Importance of Proper Hydration for a Dog
Having a fit and healthy dog requires a combination of regular exercise and proper feeding of appropriate foods. Most readers of SlimDoggy.com are well aware of this. There is another aspect to ensuring a fit and healthy dog that does not get as much attention as diet and exercise: proper hydration.
How Water Helps a Dog’s Body
Dogs need adequate amounts of water each day so that their body can perform key functions. Some of the key ways water is used by the body include:
- Ensure that blood is able to transport and deliver nutrients where and when they are needed in the body.
- Help flush toxins out of the body.
- Regulate body temperature.
- Keep muscles and ligaments pliable.
Although most dogs will instinctively know just how much water they need, some dogs don’t drink enough water, while others drink too much. If a dog doesn’t drink enough water, they can become at risk for urinary tract issues like kidney stones, and organ failure. Conversely, drinking too much water can be toxic.
Signs that a Dog is Drinking Too Little or Too Much Water
There are two simple checks that can be used to determine if your dog is under-hydrating. First, lift a pinch of skin at the back of the neck and let it go. The skin should quickly return to its normal location. A dehydrated dog’s skin will take longer to fall back into place and might create a tent like pattern as it falls back. A second check is to examine a dog’s gums, which should be moist and slick. Gums that are sticky or otherwise appear dry mean that the dog is not getting enough water.
Some dogs will drink too much water which can also be unhealthy. Some of the signs of over-hydration include lethargy, bloating, loss of coordination, vomiting, glazed eyes, and a light gum color.
Why it’s Important to Monitor a Dog’s Water Consumption
A dog’s hydration habits can be an indicator of good health but can also point to potential underlying illness. Under-hydrating can be a sign that something is wrong internally. Pancreatitis and parvovirus are two diseases that will tend to result in a dog drinking too little water. Conversely, diabetes, bladder infections, or Cushing’s disease, can lead to an increase in thirst. If you notice a change in your pet’s hydration habits, it is prudent to have them checked out by your veterinarian.
Next week, I will provide hydration guidelines as well as some tips to ensure that your dog is well hydrated.