Consuming water every day is essential for humans and animals. This, hopefully, is a fact we’re all well aware of and we actively consume the amount of water our bodies strive for each day. We need it to survive and to keep our bodies functioning properly! Cats, dogs, and all our other pets are just as dependent on water as we are. Staying hydrated will help keep your pet’s bodies and health in check. Every animal has different intake needs depending on size, age, and breed. Stay on top of their water drinking habits as its important from preventing future health-related issues such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and dehydration!! Dehydration is especially more common during the warmer months, so here are some tips and signs to be aware of in your pets.
Dehydration in our pets is not something to take lightly. It can turn into a serious health issue if not noticed soon enough. Knowing what dehydration looks like in animals is extremely important. If our pets could talk and let us know when they aren’t feeling well or if something is wrong, then that would be amazing! Unfortunately, they aren’t able to let us know when they feel symptoms of dehydration so that’s our job as fur moms and fur dads to notice any signs as soon as possible.
The signs of dehydration do look similar in both cats and dogs. Dogs are more likely to experience it because they are outside in the sun, going on walks, and moving around more than cats typically would be. One of the first things you may notice is your pet acting more tired than usual. If they’re unusually lazy and not themselves then they could be feeling lethargic which means you should start checking their vitals for other possible symptoms. Check all over to test the elasticity of their skin. You’ll want to open up their mouth and note the gum coloring along with the elasticity of the mouth. When a pet is well hydrated their skin should bounce back into place rather quickly and gum color should be pink. Lack of elasticity and gum coloring that looks bright red, pale white, or any other color than pink are signs that your pet isn’t hydrated enough. Other behaviors to look for are:
- Breathing patterns- Is your pet panting heavier than usual? Is their stomach moving at an abnormal rate? If their breathing seems off in anyway this can be a sign of dehydration.
- Eyes- When your pet is dehydrated their eyes may look sunken or glazed over. Are they dry looking? Dryness and sunken eyes are common symptoms.
- Vomiting and Diarrhea- Keep an eye out for any accidents whether vomiting and diarrhea occur together or by themselves.
Treating your pet as soon as possible for dehydration Is necessary to avoid any further damage to happen. Get your pet to cool down is the first step. If they are in the sun or in a warm area you’ll need to get them in the coolest, shadiest spot possible. Give them fresh clean water in small amounts. You don’t want to give them too much water all at once. Make sure you have your veterinarian’s information on hand because you’ll need to call them and explain what’s going on with your pet. Never assume just because they seem to be feeling better that the long-term effects won’t be there. It’s always the best choice to contact your veterinarian in any medical emergency and this includes dehydration and heatstroke.
The best scenario is preventing any sort of dehydration before it occurs or worsens. Prevention is key! Be extra preventative and encourage higher water intakes during the summer. As we know in San Diego, Summer can be scorching hot and therefore humans and animals sweat more, losing more bodily fluids. On top of the heat, we are most likely taking advantage of the weather and including our pets in some fun outdoor activities. If you plan on taking your dog on a hike or adventure to the beach then encourage them to drink more water than usual. Always have fresh, clean water available. You can never bring too many water bottles!
For the pickier water drinkers, use your creativity to make water drinking more desirable for them. Recently I discovered that my cat is completely obsessed with ice cubes! I never thought to put ice cubes in his big water bowl so I tossed a few in there to see how he would react. To say he was amazed was an understatement. At first, he would just sit and stare at them until they all melted. Now he plays with them and bats them around until they slowly melt into his cold water. When they all go bye-bye, he starts to drink the water! Your pet may not be as odd and ice cube obsessed like mine, but ice cubes are a great summer treat to get your pet hydrated. Dogs love frozen Kongs with treats in the middle so they’ll actively lick all the ice to get to the yummy prize.
I recommend having more than just one water bowl available at all times. Of course, it depends on how many fur babies you have, but always have a few spots throughout the house to keep water bowls or fountains that you clean daily. Water bowls come in all sorts of fun sizes and interactive-ness levels. Fountains with steams and slides may attract those playful kitties to gather around their water stations more frequently to drink (and play with) their water.
Pets only can get their daily water intake from DRINKING from water bowls is a myth. Now, this is the main source for their water consumption, but water can also be added to their eating routine. Whether you feed your pet dry kibbles, wet can food, or raw, you can add some water to mix in with their meal. This is a sneaky, but effective way to get those picky water drinkers to still get their hydration!
Have fun this summer. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and remember water is you and your pet’s BFF!