Hydration: what every pet owner should know
Water is vital to your pet's health, so it's important that you give them plenty of opportunities to keep themselves topped up. It's essential to give them water as and when they need it, because just a small 10 per cent fall in an animal's natural water content has serious effects on its health, while a 15 per cent loss can be life-threatening.
Signs that your pet is well hydrated:
- He's alert, with a nicely wet nose and gums.
- His eyes should be shiny.
- If you lift his skin gently at the shoulder, it bounces back into place rapidly. However, don't rely on this sign on its own, as it varies from animal to animal and breed to breed.
- Your pet's urine should be a pale yellow colour.
Is your pet dehydrated?
Dehydration, on the other hand, can be hard to judge. There are laboratory tests that your vet can do if dehydration is suspected, for example if they have suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting. Your vet will also monitor your pet's hydration status during intravenous fluid therapy, because over-hydration can also be very dangerous.
For the healthy pet, the simplest way of ensuring he or she is correctly hydrated is to provide access to fresh drinking water at all times. For some animals this may require some forethought. If you are the owner of a cat that eats wet food, you may be barely aware of your pet drinking, because much of a cat's water can be derived from its food. Cats are also particular about their drinking water. They will often turn up their noses at a bowl, preferring to lap from a pond or muddy puddle. Some will take to cat water fountains. These usually work by circulating water from a reservoir, so it is important to replace the water daily.
What do you think? Do you have problems with your pet drinking? What other signs should owners look out for? Leave your comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.