Does Fido need to lose a few pounds? How about Kitty — does she just laze about 24 hours a day? Researchers at the University of Illinois recently found that feeding cats smaller, more frequent meals of moist food (some were simply fed kibble with water added to it) led to greater activity with all the cats and even weight loss in chunky ones. This makes sense, after all, dogs and cats who eat kibble are usually chronically dehydrated (a lot of moisture is needed to digest dry food). Because water is necessary for organs to function properly, an adequate amount of moisture in the diet usually results in a a happy, calm, and more energetic dog or cat. And smaller, regular meals throughout the day tends to curb binge eating.

Here are some easy ways to improve your pet’s hydration:

  • A diet of reconstituted freeze dried or dehydrated food such as Grandma Lucy’s is a great way to add moisture to the diet.
  • Add canned food your dog’s kibble. Some food such as Weruva are more of a stew, giving them a higher moisture content than a pate style food.
  • Add a low sodium or salt-free broth to kibble to may your own stew. Even better — make your broth by slow cooking some beef, chicken, or turkey bones.
  • Last, but not least: add some water to the kibble. It’s one form of hydration that’s almost always available.

Try to wash and refill your pet’s water bowl a couple of times a day, especially in warmer weather. Not only will that ensure plenty of water, but you’ll prevent an accumulation of food debris, bacteria, dust, and pollen, which is what leads to slimy algae growth at the bottom of the bowl. Pollutants in the water can stimulate an immune response to environmental allergens.

It’s a good idea to have a collection of food and water bowls that can be rotated through the dishwasher to prevent bacteria build up. Dishwasher safe Fiesta bowls are not only attractive but they help moderate the temperature of their contents, keeping water cooler and food a little fresher. If stainless steel bowls are more your preference then the Durapet bowls might be perfect for you. They are heavy duty, dishwasher safe, and have a permanently molded rubber ring on the bottom to prevent sliding, plus they come with a lifetime guarantee.

When dishing up your dog or cat’s food use a standard measure, or better yet weigh out the correct amount. If you’re feeding a new food be sure to read the feeding guidelines. Calories per cup vary between formulas, and often even within the same brand of food. Two common mistakes lead to over- or under-feeding: estimating the serving size and using the same measure for different brands of food.