Everyone loves a refreshing drink of cool water, especially on a hot summer day when the fresh air and sunshine combine to lead to more time spent outdoors for us and our furry friends. While the additional outdoor activity is welcome, it increases our pets’ chances of dehydration.
While our bodies are 55 to 60 percent water, our pet pals’ bodies are 80 percent water, making proper hydration even more crucial for them. Dehydration occurs when internal fluid levels drop below normal, either because of reduced water intake or increased fluid loss.
Dehydration often occurs with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, hypothermia and fever and usually involves no access to a water source. Signs of dehydration include:
– Dry tongue and gums. Saliva, when properly hydrated, should be watery and hardly noticeable.
-Sunken, dull or dry eyes.
-Lethargy or depression.
-Loss of skin elasticity. To check this, gently pinch a fold of skin over the shoulder blades, raise it up an inch, then watch how quickly it returns to normal position. If the skin moves slowly, your pet may be moderately to severely dehydrated as normal skin goes back into place quickly.
While it may seem counterintuitive, if your pet is dehydrated, remove his access to food and water for a short period of time. This time frame will allow his stomach and intestinal tract to settle and rest after he has been vomiting. Also, do not feed him any dry food until he is cleared by us.
Prevention is key when dealing with dehydration. Cats and dogs have similar basic needs for preventing dehydration. Provide clean water for your pet at all times, changing it frequently to ensure freshness. Wash his water bowl often to prevent bacteria from building up. However, there are differences to keep in mind for your dog versus your cat:
-A dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If she isn’t drinking an adequate amount of water for her weight, contact us.
– Purchase a water bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent her from knocking it over.
– If you notice she is drinking less water than usual, check her mouth for sores or foreign objects such as burrs or sticks.
– Avoid chaining her outside as she may get tangled up and be unable to reach a water source.
– Keep the toilet lid closed. Though she may find it a handy drinking fountain, the bowl can be a source of bacteria.
– Watch your cat to determine his preference for water. Some prefer certain bowls, while others prefer tap water from the kitchen sink over a bottle of water. Others favor a water fountain that can be found at pet stores.
– If your cat has recently been ill from diarrhea or vomiting, give him an ice cube to lick then provide small amounts of water at regular intervals.
-When traveling with him, keep in mind that travel in general is stressful for cats. While motion sickness may make him ill, ensure he still has regular access to water, especially after flying. Bring along extra water if you think access may be an issue.
While dehydration can be treated at home if caught early, most cases progress to severe quickly and require veterinary care immediately. If you suspect your pet is suffering from dehydration, contact us immediately as IV fluids may be required. Together we can help get your furry friend back on the road to recovery.