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Is my Pet Drinking Too Much or Too Little?

July is known as National Pet Hydration Awareness Month! It was created in America to raise awareness on the importance of pet hydration especially during the three months of summer (Singaporeans: What? Only three months?).


For us in tropical Singapore, we’re unfortunately on the other side of the globe, where summer is (literally) the only season that we have, which makes hydration awareness an all-year round affair. This is why you should read on to learn how to keep your furry friends hydrated!


Signs of Dehydration

Did you know that our fur-riends are made up of 80% water, but we are only made up of 45-55% of water? No wonder they make very good cuddle buddies…

Throughout the day, your pet loses water from their bodies through breathing, urinating, defecating, panting, and sweating through their paw pads. It becomes a serious concern when they lose more water than they are taking in, inhibiting oxygen delivery which is key to the maintenance of a healthy body.


Common signs of dehydration to look out for include:

  • Dry nose, sticky and pale gums

  • Low energy or lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes

  • Damp paws

  • Constipation

  • Loss of skin elasticity

  • Panting


If you’re unsure about whether your furkid is dehydrated, you can find out using these two methods:

  1. Gum Check: If your pet’s gums feel dry and sticky, they may be dehydrated. The gums of a well-hydrated pet should be pinkish-red in colour, not pale or deep red. One easy way to check is to press gently on their gums. If their gum colour returns within 1-2 seconds upon releasing your finger, that’s good! If it takes more than 1-2 seconds for the gum colour to return, you should get your pet checked out at the vet.

  2. Skin ‘Tent’ Test: Gently pull up the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades and let go. Their skin should return back to the original position. If the skin stays ‘tented’, it indicates that they are dehydrated.


How much water should my pet drink everyday to avoid dehydration?

Here’s a basic guide to help you out!

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this is just a general guideline on how much water your pet should be drinking everyday. For professional advice, please consult with your family veterinarian.


Moisture Doesn’t Just Come From Water!

Daily water intake should not be assessed solely by how much water your pet drinks. A holistic approach is required when determining whether their water consumption is sufficient or not. It is important to take into consideration other lifestyle factors such as diet, personal preference, and activity levels when assessing water intake levels.


Moisture can be found in most pet foods - Dry kibbles contain 10% moisture and wet canned food contains about 80%. Water needs will vary depending on the diet fed - If your pet is fed exclusively dry food, they’re more likely to make frequent trips to the water bowl than pets who are fed a combination of wet and dry food. Regardless of their diet, you should try to encourage your pets to drink water because severe dehydration can lead to irreversible body damage and in worse cases, death.


Some tips on how to encourage drinking

  • Ensure your pet has access to clean and fresh drinking water at all times

  • Make it a habit to carry water with you, especially if you’re bringing your dog or cat out. In rare cases, access to clean water may be restricted or limited when you’re outdoors, so it’s always good to keep yourself prepared by carrying water with you

  • Clean the water bowl daily as it may be a breeding ground for bacteria

  • Mix water with food to increase water intake or feed bigger portions of wet canned food

  • Place multiple water bowls in different areas of the house to encourage frequent drinking

  • Consider using a water fountain (especially for cat pawrents!)


Compared to their canine counterparts, our feline friends evolved to get most of their moisture from meat, hence they do not consume as much water as dogs do. We recommend feeding Aatas Cat Creamy Wet Food as the broth encourages your cats to stay hydrated and nourished. Alternatively, you can try Nutripe PURE (Gum-Free) Wet Food, with green tripe as its main ingredient. Nutripe PURE contains nutrients essential to maintaining a healthy gut and keeps your canine and feline friends wanting more.


Overdrinking Isn’t Good Either!: Water Intoxication

Does your pet love water activities such as swimming or playing with garden sprinklers? Beware! They may be susceptible to water intoxication! Yes, it is possible and deadly!


Water intoxication (aka hyponatremia) occurs when water is consumed excessively, causing the loss in sodium. Sodium ensures body fluids are kept at healthy levels, functioning of muscles and nerves. Hence, when sodium falls, cells will be filled with water and start to swell, which will disrupt biological processes in the body.


Signs of Water Intoxication

If your pet is showing any of the following, please visit the veterinarian immediately for assistance.

  • Loss Of Coordination

  • Lethargy

  • Bloating

  • Vomiting

  • Glazed Eyes

  • Drooling

  • Difficulty Breathing

  • Seizures

  • Coma

  • Pale gums

  • Dilated pupils


Why Do Some Pets Over-Hydrate? Increased thirst is not a cause of concern when it is one-off, but it becomes a cause of concern when observed for more than a few days because your pet may drink more water due to boredom, heat, or something that they ate. If increased thirst becomes a common sight, it’s time to pay a visit to the vet. There could be many causes for over-drinking, but here are some common reasons why your pet may be excessively drinking:

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Diabetes,

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Kidney disease

  • Urinary tract disease

  • Diarrhea and vomiting


Do not attempt to self-diagnose. For a more accurate diagnosis, please consult the vet.


Although this article is intended to provide more information on pet hydration, a good understanding of their preferences is required to determine if their habits are harmless or require immediate medical attention.


Conclusion

The unbearable heat shouldn’t stop you from bringing your furkids out for some fun! But... make sure to watch out for signs of dehydration to avoid its devastating effects. The first step is to know the volume of your water bowl so that you know how much liquid they are consuming a day, and adjust their diet and lifestyle accordingly during warmer summers to keep pets well-hydrated!


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