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Why Is Water Critical for Your Pet’s Health?

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Why Is Water Critical for Your Pet’s Health?

We all know the importance of staying hydrated and how critical water is for our health, but what about pets? How important is water for your pet’s health, and how can you be sure they have enough water to stay healthy and hydrated?

Water and Pet Health

Water is necessary for the same bodily functions in pets as it is in their owners, including:

  • Carrying nutrients in and waste out of cells
  • Aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Lubricating and cushioning joints
  • Improving cognitive function
  • Cushioning the brain and spinal cord
  • Facilitating muscle function and agility
  • Enhancing senses, particularly smell (with a moist nose)
  • Eliminating bodily waste through urine and feces

With so many essential functions dependent on proper hydration, it is critical that pets get the water they need throughout the day.

How Much Water Do Pets Need?

The daily amount of water different pets will need depends on many factors. Different animal species need different amounts of water, and the animal’s overall size also determines whether it needs more or less water – larger animals require more water than smaller creatures. Very active, energetic animals typically need more water, as will female animals that are lactating to feed young. An animal’s diet can impact how much additional water it needs, as animals that eat wet foods or vegetables with a high water content may need to drink less. Similarly, animals in very dry or hot climates tend to need more water. An animal’s daily water needs may also change as it ages.

In general, dogs require one-half to one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Cats need less water, and 5-10 ounces of drinking water per day is typically sufficient for a cat. Both cats and dogs that eat wet food will need somewhat less water than expected each day.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can be very subtle and not all animals will show a lack of water the same way. Typical symptoms of strong dehydration include:

  • Lack of energy and overall lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry or sticky nose and gums
  • Thick saliva
  • Excessive panting

When pets start to show signs of dehydration, it is important to get them to drink right away. Rehydration should be slow but steady, and the animal should be kept calm and relaxed so it can recover. If dehydration is not treated, the animal may suffer from heat stroke, shock, or organ damage, particular to the heart and kidneys. In severe cases, dehydration can be fatal.

Making Sure Your Pet Stays Hydrated

There are many creative ways to be sure your pet gets enough to drink. To provide enough water to keep your pet hydrated and healthy…

  • Provide fresh, clean water at all times
  • Use several water bowls in different areas so pets have a choice
  • Consider a drinking fountain or dripping faucet (especially for cats)
  • Add canned food to your pet’s diet, or lightly moisten dry food
  • Provide preferred water bowl styles (especially for cats)
  • Teach your pet to drink from a bottle for on-the-go hydration
  • Wash water bowls daily so they stay fresh and clean
  • Offer ice pop treats lightly flavored with low sodium broth, especially on hot days

At the same time, don’t use up your pet’s precious body hydration. Avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, and be sure the animal always has a cool, shaded space to rest. Stay alert to possible sighs of dehydration, and take action immediately if your pet needs more water.

With enough drinking options, most animals will have no trouble getting enough water to ensure good health, and by ensuring they stay hydrated, you’re helping your pet live a long, healthy life.

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