Easy-Peasy Guide: How to Make Dog Food Soft?

A dog’s diet is extremely important for its overall health and well-being. While dry kibble may seem convenient, it can be challenging for some dogs to chew and properly digest. Soaking or softening dry dog food before serving can make mealtimes easier and more enjoyable for your furry friend.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about softening commercial dry food for dogs. You’ll learn the benefits of feeding softened kibble, methods to soften dog food properly, and what to consider when doing so, along with tips and precautions.

Whether your pooch has dental issues, is a fussy eater, or is a senior, this guide will make preparing soft and tasty dog food an easy task!

Interesting Facts on Diabetes in Dogs

Fact 1: Over 80 million dogs are kept as pets in the United States. Ensuring they eat right is a major responsibility for pet parents.
Fact 2: Studies show that close to 60% of dogs over the age of 3 years have some form of dental disease. Chewing hard dry food can become painfully difficult for them.
Fact 3: Softening dry kibble not only makes it easier to eat but also enhances palatability. The aroma and taste created by adding warm water or broth entices fussy eaters.
Fact 4: Most veterinarians recommend soaking dry dog food to facilitate chewing and aid digestion in dogs with dental issues or gastrointestinal problems.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Soften Dog Food?

Transitioning your dog to softened food from plain dry kibble provides several benefits:

Makes Eating Less Painful

Dry dog food can be quite hard on your dog’s teeth. For senior dogs or dogs with dental problems, chewing kibble may cause pain and discomfort. Simply pouring some warm water or broth over kibble softens it up, making it easier for dogs with sore teeth or gums to chew and swallow.

Tastier Flavor

Dry dog food on its own tends to be quite bland. Adding some wetness through water, broth or gravy makes the food aromatic, enhancing its flavor. This makes mealtimes more interesting!

Better Digestion

Hard dry kibble requires more chewing time. Eating softened food is easier on your dog’s digestive system. The additional moisture also aids digestion and nutrient absorption. Senior dogs benefit greatly from having properly softened food.

Benefits Soft Dog Food Dry Dog Food
Ease of Eating Easier for dogs with dental issues Can be hard for some dogs
Digestibility Easier to digest Can be harder to digest
Flavor Enhanced flavor Less flavorful
Nutrient Absorption Higher Lower


Your Dog’s Health Needs

To determine if your dog needs softened dog food, consider your dog’s:

Dental Health

If your dog has had dental surgery, is missing teeth, or suffers from gum disease or oral pain, soft food allows comfortable eating. Consult your vet to rule out any underlying dental conditions.

Digestive Health

Dogs with gastrointestinal issues like IBD or IBS can benefit greatly from softened food. The additional moisture aids digestion. Check with your vet to identify any food intolerances.

Age Factor

Senior dogs have weaker teeth and poorer digestion. Softer food puts less strain on their aging system. Consider transitioning older dogs to moistened kibble.

5 Tricks to Soften Dry Dog Food (A Dog Owner’s Guide)

How To Soften Dry Dog Food

Transitioning your dog to softened food is quite straightforward. Here are some simple and effective methods to try:

1. Mix in a Little Warm Water

  • Slowly pour some warm water over the kibble and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The water will moisten and soften the food.
  • Start with adding 1-2 tablespoons of water per cup of kibble. Add more water if needed.
  • The water should just dampen the food and not make it soggy.

2. Mix in Some Broth

  • Instead of plain water, use chicken, vegetable, or bone broth to enhance flavor.
  • Broths add taste and aroma, making the food irresistible.
  • Pour just enough broth to coat the kibble. Too much liquid will make it messy.

3. Add Some Wet Food

  • Get canned/pouch wet dog food in the same flavor as your kibble brand.
  • Mix a spoonful or two of wet food into the kibble. This adds softness and gives a moisture boost.

4. Add a Food Topping

  • Meal toppers like yogurt, pumpkin puree, mashed fruits/veg, or cottage cheese can help soften kibble.
  • Start with a teaspoon and adjust the quantity based on your dog’s preference.
  • Vary toppings to keep your dog interested.

5. Use a Fish Supplement

  • Fish oil, salmon oil or cod liver oil supplements add omega fatty acids.
  • Drizzle a little on the kibble and let it soak in, before serving.

