We are constantly reminded to drink 8 glasses of water a day and eat only till we’re 70% full. But what do we do instead? Drink 4 glasses and eat till we’re 110%. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the same situation for our pets.
While it’s easy to see if your pet is overweight, not everybody knows if they are getting enough hydration.
Water is so essential to every being’s physiological functions that it literally take a book to describe them all in detail. In fact, when scientists are looking for possible lifeforms on other planets, water would be on of the condition they’d look for first.
Combined with commercial diets, lack of hydration leads to urinary tract infections (extremely common with cats), kidney and liver problems. Ask any vet the percentage of senior dogs suffering from any of them resulting from not drinking enough water.
But on the other hand, excessive drinking can be a signal to a variety of problems as well, including liver and kidney disease, diabetes and hormonal disorders.
So how much is just right?
Ideally, both cats and dogs should be getting 60ml of water per kilogram of bodyweight. But even vets would say it’s okay if 70-80% of the recommended amount is achieved, give and take moisture obtained from wet food. I don’t think we’re even that strict with ourselves. (*On a side note, I recently adopted the habit of drinking at least 3 litres of water and I do feel more energetic!)
How to measure?
- Calculate how much water your pet should be consuming. (e.g. A 5kg Maltese should be drinking approximately 60ml x 5kg = 300ml of liquid daily)
- Measure and provide the recommended amount.
- Measure the amount left over 24 hours later.
- Repeat Step 2.
- Always measure and refill at the same time of the day so that you’ll have a more accurate gauge of how much water your pets are consuming.
How to check for proper hydration?
So even though your pet is optimally hydrated, there are times (e.g. When its ill, having diarrhea or vomiting, lactating, long hours outdoor in the sun etc.) when you’d need to check if your pet is dehydrated. First, you can do so by pulling the skin above the shoulder blades and a well hydrated skin will snap back quickly into place. Secondly, you can also check their gums. If it’s tacky and dry, it’s poorly hydrated.
How to ensure they don’t drink too much or too little?
Drinking too little:
- Positive reinforcement: Praise your pet and give’em treats every time your pet takes a drink. It worked for my dog real quick.
- Beef it up: Add pork or beef stock or what ever stock you’re cooking into their water. However, I suggest that you only do this occasionally. The same reason why so many people are addicted to soft drinks no?
- If they’re being fed dried food, try adding a liberal amount of water into their food.
Drinking too much:
- Feed them using a bottle instead, because water is dispensed a little at a time. But because there’s usually a lot of dripping when drinking from a bottle, so you’d have to take that into account when calculating how much water is being consumed.
- If feeding from a doggie bottle doesn’t seem to decrease the amount consumed, try using a big rabbit drinking bottle. The nozzle has a smaller diameter so even lesser water is being dispensed.
- If there’s always someone at home, you can also try rationing the water, dividing the recommended amount into several portions and giving them one portion every few hours. You’d have to use this method if your pet doesn’t know how to drink from a bottle.