Baby it’s hot outside! We have all watched the effect of this summer’s heat and lack of water on our lawns and farmer’s crops but what about our pets? How important is water to their well being?
Water is THE essential nutrient. It covers about 70% of the earth’s surface and comprises 70 -80% of a dog or cat’s body mass. Animals can survive the loss of up to one half of their muscle and fat but will perish with the loss of just one tenth of essential body water. (Cat’s are more sensitive to fasting than dogs and may develop fatty liver syndrome if they go without food for even a few days.)
Water helps the body function through:
- Temperature regulation through perspiration and panting
- Flushing out toxins and waste
- Cushioning joints and protecting organs
- Lubricating eyes, mouth, nose, digestive system and all of the body’s tissues.
- Helping blood flow smoothly through the body.
- Providing the “broth” needed to dissolve and mix the body’s essential chemicals.
- Keeping the body’s acid/base balance correct.
How much water is necessary to keep your pet functioning well? According to AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) the general rule of thumb is that most animals should have approximately 28 milliliters (just less than an ounce) per pound per day. So your 40# dog needs at least a liter of water per day while your ten pound cat requires around a quarter of a liter. For the most part, if you just provide clean water, your pet will drink whatever they require.
What are the signs of dehydration?
- Sunken eyes
- Dry or tacky gums
- Depression or lethargy
- Dark, strong smelling urine
- Decrease or cessation of urination
- Increased heart rate
- Higher than normal body temperature if overheated ( normal high is 102.5)
- Seizures/kidney failure/death if not corrected.
Water facts from AAHA:
- Water bowls need to be cleaned daily. Otherwise bacteria can cause unpalatable tastes and even make your pet ill.
- Water bowls need to be flat bottomed or weighted so your pet cannot tip them over.
- Water evaporates rapidly in the heat. Check bowls multiple times in hot weather.
- Chained pets can end up wrapped up and unable to reach their water bowl. Check them often.
- The toilet is not a water fountain. It can contain bacteria and chemicals that can make your pet sick. Smaller pets may actually fall in and drown.
- Many amphibians don’t drink from a bowl or sipper and need to have their water misted or sprayed into a moist environment.
- Retiles need long, shallow bowls that they use for both soaking and drinking. Check bowls for feces and clean them frequently.
- Just like us, the more your pet exercises the more water they require.