By: Laurie Brzostowski
Written by: Stacey Kalinnikova
The body requires water for daily functions including transportation of nutrients, digestion, toxin removal, and proper organ function. Keeping track of your dog or cat’s water intake is essential for early identification of potential diseases. Below are some helpful tips for monitoring your pets water intake.
1. Determine the normal values
A base line can be determined by filling up your dog or cat’s water bowl with a measured amount of water, then coming back and measuring the amount left over after a certain time interval to calculate the consumed volume. This should be assessed over several days to calculate an average.
Normal water intake for dogs and cats is 50 mL per kg of bodyweight each day.
2. Be aware of varying factors
There are several factors that affect the normal values for water intake.
Diet - Canned diets contain a 70-80% water content. This allows pets to obtain a significant amount of hydration from their food, unlike dogs and cats that are fed solely on dry food.
Weather - Since water is involved in regulating body temperature, animals will naturally consume more water when exposed to warmer weather.
Activity level - Water is also involved in energy expenditure, therefore it is normal for pets to require more water during periods of exercise.
Pharmaceuticals - A common side effect of many medications and supplements is a variation in thirst levels. If you have noticed an increase in drinking and urination after introduction of a certain medication, you should relay this information to your veterinarian.
3. Know the signs of dehydration and over-hydration
Dehydration will lead to inadequate water levels in the body for essential life functions. Dehydration can cause indigestion, toxin build up, and organ damage. Signs of dehydration include lethargy, dry and tacky gums, loss of skin elasticity, sunken in eyes, and concentrated urine.
Over-hydration can be a precursor for water intoxication leading to low sodium levels in the blood, electrolyte imbalances, and swelling of blood cells. Signs of over-hydration include excessive salivation, pale gums, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, bloat, lethargy, and difficulty breathing.
Deviation from normal levels of water intake can be an early indicator of disease. Monitor your pets water consumption regularly. If you notice the symptoms of either over-hydration or dehydration as described above, consult your veterinarian.