Animals, like humans, can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Proper hydration helps maintain a normal body temperature. It aids in digesting and absorbing nutrients from food, and removing waste products through the urinary tract and bowel. It may be the most important nutrient you can provide for your best friend.
“Does your pet have a drinking problem?”
I saw that question on a flyer provided by PetSafe, a manufacturer of electronic pet training products. As part of their efforts to help pet owners keep their best friends safe and healthy, they warn that proper hydration for our furry buddies is as necessary for their well-being as it is for ours.
While our human bodies may be comprised of 60% water, for some pets, that number can be as high as 80%. Water is necessary for the animal’s system to function properly.
According to PetSafe, a pet needs about one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. For an 8-pound cat, that’s one glass of water every day. For an 80-pound dog, that’s ten glasses of water – every day. Canned pet food can provide some of the water an animal needs, but nowhere near enough, especially during the hot summer months.
Dehydration is as dangerous for our four-footed friends is as it is for us. But how can you tell if your pet is dehydrated? There are some general symptoms, like sunken eyes, loss of energy, no appetite, panting, depression, elevated heart rate – or poor skin elasticity.
You can test the skin with your thumb and forefinger by pinching up a small amount of it on the animal’s back. It should snap back quickly. If not, your pet may be dehydrated.
Dehydration can be a medical emergency requiring a veterinary examination and treatment which could include IV fluids. The best medicine is to prevent the problem by making sure your pet has clean fresh water at all times. Wash the water bowl to keep it bacteria-free. Maybe down put more than one bowl, in different places around the house. Some animals prefer moving water, from the tap or from one of those pet fountains you see at a pet supply store.
July is National Pet Hydration Awareness Month, a time to encourage pet owners to think about their animals’ water intake, especially during summer heat. When you get hot and reach for that bottle of water, remember your best friend needs to stay hydrated, too, when you’re speaking of pets.