problem I’ve observed is that as pets get older they seem to drink less water. I can’t prove this with anything other than personal experience. Less water at any age means increased the urine solids and increased crystals formation.
Stick to moistening the kibble with chicken or beef broth. Serve only as much moistened food as your pet would eat in a single serving. Erring on the side of moisture can do no harm. Prevention is always the best medicine. At the very least, your pet will think the food tastes better.