Water and Your Pet’s Health:
Creative Ways to Keep your Pet Healthy and Hydrated
By Arden Moore – The Pet Health and Safety Coach™
Every body, including human, feline, or canine, is made up of about 70 percent water. All of us, including our pets, need adequate amounts of water each day to stay healthy and hydrated. Water helps usher oxygen and needed nutrients to every cell in the body while flushing out toxins with the production of urine. It keeps kidneys functioning, lubricates joints, and helps regulate body temperature. Without the right balance of water a host of health problems can ensue including deterioration of oral health and a very serious issue – dehydration.
Water is important but it can be a challenge convincing our pets to lap up enough water. Dogs and cats need to drink roughly about an ounce of water per pound of body weight. A cat or Chihuahua needs far less water a day than giant breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards. What’s the water personalities of your pets? Are you blessed to have cats and dogs who dutifully drink adequate amounts of water every day? Or, are you challenged to coax your pet to drink? Does your pet take delight in spilling water out of bowls on to your kitchen floor? Do you find yourself frustrated by cats who can’t resist turning on bathroom faucets with their paws? Emma, my little terrier mix, will bypass the water bowl after a walk. Rusy, my orange tabby, prefers drinking water from a dripping faucet rather than from the always-cleaned, always-filled water bowl in the mud room.
TIPS TO HELP YOU UP YOUR PET’S WATER INTAKE
Here are some strategies to consider to help the water consumption by your pet:
- Consider switching from kibble to canned food, especially for your senior pet. Canned foods contain more moisture and are easier to digest.
- Up the stock value of water for dogs like my Emma, who don’t drink a lot of water. I add bone broth in her food bowl so she stays hydrated and benefits from the broth that is rich in collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin and magnesium. Just make sure the homemade bone broth you make or the commercially prepared one does not contain salt or garlic. Another option is to add water-based tuna juice into the bowl.
- Provide bowls that pass the sniff test. Keep bowls clean and change the water on a daily basis. Cats and dogs have great noses. Treat them to stainless-steel water bowls that contain no dyes or paints and can be easily cleaned in dishwashers. Avoid plastic bowls because they can absorb odors and trap bacteria and can cause skin irritations.
- Place water bowls in various locations in your home and keep them apart from food bowls and especially keep away from litter boxes. “No creature likes to eat or drink near their toilet,” says Liz Bales, VMD, a veterinarian, author and inventor of The Indoor Hunting Feeder for cats. She also serves on advisory boards for the AAFP cat friendly practice and Fear Free Pets. “Additionally, cats communicate through scent. Feline urine and feces contain scent. It says to the world, ‘I am here’ and that can make the cat feel vulnerable to perceived predators. It is hard for a cat to relax and feel safe drinking next to his litter box.”
- Offer your pet water-packed treats like seedless watermelon. We discovered that Emma loves, loves, loves watermelon. So, after she returns from a walk and bypasses the water bowl, we offer her chunks of fresh watermelon to eat. Win-win!
- Pet water fountains are great for cats who love to drink from moving water and enjoy water play, like my Rusty. A fountain can encourage more drinking and enables you to save on your water bill by not letting the bathroom sink faucet steadily drip. To prevent any algae or bacteria buildup in water fountains, replace the filters as recommended by the manufacturer.
LOOK OUT FOR WATER-RELATED DANGER SIGNS
Keep tabs on the drinking and potty habits in your cat and your dog. Serve as your pet’s detective and report any changes to your veterinarian. Pay close attention to changes in behavior. Such as drinking less or more than usual. If there is a medical issue, the sooner you bring your veterinarian into the loop, the sooner the diagnosis (and hopefully) a treatment can be discussed.
- Quantity of water: Pay attention to how much water your cat drinks. Any deviations in your cat’s habit, such as increased thirst, could indicate early stages of diabetes as well as kidney or liver disease. Excessive drinking of water is often a bad sign in cats as the number one killer of cats is kidney disease
- Litterbox changes: Assess the size and number of his urine clumps in the litter box. If your cat is drinking his usual amount of water each day, but you do not find any urine clumps in the litter box – or they have shrunk in size – seek prompt veterinary attention. It could indicate a blockage in the urethra, a bladder infection or urinary stones or crystals. These all can be major medical emergencies and cats are notorious for
- Quantity of water: Dogs who start consuming large amounts of water may be developing Cushing’s disease or the onset of diabetes, kidney or liver issues or an infection.
- Changes in urination: Urinary tract infections can be common in dogs. If you notice the odor of the urine is different, she is urinating less frequently or is needing to be let out more more often can all be scenarios that merit prompt veterinary attention.
Adequate water intake is a careful balance. It is also important to note the quality of water is very important as well. Many pet parents often overlook the need to keep bathroom doors closed to prevent toilet bowl drinking. Sure, to a thirsty dog, the toilet simply provides a giant porcelain oasis of fresh, cool water in a huge bowl that never moves or tips over and is always full. While the water in a toilet bowl may be cleaner and safer than puddles, lakes and ponds harboring germs and parasites, it’s good practice to strive to keep the lids down and the bathroom doors shut.
On a closing note, water rules when it comes to keeping our cats and dogs healthy. Another good practice to keep your pets’ healthy is to incorporate good dental hygiene with your pet’s water intake. This can be easily accomplished with a veterinarian-approved drinking water additive. Each morning, I add two pumps of Oratene® Enzymatic Brushless Drinking Water Additive into my pets’ main water bowl in the dining room. In the past year, my veterinarian has given them all high marks for teeth and gum health. Oratene is flavorless and features two patented enzyme systems to battle plaque accumulation and odor-causing bacteria. Check it out at www.zymox.com.
I propose a healthy toast of H20. Cheers!
Arden Moore wears many collars in the pet world. She is a best-selling author, master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor, pet behavior consultant, host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and happy pet parent to a Furry Brady Bunch in Dallas. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.