Just like pet parents, dogs need to keep hydrated, most especially during the hot summer months. Adequate hydration is essential to good health, just like with humans. This is especially important during the summer or when your dog is doing plenty of outdoor activities. If your pup is an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll need to be especially careful to keep your dog hydrated.
Hydration in Dogs
We think about H20 when talking about hydration. Water makes up most of our bodies- as well as those of our furry best friends- and its role in maintaining optimal health goes unparalleled. But there are a few things you need to know.
Here’s the take:
- Water doesn’t work solely on its own. It interacts with numerous physiological pathways that uses it for maintaining essential everyday functions.
- Water helps with cellular health and the homeostatic balance of the blood, organs, and tissues.
Temperature Regulation in Dogs
Dogs don’t sweat, and during the hot summer months, most dog breeds have difficulty. Dogs lose heat by way of panting. Drinking fresh, cool water helps dogs hydrate and cool down. Dogs also need to exercise, and without regular exercise, your dog may develop behavioral and medical issues.
If your dog is healthy and is getting sufficient exercise that is not too strenuous, you’ll find that he’ll keep himself hydrated with plenty of cool fresh water. Keep in mind that dogs should never exercise vigorously during hot or humid days, especially senior dogs or dogs recovering from an illness or surgery. Try to keep long walks for early morning and evening during the hot summer months.
Canine Illness & Dehydration
We all love our dogs, but sometimes we may not see the subtle signs of illness. Perhaps your dog is not drinking as much water or eating his food. Symptoms of disease may include lack of appetite, thirst, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and sneezing. If your pet shows any of these signs, it’s always a good idea to visit your veterinarian.
If your dog needs to stay at the veterinarian due to an illness (dehydration related or not), your pet will be monitored closely for dehydration and to see whether a particular treatment is beneficial or whether other treatments will be required. If your dog is not eating or drinking, your veterinarian may provide nutrition through intravenous fluids.
Why Is Water So Important?
Water nourishes the body, and if your fur baby is dehydrated, his everyday functions become impaired. Cells need to be hydrated for intracellular processes to provide cellular respiration, energy, and growth. If your pup is not properly hydrated, his cells will not be able to function correctly. As dehydration progresses, neurological imbalances and decreased mental functions may occur.
Finally, cells may become diseased and die. Water also helps to move blood throughout the body and plays an optimal role in the immune system. Your dog’s immune system may stop functioning if he’s very dehydrated exposing him to illnesses.
So if your pup is dehydrated, his blood will not flow easily and becomes thick. Blood could also stall within the blood vessels, and when this occurs, your dog may be faced with blood circulation issues, clots, and even organ dysfunction.
Signs of Dehydration in Pets
Signs will differ according to the severity and any disease that may be occurring. If your pet is suffering from diarrhea, dehydration will be ongoing because of all the fluid losses. In this case, your dog will need to drink more water than he usually does to make up for what he loses and balance out the ongoing losses. Your veterinarian will do testing and administer an IV to help rehydrate your dog if he’s severely dehydrated. Here are the signs of dehydration:
- Skin and outer organs may become dry and brittle
- Skin will lose its elasticity
- The mouth will be dry and sticky
- Behavioral and neurological signs like restlessness and agitation.
- Abnormal and unsteady gait with severe dehydration
- Unable to stand with mental function becoming impaired as the dog becomes weaker.
- Dry mucous membranes
- Very sunken eyes
- Decreased urination
- Dry nose
- Eyes are weak looking
- Dry feces
- Neurological disturbances
- Rapid heart rate
- Coma & death
What is Fluid Therapy, and How Does It Help My Dehydrated Dog?
Fluid therapy helps to distribute fluid evenly throughout your dog’s body. It functions to rehydrate a dehydrated dog in an emergency and helps to save lives.
That said, too much water volume may result in swelling or edema. Your veterinarian will choose from a variety of fluids to meet specific body needs for your pup. If your puppy is suffering from an injury and is not drinking water, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog.
Dogs in pain often don’t show signs, so it’s up to you to know absolutely everything about your dog’s health. If your dog is on pain medications, he will be more comfortable, yet other conditions may be hard to spot.