The Benefits of Softening Dry Dog Food

  • Relieves oral or dental pain caused by chewing hard pieces
  • Allows dogs to eat at their own pace
  • Improves digestion
  • Increases palatability – picky dogs are more willing to eat
  • Provides nutrition from toppings like yogurt -Hydrates your dog’s body effectively

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

  • Can initially create an extra mess if too much liquid is added
  • May contribute additional calories from oil, broths, or toppings
  • Spoils faster than plain dry kibble

Tips for Storing Wet or Moistened Dog Food to Prevent Bacterial Growth

  • Use an air-tight container, not the original kibble bag
  • Refrigerate softened food; use within 2 days
  • Freeze smaller portions in an ice cube tray for later
  • Discard any uneaten portion after 15-20 minutes
PRO TIP: Warm water or broth not only softens the food but also enhances its aroma, making it more appealing to dogs.

Softening Dry Dog Food: Things to Consider

When altering your dog’s diet, keep these points in mind:

Your Dog’s Preferred Diet

  • Make changes gradually over days or weeks
  • Stick to the same brand or flavor of kibble
  • Slowly adjust moisture content based on what your dog likes

Your Budget

  • Adding broths or wet food does increase the cost slightly
  • Bulk purchases of broths or toppers can save money
  • Discuss affordable diet options with your vet

Plan Your Timing

How to Soften Dry Dog Food for Seniors & Dogs with Bad Teeth

Senior dogs and dogs with dental issues or missing teeth can have difficulty chewing dry kibble. Their digestive systems may also not tolerate hard food well.

Here are some tips to soften food for them:

  • Mix warm water or broth thoroughly into the kibble. Allow to soak for 10-15 minutes. The food should be moist and soft but not soggy.
  • Canned food works well to add moisture and flavor. Select grain-free, pate-style cans. Add a spoonful to the kibble.
  • For added nutrition, top the softened kibble with a dollop of plain yogurt, mashed sweet potato, or pureed pumpkin.
  • You can make DIY bone broth using animal bones/meat simmered for hours. Use this wholesome broth to moisten food.
  • Consult your vet and transition your dog slowly over a week. Monitor to ensure the softened food suits your senior dog.
  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals. Remove uneaten food within 20 minutes.
  • Provide ample fresh water at all times to aid digestion.

With a little trial and patience, you can find the right softened food texture your senior furry friend enjoys!

How Much Water to Add to Dry Dog Food?

When moistening dry dog food, use a minimal amount of water to reach the desired softness. Here are some guidelines:

  • Start with 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) water per cup of kibble
  • Add more water a little at a time if needed
  • The kibble should be visibly moistened but not saturated
  • For broths, add 1-1.5 tablespoons (15-22 ml) broth per cup of food
  • Increase moisture if your dog prefers softer food consistency
  • Puppies and smaller dogs may need relatively more moisture than larger breeds
  • Monitor your dog’s stool – excessive water can cause diarrhea
  • Account for moisture in any wet foods, toppings, or gravies you add

Finding the right balance takes some trial and error. Adjust water content based on your dog’s comfort, health status, and preferences.

Tips for Mixing Dry and Wet Dog FoodMixing Canned Food with Dry Food

Adding some canned or pouched wet food into dry kibble is an easy way to soften and enhance your dog’s meals. Here are some tips:

  • Get wet food in the same flavor or brand as the kibble for a smooth transition.
  • Start with a teaspoon of wet food per bowl of kibble and gradually increase to 2-3 tablespoons.
  • Mix well so that the wet food evenly coats the dry pieces.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Limit the ratio to 30% wet food and 70% kibble in the long run. Too much-wet food can cause loose stool.
  • Introduce variety by rotating proteins like chicken, beef, fish, or lamb wet foods.

Boosting dry kibble with wet food adds taste, moisture, and nutrition. Just be mindful of portion size for best results.

Methods To Soften Dog Food

Using Warm Water

  • Pour hot water from the tap over the kibble, just enough to moisten it.
  • Let it soak for 5-10 minutes to soften. Fluff and serve when cooled.
  • Can also microwave kibble with water in 15-second bursts. Cool before serving.

Boosting The Flavor With Broth

  • Use chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead of plain water.
  • Broths enhance the aroma and make food tastier.
  • Refrigerate broth-soaked food for up to 2 days.

