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We know many of you pet parents focus a lot of attention on your fur kid’s diet. Which we encourage because high quality food is essential to a long, healthy life. But hydration is equally important for dogs and cats. Keeping pets hydrated is a simple habit that can be an after thought for many of us. However, it is extremely important to keep our pets hydrated, especially during the hot and humid summer months in Kansas City where they may be losing more than they’re getting. In this blog, we’ll look at why hydration for dogs and cats is so important. We’ll also provide you with some practical tips to keep your pets hydrated!

Why is Hydration Important for my Pet’s Health?

Proper hydration is vital to the health and happiness of your pet. When our pets become dehydrated, they generally appear sluggish and fatigued. This is because the flow of oxygen to the brain is negatively impacted, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood through their body. This is hard work for their bodies! Proper hydration is essential for avoiding this and maintaining energy levels.

When your pet is adequately hydrated, they’re going to be able to regulate their body temperature better. This is achieved when your dog pants, which causes them to exhale and lose body moisture. A dehydrated pet is less likely to pant which causes their body temperature to run hotter, which can be a real health risk.

Staying hydrated will safeguard against preventable health problems like urinary tract issues. Your pets’ kidneys will also thank you because chronic dehydration can lead to severe and painful issues like kidney disease, kidney stones, and even kidney failure.

There are some typical early warning signs that your pet is dehydrated. As we mentioned, these can include low energy and excessive laziness. But if you’re unsure if your furry friend is just taking it easy because of hot weather, you can also check their mouth for additional clues. Dry mouth and gums will be a sure sign that they require some hydration. Another simple dehydration test is to pinch the skin on the back of your pet’s neck. Watch how quickly or slowly it returns into place. If fast, your pet is hydrated. If slow, it’s time to up that water intake!
More severe signs of dehydration include excessive panting, loss of appetite, and sunken eyes. Your pet may even begin vomiting or have diarrhea, which is extremely worrisome as there is even more moisture being lost from their bodies in these situations.

Truly a pet parent’s worst nightmare, but don’t worry, all of this is avoidable!

How Do I Keep My Pet Hydrated?

By following some easy and practical methods, you’ll be able to ensure your pet stays properly hydrated. You should always provide plenty of fresh water and bring water with you on trips and outdoor activities. You can also give access to running water and feed wet or moisture-soaked food. In case of emergency, having an oral electrolyte solution on hand can save the day as you head to the vet!

Fresh Water in the Home
Having access to fresh, clean water is the number one way to ensure hydration for dogs and cats. Water bowls should be big enough to accommodate all pets in your household, if you have more than one, and you may also consider placing multiple bowls throughout your home. Clean these bowls daily and re-fill them at least once a day.
Cleaning water bowls is essential to avoid the buildup of potentially harmful bacteria and eliminate any dirt or food particles your dog might introduce by sticking their face in the dish. Sometimes you’ll notice a slick, slimey coating forming on the bowl. This is what you want to clean off each time!

Bring Water with You
When you head out for a walk or take a car ride, you should always have water on hand. Even if you’re just going on a quick run to the store, or taking them for a checkup, it’s important to always carry water in case they need it.
Two-in-one water bottles with bowls are perfect for walks. They fill just like a water bottle, and the top of the bottle flips open to allow for easy drinking. If your pet doesn’t like drinking from one of these, you can opt for a collapsible bowl and simply used bottled water instead. Both options are super portable and make hydration for dogs and cats easy on the go!

Running Water
Some pets, especially cats, aren’t keen on drinking from water bowls. This is because the water in the bowl can grow stagnant, and some pets are less enthusiastic about drinking water that isn’t extremely fresh.  A pet water fountain keeps water circulating, giving fewer chances accumulating odors or bacteria.

Many fountains have built-in filtration systems, which is a great way to ensure your cat or dog is getting fresh, clean water constantly.

Hydrating Food Options
It may seem odd to talk about hydration when we discuss a pet’s food, but it’s actually a fantastic way to boost the moisture content in their diets.

One of the easiest ways is increase your pets hydration is to soak dry kibble in water before feeding. This way, when your dog or cat has their meal, they will be consuming the water as well. Some dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods that must be soaked prior to feeding offer additional hydration and many nutritional benefits thanks to less processing and whole food ingredients.
For finicky eaters, you can use bone broth or wet food toppers to stimulate your pet’s appetite and stay hydrated. Bone broth can also be used independently and is great for enticing a lethargic or reluctant pet to drink something when they’re being stubborn.
High-quality canned food is another moisture-filled option to incorporate into your pet’s diet. We typically recommend this route to keep cats hydrated. Wet food can be used as a topper or mixed with soaked kibble or dehydrated food as well.

Electrolyte Solutions for Pets
Electrolyte Supplements are great to have on hand in case of emergency situations, or to mix in with your pet’s food when you’re worried your dog or cat may be dehydrated. Electrolytes contain many essential nutrients vital to proper functioning of your dog and cat’s internal systems. Electrolytes should not be given regularly without consulting a vet. If you find yourself needing them regularly, contact your holistic vet.

Conclusion

Avoiding dehydration and learning how to spot the warning signs is important when the weather is hot, but this shouldn’t be out of mind during cooler spring and fall or winter seasons.

By making sure your pet always has enough water on hand and supplementing their hydration with some food tricks, you’ll be ensuring a healthier and happier fur kid.