Dental and Oral Issues
Numerous dental disorders in dogs may result in your dog not drinking water. Gum disease, tooth loss, and your dog’s response to the pain of a dental infection may result in dehydration.
Gingivitis and periodontitis need to be treated by a veterinarian, and regular teeth cleaning and at-home dental oral hygiene methods should be followed. Extensive dental cleanings below the gum line need to be included in the treatment plan.
That said, dental issues with tissue damage are painful for all dogs, and pet parents need to closely monitor their dog’s teeth, tongue, and mouth. Because drinking water is an essential part of your dog’s health, always seek urgent veterinary care if your dog stops drinking water.
Avoid Dirty Water
Your dog will need fresh water at all times. It’s necessary to empty and wash out water bowls and to provide cool fresh water at least twice daily. Dogs will not drink dirty or tainted water.
If you’ve recently moved, the water may have a different smell or unusual taste. Try bottled water for a few days until your dog is drinking again and gets used to the “new” water. This applies especially to “healthy” water in agricultural communities.
In some farming areas, well water may contain high levels of fluorides. There may also be wastes from industrial processes and the use of fertilizers. Fluoride toxicity will affect the enamel in your dog’s teeth, and very high fluoride levels may also result in death.
Your veterinarian will need to check for fluoride levels. Treatment usually includes calcium gluconate that is given intravenously. Magnesium hydroxide or milk is also given orally.
What’s the Best Water for Dogs?
We all worry about whether we should be giving our dogs tap water or bottled water. Today, most of us are paying more attention to what’s inside of what we drink and eat. We also do the same for our dogs.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) explains that tap water does not result in canine bladder cancer. However, long-term consumption of disinfected tap water treated with chemicals like chlorine does cause bladder cancer in people.
AVMA adds that there is “No association was detected between increasing years of exposure to chlorinated drinking water and risk of bladder cancer. Dogs with bladder cancer were exposed to higher total trihalomethanes concentrations than control dogs; however, the difference was not significant.
Although humans and their dogs live in the same household, the activity patterns of dogs may lead to lower exposures from household tap water. Thus, although exposure to disinfection by-products in tap water may be a risk factor for human bladder cancer, this may not be true for canine bladder cancer at the concentrations at which dogs are exposed. “So if your tap water is safe enough to drink, there’s no reason why your dog should not consume it too.”
Dogs are often affected by this. Ethylene Glycol poisoning happens when dogs consume radiator antifreeze. This has a sweet taste and only takes a small amount for dogs to die.
Dogs will first become very thirsty and then start vomiting. With a lack of coordination and other neurological symptoms, the dog will become more depressed and drink less until they become dehydrated and die. It is essential to take your pup to the emergency veterinarian if you suspect they have ingested antifreeze.
How to Hydrate Your Dog?
Your dog will naturally lose a given amount of water each day after exercise and regular physiological functions like breathing and excretion. You can easily maintain homeostatic balance by replacing the amount of water that your dog loses each day.
This is done in several ways and includes moisture from wet dog food and the intake of water and fluids. You should always do the following to ensure that your pup is well hydrated 24/7:
- Always provide fresh, clean water and change it a few times a day.
- Consider getting a water fountain since pets prefer fresh moving water.
- Pet food should also provide the correct moisture content.
- Avoid spending time outdoors when it’s super-hot, and if you do, ensure that there’s plenty of fresh water available
- If your pet has diarrhea, visit your vet early on since this can lead to dehydration
It’s no secret that all dogs need to drink plenty of fresh water to keep hydrated, just like humans do. When it comes to water, make sure that your pup has plenty of fresh, cool water every day. If caught in its early stages, dehydration is easy to fix, so if you suspect that your dog may be dehydrated, visit your veterinarian. This will save time, stress and prevent severe dehydration from occurring. As usual, ensure that you have comprehensive pet insurance to cover all your veterinary needs.
The key to keeping your dog healthy is being dedicated to understanding your dog’s health and giving your fur baby a healthy lifestyle. As always, have your pup checked out immediately by your veterinarian if your dog won’t drink water or if he shows any signs of illness or stress.