It’s easy to take a healthy pet’s wellness for granted. After all, if all the components of health are in place, such as diet, exercise, and disease prevention, a unique balance prevails. However, if a single element is out of whack, the entire foundation can crash. So it is with pet dehydration.
Pets typically drink when thirsty, but even a slight loss of bodily fluids can result in critical care.
Water makes up about 70-80% of a pet’s body mass and helps maintain the normal functioning of cells. In the summer, we all face the challenges of hydration, but pets need extra help in that department. The associated health risks of pet dehydration are preventable, so let’s get focused on drinking water!
Pet dehydration happens when an animal loses body fluids faster than they can be replaced. Symptoms include:
- Lack of skin elasticity (when pulled and released, normal skin should spring back into place)
- Dry mouth
- Tacky gums
- Problems breathing easily
- Drastically reduced urine/bowel volume and frequency
- Water seeking behavior (make sure your pet isn’t drinking from standing water, gardening beds, pools, puddles, potted plants, and other potentially harmful places that harbor bacteria, chemicals, mold, and parasites)
- Elevated heart rate
- Reduced body temperature
How Your Pet May Be Affected
The body naturally wants to preserve the functions of the major internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, brain, and liver. Pet dehydration stresses out bodily function and impairs normal ability.
Extreme pet dehydration is a medical emergency. Intravenous fluids should be quickly administered and vital signs watched closely.
Comes with the Territory
Not all cases of pet dehydration are the result of high temperatures, overexertion, or diminished hydration. Many health conditions lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea as well as inappetence and decreased water intake. Cancer, immune system disorders, kidney or liver disease, poisoning, and infection can all play a part in pet dehydration.
Preventing Pet Dehydration
An adult dog in good health should have one ounce of water per pound of body weight every single day. Cats require equal portions of water and food per 24 hours. Also:
- Provide clean, fresh, room temperature water every day. Running water fountains are beneficial.
- Discuss with your veterinarian whether a wet food diet would help instead of dry, crunchy kibble.
- Limit your pet’s activity levels during the hottest parts of the day. Keep walks to the hours around dawn and dusk.
- Make sure there is ample shade where your pet likes to hang out.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car.
Remember, your pet’s whole body health requires balance. If we can help you achieve that, please let us know.