A dog drinking from a bowl

Many animal species evolved in such a way that reduced the need for water. Camels, for example, can survive over a month in the desert as long as they eat enough vegetation. But the lionshare of animal species absolutely depend on fresh, clean water in order for their bodies to function properly.  

With summer temperatures rising, July has been designated National Pet Hydration Month. Since as much as 80% of a pet’s body weight is water, it is critical to measure and observe how much water they drink this summer. Together, the Pet Experts hope to keep your pet healthy and hydrated!

A Shallow Bowl

Water is essential to a pet’s health. Regulation of internal body temperature, waste filtration, and nutritional processing all require daily water. 

Without enough water, the body cannot function properly. Pet dehydration can cause the following symptoms:

  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Panting without exertion
  • Sunken eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Dry nose and gums

When in doubt, the skin elasticity test can help. Simply pinch your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. If it springs back into place when released, they are hydrated. If it takes time to get back to its position, they are in danger.

Similarly, test for capillary refill time by applying pressure to your pet’s gums. Normally, when you remove pressure the gums will return to their pinkish color quickly. In a dehydrated pet, it takes longer for the gums to regain color.

Promote Pet Hydration

One of the keys to optimal pet hydration is an understanding of just how much a pet needs throughout the day. Ideally, a pet should consume one ounce of water per pound of body weight. More water is necessary if they are highly active. You can promote pet hydration by:

  • Continually stocking a fresh supply of cool, clean water
  • Cleaning their bowl throughout the day to increase attractiveness (and decrease bacterial growth!)
  • Investing in a circulating pet fountain
  • Adding fresh fruits or veggies to their daily food/treat rotation
  • Maintaining a balanced diet

Always Be Careful

Playing with a garden hose or placing a small, shallow wading pool outside for them is a great way to promote pet hydration and ward off heatstroke. However, water can be dangerous to pets that overdrink it, or accidentally consume it during water play. Please keep a lookout for loss of coordination, bloating, excessive salivation, and difficulty breathing.

Wait! There’s More

The Pet Experts encourage you to watch your pet closely to ensure they’re getting just enough water, as well as noting any changes to their daily intake. Certain health issues, such as leptospirosis, pancreatitis, or parvovirus cause dogs to drink less water than they need. Alternatively, pets that drink too much can be suffering from diabetes or bladder infections. 

Exotic Need Special Care, Too!

Rodents, rabbits, reptiles, ferrets, insects, arachnids, birds, amphibians, and more are all in need of extra special care during the hottest months. Indeed, exotic pets and pocket pets may be at higher risk of suffering from the effects of dehydration. 

As always, please contact us with any questions. The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center are always here to answer questions about pet hydration.