Adding Milk

  • For young puppies, mix a little milk into the kibble to soften it.
  • Adult dogs can have trouble digesting milk, so use sparingly.
  • Goat milk or lactose-free milk may be better options.

Mixing Canned Food With Kibble

  • Canned wet food adds moisture, flavor, and nutrients.
  • Combine a spoonful of grain-free canned food into the dry kibble.
  • Can freeze portions in an ice cube tray for later use.

Important Things To Consider

Rule out health problems first

Check with your vet to identify any underlying health issues like dental problems, infections, injuries, or illnesses causing pain or difficulty eating. Treating the condition is vital.

Tips and tricks for softening hard kibble

  • Use warm water, broth, or wet food to soften the kibble
  • Allow time for soaking before serving
  • Add yogurt, pureed veg, or oil for extra moisture
  • Refrigerate or freeze unused portions
  • Gradually transition over a week or more
  • Make sure your dog finishes meals within 20 minutes

What Happens When Dogs Cannot Eat Dry Food?

Dry kibble can become an issue for dogs when:

  • They have severe dental disease or very few teeth, making chewing painful or near impossible.
  • There is injury, inflammation, or infection in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
  • They suffer from gastrointestinal issues like IBD or food sensitivities aggravated by dry food.
  • Older dogs have age-related deterioration in dental and digestive health.

In such cases, vets typically recommend transitioning to:

  • Moistened or softened kibble – lets dogs eat at their own pace
  • Wet canned food – easier to swallow, digest, and chew
  • Soaked kibble blended into a gruel – makes it easier for dogs with sore mouths or throats
  • Homecooked food – fully customizable for special needs

If your dog is unable to eat any form of commercial food, your vet may prescribe an elimination trial diet or highly digestible hydrolyzed protein dog food. Failing that, they may recommend a feeding tube. The goal is to ensure your dog gets proper nutrition during the recovery period.

Is it OK to moisten dry dog food?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to moisten or soak dry kibble before serving it to your dog. In fact, adding a bit of water, broth, or wet food to dry food can make it easier for some dogs to chew and digest.

Some key advantages of moistening dry dog food are:

  • It softens the food, making it easier to chew for dogs with dental problems.
  • It enhances the aroma and taste of the food, which fussy dogs may find more enticing.
  • The added moisture aids digestion, especially important for puppies and senior dogs.
  • It prevents dogs from inhaling kibble dust, which can trigger coughing.

As long as good hygiene practices are followed, moistening provides an easy way to make dry food more appetizing and gentler on your dog’s stomach. Just be sure to discard any uneaten portion promptly. Check with your vet if your dog has any special needs.

PRO TIP: Avoid using milk to soften the dog food if your dog is lactose intolerant.

How can I improve my dry dog food?

Here are some simple ways to elevate plain dry kibble:

  • Soak in warm water or tasty broth before serving
  • Mix with a spoonful of canned dog food to add moisture
  • Top with healthy extras like chopped fruits, cooked eggs, or yogurt
  • Stir in a dollop of canned pumpkin, sweet potato, or unsweetened applesauce
  • Drizzle portions with omega-3-rich fish oil or salmon oil
  • Sprinkle on some freeze-dried raw meat or liver treats as a topper
  • Crumble on nutritional yeast, a natural probiotic supplement
  • Grate fresh carrots, green beans, or zucchini over the kibble
  • Use homemade bone broth to add flavor and nutrients
  • Pair kibble with chewy dental sticks to benefit teeth

Vary the add-ins to make things interesting. Tailor additions to your dog’s needs and health status for maximum benefit.

Tips for Softening Dog Food

How do you soften a dog’s dental chews?

Here are some tips to soften dental chews for dogs:

  • Place the chew treat in warm water or low-sodium broth for 5-10 minutes to moisten and make it softer before giving it to your dog.
  • For a flavor boost, microwave the broth for 20-30 seconds before soaking the treat. Let cool before serving.
  • If the treats are too hard, break them into smaller pieces with kitchen shears for easier chewing. Avoid sharp edges.
  • For senior dogs or dogs with sore gums, look for specially formulated soft dental chews for dogs, which are easier to compress and eat.
  • Ask your vet about prescription dental diets and treats made for dogs with dental issues. These are highly digestible and gentler on teeth.
  • Refrigerate or freeze unused portions of soaked treats in an airtight bag or container for later use.
  • Always monitor your dog while they enjoy dental chews to prevent choking hazards.

