Your Dog’s Health – Dog Hydration Tips
Summer brings to mind that we need to keep an eye on how much our dogs are drinking. It is a basic question – Are they getting enough water? How do you know? A dogs body is approximately 80% water! (Compare that to 55%-60% water makeup for humans). When it comes to your canine’s nutrition, water is even more important than protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Your dog’s body will naturally lose water all day. They lose water as they sweat through their paws and when they pant. And they lose water when they pee and poop.
Keep Plenty of Water Available
Leave the water bowl where it can easily be accessed. Since they can knock over the bowl while they’re drinking, use one that’s made to not tip and spill.
Clean the bowl daily. Refill often so the water supply stays fresh.
Whenever you and your pet are playing outdoors — especially when it’s hot — bring cool water with you for them to drink. If they stay outside on hot days, add ice to the water bowl.
Some dogs are happy to drink from the toilet. But that isn’t a clean source of water! Keep the toilet lid closed so pets stays out.
Also, pool water that contains chlorine, or even ocean-side saltwater is not good for your pets either. A little may only cause some diarrhea, but a lot can be harmful. Redirect your pet to the fresh water alternative.
How Much Water Is Enough?
Dog hydration tips – A good rule of thumb: Make sure your dog gets at least 1 ounce of water daily for each pound they weigh. That means a 60-pound canine needs at least 60 ounces of water every day. That’s almost half a gallon.
To help you keep track of how much water they drink, make a note of how high you fill their water bowl and how far the level has dropped the next day.
What Happens When They Don’t Get Enough Water?
Dog hydration tips – Dehydration in dogs occurs when the body loses more fluid than it’s taking in. All mammals rely on water to keep their bodies functioning properly, and dogs are no exception. In fact, water is necessary to virtually every important body function, including lubricating joints, cushioning internal organs, aiding digestion, and regulating body temperature. When we think of nutrition, we generally think of food. But water is a critically necessary ingredient that allows the cells in your dog’s body to absorb nutrients.
Causes of Dehydration in Dogs
Lack of water intake can cause dehydration, which can occur if they doesn’t have proper access to water or won’t drink enough. Whether you’re at home or gone for part of the day, be sure to leave enough water so your pet will not run out.
Acute attacks of vomiting and diarrhea, heat stroke, or illnesses and a fever may also cause a dog to become dehydrated. Puppies, senior dogs, nursing mothers, and toy dog breeds may have an increased risk of dehydration. Sometimes dehydration in dogs is a symptom of an underlying cause, including these diseases or conditions: kidney disease, diabetes, or some types of cancer.
Dog hydration tips – There are some dogs who just won’t drink much water unless they are encouraged to do so. Or they are exercising outside to the point where they are panting and therefore losing fluids.
What Are the Symptoms of Canine Dehydration?
So, how can you tell if your dog is dehydrated? Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us they’re thirsty, but knowing the signs of dehydration can help dog owners respond quickly and also catch potential serious medical conditions before they become life-and-death emergencies. According to Dr. Jerry Klein, the AKC’s chief veterinary officer and an expert in veterinary emergency and critical care, symptoms of canine dehydration include:
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea
- Reduced energy levels and lethargy
- Excessive panting
- Sunken, dry-looking eyes
- Dry nose
- Dry, sticky gums
- Thick saliva
Dog hydration tips – Loss of skin elasticity is the easiest signs to test for dehydration. To test for it, Dr. Klein suggests that you gently hold some of the dog’s skin near his shoulder blades, raise it up, and then let it go. Watch carefully as it falls back into place. In well-hydrated dogs, the skin instantly will spring back to its original position. The skin of dehydrated dogs, on the other hand, will take longer to fall back into place.
“It’s a good idea to first test your dog’s skin when you are sure he’s well hydrated, so that you have a base for what normal skin elasticity feels like. This is especially important for owners of wrinkly breeds, such as Bulldogs or Neapolitan Mastiffs, because their skin may not be as elastic, even under normal conditions,” says Dr. Klein.
Dog hydration tips – Another test is to check your dog’s gums to feel whether they’re sticky and dry, and while you’re doing that, test for capillary refill time. Press your finger gently against your dog’s gums and then remove your finger. In a well-hydrated dog, the area where you pressed will appear white for a second, and then return to its normal pink color almost immediately. In dehydrated dogs, the capillary refill time takes much longer.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs
The best way to protect your dog from dehydration is to make sure he doesn’t get in that condition in the first place: provide him with a constant supply of clean, clear water at all times, including when you take him outside. Some dogs drink more than others; so you may need to take extra care to make sure that picky drinkers get enough water. Some dog owners try flavoring water with bone broth or giving their dogs ice cubes to chew on.
If you have any questions about whether your pet is suffering from dehydration – ask your veterinarian. You can call us at 970-587-5140.
While this article focused on dogs – cats need a good supply of fresh water, too!
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