Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Your Pet Needs Water Too! Tips to Recognize and Avoid Dehydration

excerpt from AAHA Pets Matter Newsletter

Bea fka Beijing

Why water?

About 60% to 80% of your pet’s body is made up of water. It dissolves substances—like food—and carries nutrients through the body. Almost all of the processes and chemical reactions that keep the body running, including digestion and circulation, rely on water.

Water helps the body to filter out waste, and it regulates body temperature through evaporation. Dehydration can cause serious problems, including kidney and heart damage.

What should you do?

Make sure that your pet always has a clean bowl of fresh water. For small animals like pocket pets, a bottle of water works best. If your pet spends time outdoors, be sure to put bowls of water indoors and outside.

How much water does your pet need?

Every day, most pets should drink 28 milliliters (one ounce) of water for every pound they weigh. This means that a 40-pound dog needs about one liter (about one quart) of water every day; a 10-pound cat needs about one-fourth of a liter (approximately 1.25 cups).

You don't really need to measure every drop of water you give to your pet. Most healthy animals that have access to clean water will drink what they need.

What if your cat or dog becomes dehydrated?

If you're worried that your pet isn't drinking enough water, or if you see signs of dehydration like sunken eyes or dry gums, take your pet to the veterinarian. If your pet is dehydrated, your veterinarian can administer intravenous fluids and—just as important—find out what caused the problem.

These are some of the beginning signs of dehydration in dogs:

Visibly tired
Slowed pace/ Less animation
Excessive panting, signs of warmth
Changes in attitude (i.e. appears more apprehensive)
Eyes appear sunken and lack moisture
Dry mouth, gums, nose

The intermediate signs are:

The skin loses elasticity- Pinch a little skin between your thumb and forefinger on your dog's back. When you release it, it should pop back into place immediately. As the tissue under the skin loses moisture, the skin moves back more slowly. In extreme cases, the skin doesn't pop back.

Delayed capillary refill time- Place your index finger firmly against the gums so that they appear white. Remove your finger and see how quickly the blood returns to the gums.

The time it takes for the gums of a dehydrated dog to return to their pink state will be slower than normal. Rectal temperature remains greater than 105° F

Tips To Avoid Dehydration:

Maintaining a constant fluid level is as important in dogs as it is in humans.
1. Dogs lose a lot of water while panting. Leave two or three bowls filled with water around the house, so that he gets enough to drink.

2. If he has not had a good drink for a long time, start re- hydration slowly ... allowing your dog a few sips every few minutes. Overdrinking after a dry spell can quickly lead to vomiting and he may end up losing more fluids than he had.

3. Don't let your dog drink excessive amounts of water after a strenuous exercise session.

4. Wait a few minutes after your dog has exerted in very heavy exercise and then allow frequent but small amounts every few minutes.

5. If your dog is showing some signs of dehydration, give him electrolyte mixed in water. While water helps in replenishing a lot of nutrients, electrolyte can do the job more quickly.

6. Dogs who have gone a long time without water have a problem holding it down. So let him lick ice, he hydrates himself with licking the ice.

7. If your dog refuses to drink for any extended period of time, consult your veterinarian

originally printed July/August 09

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