Softening makes dental care easier and safer for dogs. Supervise your pet and provide toys of appropriate size and texture.


Caring dog owners naturally want to make mealtimes as enjoyable and comfortable as possible for their furry companions. Transitioning dogs to softened food is a simple yet effective way to make eating easier on their teeth, gums, and digestion.

This guide covers a variety of methods to soften commercial dry kibble using water, broths, wet food, or healthy add-ins. Softening provides benefits for puppies, seniors, and dogs with dental issues or special needs. Paying attention to proper food handling, storage, and portion sizes is key for safety.

While checking with your vet, start the change gradually and find the right food texture your dog thrives on. Be patient and understanding of your dog’s needs. With some creativity and care, you can turn dreary kibble into a delectable softened meal they love. Your efforts will help keep your dog happy, healthy, and well-fed for years to come.


Can I make a big batch of moistened dog food for the week?

It’s best to avoid pre-moistening dog food in bulk for the whole week. Softened food spoils more quickly. For safety, moisten portions at the time of serving. Refrigerate only one or two days’ worth.

How long does pre-moistened food last?

In the refrigerator, moistened kibble will be kept for 1-2 days in an airtight container. Discard if moldy. For longer storage, freeze meal-size portions in an ice cube tray for 2-4 weeks.

Is dry dog food harder to digest?

Yes, dry dog food typically requires more chewing and takes longer to digest compared to softened or wet food. The extra moisture in softened kibble aids digestion.

Is it safe to add milk to dog food?

While some dogs tolerate milk, most adult dogs are lactose intolerant. Milk may cause digestive upset. Use lactose-free milk in moderation or avoid milk altogether. Broths are a better choice.

Can I use bone broth to soften dog food?

Yes, bone broth is a nutritious addition to soften dry dog food. Simmering bones and connective tissue in water releases gelatin, minerals, and collagen – great for dogs! Let the broth cool before mixing it into the kibble.

What is the right water-to-dry food ratio?

As a general rule, add 1-2 tablespoons of water per cup of kibble. For broth, use 1-1.5 tablespoons per cup. Increase water gradually if your dog needs softer food. Too much can cause diarrhea.

Are there any commercial soft dry dog foods available?

Some brands offer dry kibble variations specifically formulated into softer bites or smaller sizes for dogs with dental issues. Prescription dental diets are also available. Discuss options with your vet.

Can I mix wet food and dry food for my dog?

Yes, mixing a bit of wet canned food into dry kibble can add moisture, flavor, and nutrition. Limit to about 1-3 tablespoons of wet food per cup of kibble at each meal.

My dog just had dental surgery, can I pre-moisten the dry food and keep it in an air-tight container in my fridge?

Yes, this is fine for the recovery period of a week or two. Refrigerate portions daily and discard uneaten food after 15-20 minutes. Once healed, resume regular dry kibble. Always follow your vet’s advice.

What are some homemade soft dog food recipes?

Some healthy homemade recipes are steamed chicken and vegetables, beef and sweet potato stew, salmon and peas, egg noodles with cottage cheese, tofu stir fry with rice, and oatmeal with applesauce or pumpkin.

Is it important to make dog food soft?

Softer food makes eating more comfortable and enjoyable for dogs with dental disease, missing teeth, gum damage, or difficulty chewing. Softening is very beneficial for them. Check with your vet about your dog’s needs.

Can you soften dog food by boiling it?

No, avoid boiling dry dog food as the nutrients can be destroyed. Simply use warm water, broth, or wet food to soften kibble to an appropriate consistency before serving.

What are some quick ways to soften dog food?

Fast, easy ways to soften kibble include: adding warm water or broth and letting sit briefly, mixing in canned food, mashing in soaked kibble with yogurt, or stirring dog food topper gel into the dry food.

Is it necessary to soften dog food for puppies?

Puppies can usually manage dry kibble soaked in warm water or milk replacer. But for very young puppies or those with dental issues, a gruel consistency or wet food may be easier to eat. Check with your vet.