We’ve all read about how certain nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins are so important for our pets. But we often forget that water is another essential nutrient that our furkids need!
Why It Is Important That Your Pet Stays Hydrated
Water makes up about 60-80% of a cat’s or dog’s body weight. That’s 20% more than us humans! Simply losing just 5-10% of body water would mean that your pet might suffer from severe dehydration. And if your pet is losing more than 12% of its body water, death would be imminent without emergency care. Drinking enough water is so important in supporting your pet’s urinary tract health, regulating body temperature, maintaining energy levels and promoting healing and recovery.
Most importantly, water is critical for every key body function of your pet — from aiding digestion to transporting nutrients and removing waste to cushioning joints and internal organs.
How Much Water Does Your Pet Actually Need?
The average healthy dog/cat needs 1 ounce (30ml) of water per pound (454g) of body weight every single day! But it also depends on other factors such as your pet’s activity levels and even changes in weather temperatures. Here in Singapore, the temperature remains relatively consistent throughout the year so this isn’t much of an issue. But given how warm it is almost every day, your pet would need that extra boost of hydration. The amount of water your furkid needs also depends on the type of food that it is already consuming. Does it already have a mainly wet food diet? If so, then your pet wouldn’t need to drink as much water.
Signs of Dehydration
If your pet isn’t consuming the amount of water it needs to stay healthy, it could become dehydrated. What’s more, there’s a possibility that dehydration can lead to many health issues such as heart failure, kidney damage and more. So before a mild dehydration could escalate into something more serious, it would be best to be able to identify the early signs of dehydration in your pets!
…in Your Cat
- Sunken eyes
- Poor skin elasticity
- Dry, tacky gums
- Loss of appetite
- Fast heart rate
…in Your Dog
- Loss of appetite
- Dry nose and gums
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Excessive urination
- Excessive drooling
- Elevated heart rate
Tips on Keeping an Eye on Your Pet’s Water Consumption
Years ago, researchers discovered that dogs don’t feel thirsty until they are already 6% dehydrated. It is therefore our responsibility as pet owners to ensure that our pets are taking in enough water so that they don’t become dehydrated.
But how do you know if your cat or dog is drinking enough water?
Take proactive steps in monitoring your furkid’s drinking behavior by developing a water bowl routine. For example, you could stick to the routine of refilling your pet’s water bowl at the same time daily and make sure that you fill the bowl to the same level each time. By developing and sticking to a routine, it’ll be easier to pick up on any changes in your pet’s thirst and drinking behavior.
How to Keep Your Pet Hydrated
It’s no secret that cats are especially finicky about their water. Dogs…less so. But there are still dogs who are fussy about where they’re drinking their water from. Here are some ways to encourage your pet to drink more water so they don’t become dehydrated!
Size and Quantity Matters – Water Bowls
Some dogs and cats (especially cats) are extremely finicky about their water. Perhaps the water bowl from which your cat is drinking from is too small and your cat dislikes having its whiskers brush against the rim. Perhaps your dog spots a leaf floating on the surface of its water bowl and so refuses to drink. These are all plausible reasons that many pet parents have encountered!
What you can do is to switch out your cat’s water bowl to one that is wider (so that its whiskers won’t be disturbed) and wash the water bowl and change out the water from your dog’s bowl regularly throughout the day.
If your pet still refuses to drink from its water bowl, you could try getting a water bowl that is made from a different material. There are so many different water bowls made of different materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, plastic and etc. — your furkid might have a preference. Placing several water bowls around your home in your pet’s favourite spots can also help to encourage your cat or dog to drink more water!
Many of us pet parents are likely to not be at home for a great part of the day. So be sure to always leave out more than enough water for your pet.
Get a Drinking Fountain
It has long since been ingrained in the DNA of cats and dogs to associate still water with stale water and moving water with fresh water. That’s why you might have noticed your cat being drawn to running tap water. If your pet simply refuses to drink from a bowl —no matter the size, shape and material — then maybe you can try investing in a drinking fountain. A drinking fountain provides a constant flow of fresh and clean water that your pet may lap from.
Add Water to Your Pet’s Food
Drinking water isn’t the only way to keep your pet hydrated. By introducing wet foods to your cat or dog, you’re incorporating some moisture into their diets. However, do take note that wet pet foods cannot replace water altogether!
If your pet has been relying on a diet that mainly consists of dry food such as kibble, you can try adding a little water to its food. Alternatively, you can also introduce dehydrated food, canned food, freeze dried food and broth into your pet’s diet! Apart from keeping your pet hydrated, your furkid will definitely also be glad for the variety.
Make Popsicles for Your Pet
Encourage your pet to drink more water by making it fun! Offer your cat icy treats by mixing tuna puree and water and freezing it into cubes. For your picky pooch, combine minced, cooked chicken with water or low-sodium chicken broth and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Not only does this help cool down your pet on a warm day, it makes for a fun treat that your furkid would love to lap up.
Another way to encourage your dog or cat to drink more water is to add several ice cubes to their water bowls. Hearing the clinking of the ice cubes and watching the ice cubes bob about in the bowl would keep them entertained as they drink!
Provide a Place to Cool Off
Imagine having to wear a fur coat throughout the year here in sunny Singapore — we’d be sweating profusely through our layers. But cats and dogs don’t perspire the way we do. Instead, they sweat through their paws and cool down by panting. The latter happens very rarely for cats through! If your cat actually pants, it must be really hot.
To prevent your pet from losing too much water through sweating, ensure that there are plenty of spots in your home to cool off.
Shut the blinds and curtains so that your house remains relatively cool. You could also get a pet cooling bed where they may go to take refuge from the heat. If your pet has a favourite chill-out spot, find a way to keep that area cool throughout the day.
If you’ve tried these tips and your pet is still exhibiting signs of dehydration, it is important to contact your vet immediately to seek medical attention to identify if the underlying cause of dehydration is something more sinister!
Read more: What is Taurine for Cats?
*Featured Image Source: Pixabay