Your pet may instinctively drink more water on a hot day – or not. There are several important elements that, when aligned, contribute to a fine balance of health. One of these is, of course, water consumption. As the days grow hotter, so does your pet’s internal temperature. Without paying close attention to how much water your pet is drinking, pet dehydration is a real risk.

How Much is Enough?

Water makes up 70-80% of your pet’s body mass and helps maintain cellular functions. The actual amount of water your pet needs depends on his her breed, weight, age, lifestyle, and exposure to outside elements.

Generally speaking:

  • Dogs need at least ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight
  • Cats should have about 3-6 ounces of water daily

The Stuff of Life

Sharp changes in water consumption can signal several health issues. Kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, and leptospirosis are often diagnosed after obvious decreases or increases in water intake. Measuring water every day and watching your pet drink will help. Also:

  • Fill the water container every day with the amount you want your pet to drink.
  • Measure how much is left at the end of the day, and replace with clean, fresh water.
  • Observe how often your pet drinks.
  • Limit physical exertion in the middle of the day when heat stroke is more likely.
  • Always offer water after walks and exercise.

What About Canned Food?

Canned food has higher moisture content than dry, crunchy kibble. Offering this to your pet guarantees he or she is getting more water (in fact, 80% more water than dry food), but that may affect how much actual water is taken in.

Hot, Hot, Hot

Frozen pet treats are appreciated anytime, but they’re especially helpful on a hot day. Not only pleasing to the senses, frozen treats or tasty ice blocks can help your pet cool down and keep pet dehydration at bay.

Does Pet Dehydration Affect All?

Pet dehydration can certainly affect all animals, but some are more at risk than others. Young pets, senior pets, brachycephalic breeds, and those with pre-existing health problems are more prone to dehydration.

Because pet dehydration occurs when an animal loses fluid faster than it can be replaced, pets who work hard or physically exert themselves in the heat are at higher risk. Please take extra water with you on long walks or when splashing about in pools. Also, take frequent breaks in the shade. Air conditioning, fans, and other comforts will go a long way to preventing pet dehydration.

Danger Signs

It’s imperative that signs of pet dehydration are never overlooked. Please call us immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Dry mouth or tacky gums
  • Lethargy
  • 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)
  • Restlessness
  • 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 like pools, puddles, or other potentially harmful places that harbor bacteria, chemicals, mold, and parasites)

The good news is that pet dehydration is preventable. Please let us know if you need extra help to ensure your pet’s safety and wellbeing. Have a great summer!