Keep on Watering: How to Help Your Pet Stay Hydrated This Summer
After all those months of cold weather, it’s safe to say that almost everyone looks forward to the summer. Sunshine, trips, beaches, camping - it’s hard to go wrong! But when those temperatures finally start rising and we find ourselves reaching for an ice cold drink at every opportunity, it’s important to remember that our furry friends feel the heat just as we do, and they need to hydrate more than ever in the hot months. This July, we’re recognizing Pet Hydration Awareness Month and taking a look at all the ways you can keep your pets safe during the summer.
What's in a Drink?
We all know that humans need proper hydration to stay healthy and avoid sometimes serious health risks - but did you know that our pets’ bodies are made up of an even higher water percentage than our own? A whopping 80% of their bodies are water - and through the course of the day, they lose this through panting, sweating, and of course peeing and pooping. Digestive upsets - bouts of diarrhea or vomiting - can also contribute to dehydration in animals. Water is not only crucial for many key bodily functions (such as digestion and transporting nutrients around the body), it also helps pets maintain their normal body temperature by allowing them to pant and sweat to regulate their body heat, and by transporting heat away from working organs through the blood.
With so much of their body made up of that essential H2O, animals need to drink water not so much to cool down but to replace the water they lose through panting (a key function for regulating their body temperature). For every 1lb of body weight, pets need roughly 1oz of water - and if they lose even 10-15% of the water in their body, they can get very sick, which is why it’s so important to keep them hydrated in hot temperatures and humidity. Fortunately, preventing dehydration and heat exhaustion can be straightforward, even when that heatwave hits.
Knowing the Signs
There are several key things to look for when it comes to dogs and cats becoming dehydrated. Some common warning signs of dehydration include:
- Sunken eyes
- Tiredness or lethargy
- Dry gums and mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Thick Saliva
Heat stroke and exhaustion can also be common in animals during the sweaty summer months. Some dogs in particular are more prone to succumbing to heat stroke (if they have a thick coat or fur, are overweight, or those breeds with short noses such as boxers or bulldogs). Watch out for:
- Heavy panting
- Gum colour - brick red
- Fast pulse rate
- Unable to get up
Plan to Prevent
The best way to ensure that your pets stay healthy and happy this summer is to make sure they keep hydrated throughout the day. Ensuring your dog or cat has access to (clean) water at all times is crucial in preventing the onset of dehydration. If you suspect that your pet is becoming dehydrated, you can help by providing them with water straightaway (although introduce it at a slow pace in order to avoid vomiting). They may need to have their electrolytes replaced (if the body is low on water, fluids containing electrolytes are drawn out of the cells, which causes an imbalance that affects the organs). If your pet is vomiting persistently, or has any of the symptoms of dehydration or heat stroke, take them to the vet immediately.
If you’re looking for some fun, easy ways to increase your pet’s water intake, why not try one of these ideas:
- Make some pup-sicles to help cool your pets off with a delicious treat
- Fill freezable dog toys with foods that are safe for your pets to eat (fruit, veggies, sodium-free bone broth, plain sugar-free Greek yogurt, and even some Smack pieces!)
Add water to your pet’s meal - an easy way to help them get that extra moisture they need! (Our crunchy style pet food can be served with or without water, depending on your pet’s preference!)
Enjoying a Healthy, Hydrated Summer
When it comes to our pets and hot weather, there are several steps you can take to ensure that they stay safe and healthy. On hot days, limit their exercise and choose to walk them in the early morning or evening (walks on grass rather than sidewalks helps protect paws from hot surfaces). Making sure your cats and dogs have access to shade and water at all times is also crucial. Avoid situations where they may succumb to heat stroke by giving them easy access to shade and water at all times - and never leave your pet in a hot vehicle (the temperature in a car can quickly reach 120 degrees, even with a open window). Keeping your house cool will help your pet (and you!) stay comfortable when those heat waves start coming. So go out, enjoy the summer - and take along some water, for you and your furry friend!