It’s fairly common knowledge that the human body is approximately sixty percent water. This makes good hydration very important, especially when the individual is sweating out a large portion of this water. However, as important as it is for humans to drink plenty of water, it’s even more important for pets.
Pets and Dehydration
Where the human body is approximately sixty percent water, your pet’s body is approximately eighty percent water. Just as dehydration can be uncomfortable and dangerous in humans, it can also be uncomfortable and dangerous in pets. Unfortunately, many pet owners aren’t fully aware of the dangers of dehydration and how to prevent or resolve it. Some are even content to let their pet drink puddle water, milk and don’t worry much about it at all. Those who do provide their pet with fresh water aren’t usually sure of exactly how much water they should give their pets to drink. And perhaps most alarmingly, the majority of pet owners don’t actually know how to tell if their pet is dehydrated and what to do about this condition.
It is a common misconception that panting dogs are dehydrated dogs. In actuality, panting is a normal, natural way for dogs to cool their body down or even cope with anxiety. A dehydrated dog or cat has more distinctive symptoms of dehydration, such as sunken eyes, dry gums, lethargy, weakness, collapse and loss of skin elasticity. The loss of skin elasticity is a wonderful yardstick to use to determine if a pet may be suffering from even low levels of dehydration–long before they develop more extensive problems and symptoms. You can test your pet’s skin elasticity by using your thumb and forefinger to pinch a little skin on their back or at the top of their head. When you release their skin, it will either spring back into place or move slowly back into place. If it springs back into place, your pet is well hydrated. If it moves slowly back into place, your pet is dehydrated.
Once you have determined that your pet is dehydrated, it becomes critical to aid them in restoring proper hydration. In a survey conducted in the UK, it was found that puddle water was the most common thing that dogs loved to drink when away from fresh water. Unfortunately, puddle water can be contaminated with dangerous elements, such as oil or gas from passing cars, and can then cause upset stomachs and other health problems. This same survey indicated that many cat owners offered fresh milk to their cats regularly, believing that this was good for them. In actuality, all cats are lactose intolerant and can suffer from severe cramps, diarrhea and obesity as a result of its regular ingestion.
So what should you give your pets and in what quantities? The answer is fresh water, and in large volume. More specifically, cats and dogs weighing around ten pounds will need to drink about eleven ounces of water a day, dogs weighing around eighteen pounds will need to drink about nineteen ounces of water a day, dogs weighing around fifty pounds will need to drink about fifty-seven ounces of water a day, dogs weighing around eighty pounds will need to drink about eighty-three ounces of water a day, and so on. This means that they should always have access to clean, fresh water at home, and even on short car trips. Some pets need to be directed to water and encouraged to drink it, but others will take care of this on their own if fresh water is simply made available to them. Either way, it can greatly improve our pets’ health, happiness and comfort if we ensure they always have sufficient quantities of clean water available to them.