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Water: A Necessary Element to your Pet’s Health

A puppy and kitten drinking together out of a water bowl.

Why is Water so Important for Your Pets?

If you have a cat or dog, you’ve more than likely heard that it’s important to always have fresh water nearby. There’s a reason for that, as water is one crucial element (probably the most crucial) that all pets, and even us humans, need in order to survive. Without water, we can become dehydrated, get very sick and eventually die from a lack of it.

Water: How Does it Help your Pets?

Water is crucial in transferring valuable nutrients in and out of your pet’s body, which helps with digestion and absorption. Water also plays a key part in helping pets to regulate their body temperature, it helps with cognitive functions, lubricates their joints and helps protect their spine and brain. So, in a nutshell, our pets (and us humans) need water to live.

If we don’t have enough water in our system, we don’t feel as good as we should. Pets can become sluggish, groggy, disoriented, and this excessive loss of water can lead to dehydration. Dehydration allows for water to be removed from cells, which can lead to muscular complications and electrolyte issues (electrolytes play a crucial part in conducting nervous impulses, contracting muscles, keeping your pets hydrated and regulating their pH levels). If it’s prolonged, organs can start to fail and death can occur.

Knowing When Your Pet is Dehydrated

Pet dehydration is not an unusual phenomenon; it actually happens quite frequently. It tends to affect pets that are old, pets with illnesses and dog breeds with short faces, also known as brachycephalic breeds.

Here are a few signs that your pet may be dehydrated:

  • Your pet moves slower than usual
  • Signs of exhaustion, such as sluggishness or apathy
  • No appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Excessive panting
  • Dry gums and nose

If a cat or dog doesn’t drink enough water, their skin can lose its elasticity. You can check this by gently pinching the skin over their shoulder blades. If it bounces quickly, then your pet is clearly hydrated. If it doesn’t bounce and slowly moves back down to the shoulders over several seconds, then your pet is dehydrated and needs water.

Dehydration: Why Does it Happen?

Dehydration can happen quite easily. Pets lose water when they relieve themselves, when they pant, and even when they breathe. Drinking water and eating wet food can help your pets replenish their system.

If you notice that your pet isn’t eating or drinking enough, then there’s a chance if them be coming dehydrated. If they show not interest in food or eating in general, they need to be hydrated, as health problems can transpire, such as organ failure. If this becomes a recurring issue, reach out to your Austin vet right away.

If your pets like to go outside and play, make sure they have plenty of water nearby. In Austin, where it gets unbearably hot in the summer, it’s  best to keep your pets indoors near clean, fresh water, so they don’t overheat. This is one way to help prevent dehydration, heat stress and heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Cats can be very susceptible to dehydration, even more than dogs. Some studies claim that many cats exist in a state of chronic dehydration. This can greatly impact their health, including an increased risk of diabetes, in addition to kidney and liver failure.

How to Keep Your Pet Hydrated

It’s very important to monitor your pet’s water intake, especially when it’s very hot and humid outside. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ensure that your pets always have access to fresh, clean, clear drinking water
  • Keep several water bowls available throughout your house, and change them throughout the day
  • A drinking fountain for pets is a worthwhile investment; cats are fond of running water and these fountains provide water that is always filtered and stays cool
  • If your pets eat only dry food, be sure to add wet food, which can add necessary moisture to their diet
  • While traveling with your dog, always have fresh bottled water and travel bowls with you
  • Experiment with different types of water bowls. We all know how picky our pets are (especially cats), so find a bowl that you think they’ll like

If you notice your pet looking a bit wobbly, if they appear to be disoriented, if they pant more than usual, if their gums appear pale and if they aren’t drinking enough water, then you need to bring them in to see your Austin vet.

Once a pet becomes seriously dehydrated, they will need IV fluids to help them replenish necessary electrolytes and water to help prevent them from experiencing organ failure. During this time, your pet will be observed to determine the level of dehydration and the best way to get them back to normal.

Always be aware if you pet needs water, and be sure to have plenty available for them. Especially during Austin’s hot summer months, it’s imperative to have water play an important role in your pets daily routine. If you need assistance, please feel free to contact ATX Animal Clinic, and we’ll be more than happy to discuss how to keep your cat or dog hydrated.