This article is brought to you by Emily Cook of the OSPCA!
PET HEALTH CORNER: Hydration & Pets
During the heat of the summer months, hydration is crucial to keeping your pets healthy and comfortable.
What is it about hydration?
Dave Wilson, director of Shelter Health & Wellness and retired vet says there’s no exact way to measure how much water your pet needs. He says it changes day to day and based on activities they’re doing and weather.
“It’s pretty rare that animals will gorge on water to the point of making themselves ill,” he says, “So more times than not it’s making sure that they have ready access to clean, fresh, water at all times.”
This applies to cats as well, he says, because pet owners tend to forget to refresh their cats water on a regular basis. Wilson says owners should wash out and rinse their cat’s water bowl every few days. This will make sure the water is fresh and clean.
Wilson says you can limit your dog’s water intake if you’re concerned they will gorge themselves on water after a strenuous activity or walk. He says to do this by putting only a few inches of water in the bowl, and letting your dog finish it. Then wait a few minutes, and add a few more inches.
“Then just go back to your regular routine of having the water bowl filled at all times,” he says.
When your dog pants, Wilson says that’s how they release heat. This is why he says it’s important to replace that evaporation with water.
“Why that water source is so critical, is for dogs that’s the primary way they have of cooling themselves of, is by panting,” he says, “And it’s not just the breathing action, it’s the fact that as they’re breathing they’re evaporating water off their tongue.”
What about dehydration?
When it comes to dehydration, Wilson says to speak with your veterinarian to ask what signs you need to look for. He says there is a pinch test that can be done, which your vet can show you.
He says some signs they can explain include that the eyes should be bright, shiny and glistening.
“Those are all things that your vet can explain to you better and then they can also show you some other tricks or techniques to monitor your pets hydration,” he says.
If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, Wilson says to call your vet immediately.
“A lot of times over the phone they may be able to give you some great guidance on how to proceed forward with that,” he says.
Fun ways to hydrate my pet?
Wilson says one of his favourite treats to give pets is ice cubes. For this treat you can use water, or diluted, low-sodium chicken broth. He says to make sure it’s low-sodium because if it’s too high in salt it will defeat the purpose!
“It’s a great way to help them cool down. They think it’s a great little treat,” he says.
When giving this treat, however, Wilson says to watch as they chew it to make sure they don’t chip or damage their teeth.
Another tip is he says to try using running water to keep your pet hydrated. Some pets don’t like drinking water from their bowl but they love it coming from a hose or tap.
“They’ll have a great old time just slurping and sloshing it all around them. A lot of dogs just really enjoy running water,” he says.
This applies to cats as well. Wilson says you can buy kitty fountains that continuously flow with water to keep your cat engaged, and hydrated!