Image Credit: Unsplash
As with any living animal, cats and dogs need plenty of water! It’s more important that your pets have easy access to water than food! Thanks to their coats, cats and dogs can dehydrate and overheat quickly. Particularly in warmer weather, their need for water to stay cool and healthy spikes rapidly.
Whether you’re traveling with your cat or dog, letting it outside, keeping it indoors, or any combination of the above, make sure that they always have a ready source of clean, freshwater, especially when you’re not able to directly monitor them. When you do go out with your pets, be sure to bring along an animal waste bag from The Original Poop Bags® to help keep the environment healthy and free from toxins!
Cat Water Needs
Cats can dehydrate quickly and severely, and you may not even notice it. By nature, cats hide ailments and aren’t animals that seek out water. In the wild cats derive moisture from their hunting more than anything else. So if you’re feeding your cat dry food, they’re not actually getting their water in a way that’s natural for them, and they might just be getting very, very thirsty, even if they’re not letting you know it.
The basic calculation for the amount of water a cat needs is around 100-175 ml of water for every 2.2kg of a cat. Wet food actually contains between 70-80% water, so it goes a long way to getting your cat enough hydration, but there will be other times that you’ll need to make sure that the cat is getting water. Turn the tap on or invest in a small, continuously flowing drinking fountain, because cats like drinking flowing water.
Since you won’t always be able to monitor the amount of water your cat is drinking, a good idea is to simply make sure they’re getting enough moisture through their food, and start serving them wet food instead of putting them on a dry food only diet.
Dog Water Needs
Dogs are much easier animals to monitor than cats, and they typically have no qualms with drinking in front of humans. A dog needs between 20-70ml of water per day for every 1kg of weight. Dogs too, can suffer from dehydration and it’s a problem if they do. Since they’re not resistant to getting water from a water source, dehydration is less of a typical problem for a dog as long as you are monitoring its water bowl.
The problem dogs can face is the opposite — drinking too much water! It’s called “polydipsia” when they do it, and it can be a symptom of a range of serious conditions like kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, and Cushing’s disease. These ailments all manifest as the dog developing a serious thirst for water. Additionally, some dog breeds have a natural affinity for water that can later manifest as a psychological need to drink a lot of water. Correcting that behavior is important, but tends to be very difficult. If they don't get sufficient amounts of water, they also might go out to drink water. Then the dog is at risk of getting lost or injured. If your dog becomes lost, PawMaw can be a useful resource. This site tries to help connect lost pooches with their rightful owners.
How Can I Tell if My Pet is Dehydrated?
If you start to suspect that your pet is suffering from dehydration, it is important that you immediately seek your vet’s help. For dogs, dehydration can manifest with any of the following symptoms:
- Sunken eyes
- Dry gums
- Loss of skin elasticity
If you observe any of those symptoms, pinch a little skin on the dog’s back or top of their head. A well-hydrated dog will result in the skin springing back immediately on release. The closer the dog gets to dehydration, the longer it will take for the skin to return to position.
For cats, dehydration can be trickier to diagnose since cats hide medical issues well. However, there are some clear signs of dehydration, that include:
- Refusal to eat
- Sunken eyes
- Dry gums
The test for cats and dehydration is actually the same as for dogs: pinch some skin up and see if it springs back into position.
If your pet is only mildly dehydrated, then you can treat them yourself by giving them some water. In rare cases, it may be necessary to force feed the water if they are being reluctant to drink. It will also help to move them to a cool place where they won’t lose the water that is in their system so quickly. If the pet isn’t recovering, or dehydration has already progressed to the point where the pinched skin test is leaving the skin in the “tent position” rather than springing back to normal, then you’ll need to hurry the pet to the vet for additional care.
Preventing dehydration is critical. Make sure that there’s always sources of water around for the animals, and that they are comfortable using them. Remember that cats often prefer a fountain to a bowl of still water. Never leave your pet in a situation where it might become overheated without adequate levels of water. For example, make sure that pets have a way back into the house through the hot summer weather.