We all know the feeling. You just finished mowing the lawn, or you’re wrapping up a good jog right in the middle of this hazy summer heat. You wipe the sweat from your brow, and take a deep, cleansing breath. You grab your water bottle and take a nice, long drink. You can feel the water course its way through your body, cooling and relaxing muscles and tissue and providing relief from the hot conditions and body swell…
It almost feels as if your body is a sponge (spoiler alert: it kind of is), instantly absorbing anything you can get your hands on. There’s nothing quite like a cool, refreshing glass of water on a hot summer day. But what about your pet that joined you on that run, or that played in the yard all day? Pets know that feeling of exhaustion and the relief clean, safe water can provide, and they want that good stuff!
Today’s blog is going to feature the importance of hydration for your pets during these hot & humid summer months. We’ll take a look at the symptoms of dehydration in pets, as well as how much is the right amount of water and discuss general tips for keeping your four legged friends comfortable and healthy this summer.
Know the symptoms of dehydration in your pet:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart/respiratory rate
- Excessive drooling
- Weakness, stupor or even collapse
- Bloody diarrhea/Vomiting
- Elevated body temperature over 104 degrees
It’s important to note animals with flat faces, like Pugs, Bulldogs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, overweight or obese, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
The best way to avoid these issues is very simply clean, safe water – and plenty of it. If you have a pet that you believe or know is dehydrated, it’s important to assess the stage of hydration the animal is in before attempting to remedy. Step one is always getting them to a shady area, out of the sun or ideally in air conditioning ASAP.
Severely dehydrated animals require immediate emergency care. If your pet shows signs of shock, heat stroke, or severe dehydration, call your veterinarian immediately, who will likely request that the dog be brought in so that the doctor can re-hydrate him with intravenous fluids.
If your veterinarian recommends it, offer the animal small amounts of water on the way to the clinic.
For more common cases, or mildly dehydrated animals, most vets recommend small sips of water every few minutes. You can also mix electrolyte replacement powder with the water or offer the pet pieces of ice to lick. Too much water too quickly, however, could cause them to vomit, exacerbating their dehydration. We may know all there is to know about water, but we’re not veterinarians – so contact yours for additional recommendations & information.
How much water does my dog or cat need?
A good amount of common sense goes a long way here, but let’s take a quick look at the recommendations made by specialists in the field of veterinary health.
“Like humans, each animal has individual water consumption needs”, says Dr. Emi Saito, a veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington and senior manager of Veterinary Research Programs at Banfield. She says, however, that the general recommendation is between ½-1 ounce of water per pound of body weight, or about 1 cup per 10 pounds of animal, per day.
“For the average pet owner, the best thing to remember might be simply that pets who are bigger and eat more need to drink more also,” says Dr. John Gicking, DVM, DACVECC, with BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida.
It is also important to note that dogs also simply tend to drink more water than cats. “Our companion cats are descended from desert dwellers that developed excellent physiologic strategies for conserving water,” added Dr. Liz Stelow, board-certified veterinary behaviorist and chief of service of clinical behavior service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.
We hope that this blog has driven home some important points for you on not only ensuring that your pet’s hydrated, but also what to do if they are dehydrated and how to prevent it from happening in the future. Remember, if you have questions about your pet’s overall health – your veterinarian is the best resource.
Wishing a happy, healthy and hydrated summer for you and your four-legged friends.
Content & Data Sources