It's difficult to tell if your pet is dehydrated.
Pets get most of their hydration through food and water. This is not so much a problem for dogs who tend to eat wetter food and drink when they need, but a cat’s diet can be predominantly dry food and they’re not famous for drinking a lot
Many cats may even live in a continuous state of low-grade dehydration, so it’s important to keep an eye on them.
A quick way to check is ‘skin tenting’. Just lift the skin on the neck near the head. A hydrated animals skin will snap back immediately whereas a dehydrated pet’s skin will stay upright like a tent for a while.
Pets should urinate two to three times a day and they should have a shiny coat. Take note if they are lethargic or dopey. This can also be a sign of dehydration.
As a rule, dogs should drink about 90mls of water per kilo of bodyweight each day, and cats about 45mls per kilo. (More if the weather is hotter). A good way to prevent dehydration in pets is to keep multiple bowls of fresh water around the house and make sure you change it every day.
An interesting cat fact! Believe it or not, cats prefer running water over still water. Try a water fountain like the Catit Flower Feeder below.
Recognising dehydration: Signs & symptoms
Your pet’s body consists of about 80% water, which helps maintain their circulation, digestion and waste removal. When the amount of water diminishes, these essential body functions are unable to work as well as they’re meant to, causing dehydration.
All dogs can suffer from heat stress, but those with shorter noses, like bulldogs, pugs and boxers, tend to be at higher risk as they are not as good as long-nosed dogs in regulating their body temperatures. Cats can also be affected by heat stress, however, their symptoms may be more subtle than those your dog will display.
Common symptoms of dehydration to watch out for in pets:
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased skin elasticity
- Excessive drooling
- Increased bodu temperature
Take your buddy to your local PETstock VET to be checked out immediately if you notice any of these signs
How to avoid heatstroke
Heatstroke is the most serious form of heat illness and needs to be treated as soon as symptoms begin. Heatstroke occurs when your pets natural cooling system is no longer able to cool the body allowing heat to build up to dangerous levels.
If your dog or cat is suffering from heat stress, they may initially show signs like:
Once these symptoms start to appear, the effects of heat stress can escalate quickly causing:
- Breathing to become laboured and difficult
- A bright red tongue and gums
- Thick or sticky saliva
If you suspect your buddy is suffering from heat stress, try to cool them down immediately with the below tips:
Contact your local VET as a matter of urgency and prepare to transport your buddy to the clinic. Take some wet towels for the trip and have the air-conditioning going to maintain a cooling effect. This early intervention before arriving at your VET can often be lifesaving.
- Gently place them into a cool bath (never cold water, as this can exacerbate the problem>.
- Wipe their body with a cool, wet towel.
- Run a gentle water stream from a hose over their body.
More tips for keeping pets cool
Tip from Dr Hay
- Always make sure your pet is kept cool – using cooling collars (available in selected stores) or ice-packed jackets, ensure air-conditioning is on and monitor your pet closely when outside (Tip from Dr Hay).
- When possible, bring your pet inside to escape the heat.
- Fill your pet’s water bowls with ice cubes to keep the water cooler for longer.
- Freeze some treats! PETstock has a huge range of delicious treats, or try freezing watermelon, apple or cucumber for a tasty snack.
- Avoid exercising during hot weather, walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Avoid walking on hot bitumen or sand that may burn your buddy’s sensitive pads.
- Always have a shady spot for them to rest.
- Swimming is a great way for dogs to get some exercise and stay cool! If you aren’t near a beach or river, a small paddling pool is a great alternative.
- Never, ever, leave an animal in a car. Leaving your pet in a hot car can lead to serious injury and even death. If you see a pet in an unattended car on a hot day, call 000.
Hydration tips for other pets
- Use a spray bottle filled with water to help keep your feathery friends cool this summer
- A birdbath is also a great option. Ensure the bath is deep enough for your bird to have a splash around, but not so deep they cannot get out on their own. If you are concerned that your bird may not be able to get out on their own, use a large rock that they can climb onto.
- Ensure your fish tank is away from windows and direct heat.
- If you notice the temperature in your tank is rising, you can float frozen bottles of water in the top of your tank. You can then remove these once the temperature is back to normal.
- Bunnies, ferrets and guinea pigs are very sensitive to heat. It’s essential their hutch is kept in a cool, shady place and brought inside on days when the weather gets too hot.