by Susan Paretts
All mammals, including us humans and our furry friends, need water to stay healthy. Water makes up most of your pet’s body and helps with many essential tasks needed to support life, including proper organ function, waste removal, joint function, temperature regulation and digestion. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of how much water your pet is drinking each day.
But what if you notice that your pooch or kitty isn’t getting enough water? It could be because they’re not feeling well or that they simply don’t think the water is fresh enough for their tastes. Here, we look at what causes dehydration in pets and how you can encourage your canine or feline companion to drink more water.
Signs of Dehydration in Cats and Dogs
When pets don’t drink enough water, you’ll wind up with a dehydrated cat or dog, especially on hot days. The average dog or cat needs around an ounce of water per pound of weight each day to stay hydrated. But how long can a dog go without water? The answer is around two to three days for both dogs and cats, but you should visit the vet if they refuse to drink water for more than a day.
A simple way to test your pet’s hydration level is to gently pinch the skin behind their neck. If the skin doesn’t immediately bounce back and stays tent-shaped, your pet is likely dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite, sunken eyes, or a dry nose and dry mouth.
Causes of Dehydration in Cats and Dogs
Although the main cause of dehydration in cats and dogs is not ingesting enough water, other things like illness can lead to dehydration. Vomiting and diarrhea are two main culprits that can quickly cause your pet to become dehydrated because they lead to a large amount of water loss in a short amount of time. Other conditions like diabetes or kidney disease can also cause dehydration.
Hot weather can quickly lead to dehydration and heat stroke in pets, which is why it’s so important to always have water available to them indoors and outdoors. You should also take a bottle of water with you when you go out with your dog to ensure he doesn’t become dehydrated while enjoying some sunshine.
Another cause of dehydration in pets could be arthritis or other painful health conditions that limit your pet’s mobility. The pain makes it hard for your pup or kitty to get to the water bowl enough to stay hydrated.
How to Encourage Your Cat or Dog to Drink More Water
If you find your cat or dog not drinking enough water, there are some steps you can take to ensure your four-legged friend stays well hydrated. First and foremost, always have a dish or two of water available for your pet to drink from, and change it daily so that it’s always fresh. Or, invest in a pet water fountain with a carbon filter. These fountains keep the water inside clean and tasty by circulating it continuously. Some pets even prefer the taste of bottled or filtered water, so you may want to try giving them that instead of tap water.
If the fresh drizzle of water from a fountain or bottle isn’t tempting your furry buddy to drink more, you can also make that water more appetizing with some ice cubes. Or, add a touch of low-sodium beef or chicken broth to your pet’s water to make it more appealing. Another option is to freeze cubes of broth-flavored water and give the cubes to your pet to lick.
For pets dealing with painful conditions like arthritis, make sure you place a bowl of fresh water or a fountain close to the spots where they like to hang out most. This way, they won’t have to travel too far to get to that thirst-quenching water.
Cat or Dog Not Drinking Water?
Pets can easily become dehydrated due to illness, mobility issues or warm weather, so it’s important to encourage them to drink water. You’ll also need to speak with your vet if you notice that your pet is showing signs of dehydration so that she can rule out any serious health issues as the cause. And, be sure to include some canned food or moistened dry kibble in your dog or cat’s diet to ensure they are getting enough water.
For pets with mobility issues, consider giving them a CBD tincture or chew, which might help relieve occasional joint stiffness. After all, your four-legged friend will be more apt to head for the water dish if they aren’t plagued by discomfort. Check out these Heelr CBD chews and tinctures specially designed for your furry friends.
Susan Paretts is a pet expert and author whose work has been published in a variety of pet-related publications, including the American Kennel Club, Cuteness, World of Wag, The Noseprint, The Nest Pets, The Daily Puppy, Mom.com and GoFetch. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with an MFA in writing, and lives with her husband and her adorable furry family members.