Pet owners are typically keyed into the needs of their pet, such as cleaning the litter box, going out for walks, and providing food and water at scheduled meal times. However, this time of year, you might be filling up the water bowl more than usual – and for good reason. Pet dehydration is a very serious threat to overall health, but as the weather creeps into the triple digits, how much water does your pet truly need?
A sudden increase or decrease in water consumption can signal various pet health problems, such as kidney disease, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, leptospirosis, or hypothyroidism. Getting a handle on your pet’s water consumption is ideal to rule out both health problems and to ascertain whether he or she is staying hydrated.
- Measure out daily required water amounts
- Fill the bowl every morning and record how much is left at the end of the day
- Make notes regarding frequency and quality of physical exertion and compare them with quantity consumed
The amount your individual pet needs to drink is based on his or her species, breed, age, size, lifestyle, and climate.
General guidelines are:
- .5 oz to 1 ounce of water daily per pound of body weight (dogs)
- 3-6 ounces of water every day (cats)
Pet Dehydration and Food
A wet or canned food diet is moisture-rich in comparison to dry kibble. In fact, most canned pet foods contain approximately 80 percent water. This type of food can help prevent pet dehydration, but your pet’s water dish may continue to look full. On especially hot days, encourage your pet to take more drinks, offer frozen pet treats, and provide water for your pet to play in outside.
- Dry mouth or tacky gums
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of skin elasticity (pinch the back of the shoulder blades; if the skin does not immediately return to normal after release, your pet is likely suffering from dehydration)
- Breathing problems
- Reduced urine/bowel volume and frequency
- Elevated heart rate
- Reduced body temperature
- Water seeking behavior (do not allow your pet to drink from standing water, gardening beds, pools, puddles, and other potentially harmful places that harbor bacteria, chemicals, mold, and parasites)
Pets at Risk
Pet dehydration is a threat to all pets. Because dehydration occurs when an animal loses body fluids faster than they can be replaced, those who physically exert themselves need extra care. Take water with you on long walks, take frequent breaks, and try to only walk in shady or grassy areas.
Young pets, senior pets, brachycephalic breeds, and those with health conditions should also be watched closely for water intake. Limit exposure to the high heat by remaining indoors throughout the middle of the day. Air conditioning, fans, and plenty of water placed throughout the home can all reduce the risk of pet dehydration.
Maintaining the Status Quo
Water makes up 70 to 80 percent of your pet’s body mass and helps maintain cellular functions. The good news is that pet dehydration is preventable, and we’re here to help you reach the goal of optimal pet health. Please call us with any questions or concerns regarding pet dehydration. Cheers!