Importance of hydration
About 80% of your pet’s body is made up of water. This water is essential for caring out vital processes such as circulation and digestion. To keep these processes running smoothly a typical pet will drink about an ounce of water per pound of fat a day.
However, depending on his level of activity and the amount of time spent outside, in the summer he may drink up to 3-5 ounces per pound of fat. Losing as little as 5% of body water can slow down the vital processes keeping him alive and losing 10% can begin to shut them down. Now that you know why hydration is important, how can you get him to drink more water?
How to stay hydrated
The easiest way to keep your pal hydrated is to give him access to fresh, filtered water. Studies have shown that pets are enticed to drink more when they are presented with fresh, filtered water. An easy way to give your pet filtered water is by using a Drinkwell® fountain.
By using a patented free-falling stream of water, the Drinkwell fountain continually filters your pet's water. An extra-large charcoal filter removes bad tastes and odors, giving your pet the best possible, and most appealing, way to stay hydrated! A gravity water system, like the Healthy Pet Water Station™ system, is also a great solution to your pet’s water needs.
Gravity systems are like water coolers at work. Water flows from the system’s water jug into your pet’s bowl giving him the water he needs, when he needs it. Plus, you can buy water filters for many of the gravity systems allowing your dog cleaner, healthier water. If your pet is still not getting enough water and he eats dry food, you may want to switch to wet food when it is hot out.
Wet food has most moisture than dry so he’ll be getting more water from his food. If your dog is able to eat wet food and you can afford to switch over for a few months, you may find that your dog is able to stay hydrated longer. Finally, you can keep him hydrated by keeping him cool. Let your pet enjoy the great outdoors in the morning, early afternoon or as the sun begins to go down.
It is typically the hottest from noon to about 4:30 p.m. The hotter it is, the fast he will dehydrate. Even if your pet stays indoors all day, he is still at risk. To save money on the electric bill, most people don’t leave their AC on all day. If your pet is at home while your air conditioning is off, make sure you give him some way to stay cool. Whether you time your unit to turn on throughout the day or keep your pet in a room with fans, spending a few extra dollars each month to make sure your pet isn’t over heating is cheaper than the medical bill you’ll have to pay if he does.
Signs of dehydration
Even if you think your pet is getting enough water, he could still become dehydrated. Look for signs of lethargy, sunken eyes, loss of appetite, dry mouth, depression and diarrhea. Take your pet to the vet immediately if you see these signs or believe your pet is dehydrated. If your dog is not overweight or very skinny there is an at home test you can do to get a better idea of whether or not your pet is dehydrated.
Gently lift the skin on the back of your dog’s neck or between the shoulder blades. The skin should immediately return to its normal position. Dehydration takes away some of the skin’s elasticity so if your pet is dehydrate the skin should stay bunched instead of going back to it’s normal position. However, if your pet’s skin does go back down and he is showing the systems listed above, it is crucial that you get him to a vet. Photo by Michelle Feldman