As humans, we sometimes like to give our water a little punch by adding the squeeze of a lemon or a couple of cucumbers. When we’re stressed, we often turn to something relaxing, like chamomile tea.
When it comes to doggie beverages, however, plain water has long been the signature drink. But these days, pet parents are adding water enhancers to their dogs’ dishes. Like chamomile tea, they boast flavor and may have some emotional and functional benefits. Ocean Spray’s Lighthouse Innovation Incubator recently launched a line, Tally-Ho. Others, like Oraltene and Nulo Hydrate, purport to help dogs with everything from oral health to strength
Santi Proano, Co-Developer of Tally-Ho and Director of Lighthouse Innovation at Ocean Spray, spilled on everything you need to know about the water enhancer trend.
Why use water enhancers?
We like to give our dogs a little of what we have — whether that’s a bite of pumpkin or holistic food. Though there aren’t wide-scale, peer-reviewed studies on water enhancers like Tally-Ho, the company says clinical trials have shown benefits like boosting the immune system, calming dogs and making their breath smell better.
For Santi, it’s not just about the functional but the emotional and bonding aspect too. For example, having a cup of tea while your dog drinks a chicken-flavored emotional health water enhancer gives you both the opportunity to chill together with a beverage.
“It was something people had for themselves and wanted for their dogs,” Santi says. “It was us combining what we heard with a fun-and-easy way for the dog to enjoy it.”
In addition to emotional health, Tally-Ho’s line includes an oral health enhancer, which tastes like mint and has zinc. It gives the pup fresh breath and makes cuddle time more pleasant for humans who may love their furry friend but prefer not to smell what they ate for dinner. There’s also a salmon flavored immune health option.
“Functionally, it helps fuel immune system response,” Santi says. “Emotionally, it’s about tackling new experiences with your dog because you are helping fuel their immune system.”
How to choose a water enhancer for your dog
Start by thinking about what your goals are or think your pet could use and talk with your vet before adding anything new to your dog’s diet. Then, it’s as simple as giving it a try and seeing what works.
Label-conscious pet parents can look at the ingredients or call the company. Santi suggests treating it the same as going grocery shopping for yourself. “[Look for] a short ingredient line that [you can] understand,” he says.
When to stop using a water enhancer
Using water enhancers should be a fun bonding experience for you and your pup. Don’t force it. If the dog stops drinking the water or you don’t feel like he’s getting the benefits, stop using it. Remember, they are not pills; they are supplements, which Santi believes is one of the appeals of water enhancers.
“A lot of what we found is that, particularly when it comes to the emotional and calming products, it felt like you were forcing your dog to take something like you were hiding something … that’s one of the big reasons for this water enhancer,” he says. “It’s supposed to be a pleasurable experience, not a traumatic experience.”