How important is hydration?
In a word, extremely! Hydration is the most important nutrient your dog can consume. Just like a human being your dog can survive without food for a number of weeks but would deteriorate rapidly if access to fresh water was restricted or worst cut off completely. Unfortunately, this vital nutrient is often neglected by pet parents.
Why is hydration so important?
Good hydration helps your dog’s body to function properly. Just like a human your dog’s body is predominately made up of water (circa 70%) and requires sufficient water consumption in order to maintain and function effectively.
- Hydration assists with food digestion
- Hydration performs a specific role in regulating your dog’s body temperature
- Helps to protect and lubricate your dog’s joints
- Supports muscle function
- Balances the body’s pH levels
- Moves nutrients into the cells
What is dehydration?
Simply put, dehydration in dogs occur when the body loses more fluid than it’s taking in. It is normal however for your dog’s fluids to fluctuate throughout the day and this will vary depending on a number of factors such as staying inside all day in a warm house/environment or doing a lot of physical exercise. Your dog will usually replenish this fluid loss through eating and drinking throughout the day. But if your dog fails to replace this fluid loss then blood flow is restricted and the body will not function property as essential minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium become depleted. This can restrict nutrients reaching cells, disrupt muscle function and the body’s pH levels. Dehydration is a very serious and preventative medical condition that can lead to kidney and organ failure and in severe cases even death.
Signs that your dog is dehydrated
It’s important for pet parents to understand and identify quickly if their canine companion is dehydrated because knowing the early signs of dehydration can help prevent serious medical conditions. Some of the most obvious and physical symptoms to look for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Reduced energy levels and feeling lethargic
- Sunken, dry-looking eyes
- Dry nose
- Dry, sticky gums
- Thick saliva
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea
How to prevent dehydration
Best practice is avoidance and this can be achieved by introducing and having good practice in place. For a good rule of thumb, a normal dog will require 50-60 ml of water per kilogram of bodyweight but this will vary depending on the external temperature and how active your dog is during the day. It is essential to have access to fresh drinking water within their familiar environment. Good practice is to have multiple watering holes available.
- It’s important to keep your dogs water bowl clean and filled with fresh water
- You could introduce water to your dog food
- When out and about it is important to have access to fresh drinking water
- Try to flavor water with a broth if your dog does not like the taste of water on its own
- You could include ice cubes into your dog’s bowl as they like to chew or crunch the ice cubes
Quality of your dog’s water is equally important to ensure they do not pick up infections by ingesting harmful bacteria through unsanitary watering holes, toilet bowls, muddy puddles oily street puddles etc. Pet parents should try to adopt some of these tips to ensure your dog is fully hydrated and healthy this summer.