The Importance of Hydration for Dogs
The Importance of Hydration for Dogs
Did you know that July is Pet Hydration Awareness Month? If you read our recent blog about World Ocean Day, you read about how our bodies are made up of 50% water. Our dogs are also made up of around 50% water. In this blog post we will discuss the importation of keeping your dog hydrated, best practices for keeping your dog hydrated in creative ways, and eco-friendly choices for bowls.
The Importance of Keeping Your Dogs Hydrated
Water is critical to living creatures for many reasons. According to Sciencing, water helps all animals with temperature regulation, digestion, joint lubrication, and energy production. True Care Veterinary Hospital explains that the job of water is to “carry important nutrients into and out of the cells of the body” and that it “improves cognitive function and cushions the brain and spinal cord.” Essentially, every living creature needs to be properly hydrated not just to feel great, but for their very survival.
All dogs should have access to clean, cool water every single day. In order to keep their water supply fresh and free of debris and slobber, change the water once or twice a day. If your pet is crated while you are at work or away from the house for long periods of time, it is a best practice to leave a bowl of water in their crate while you are away. One pet owner who we know noticed that when her dog woke her in the middle of the night, he went straight to his water bowl rather than the door to go outside. She has since started providing a bowl of water for him in the bedroom, which he drinks from nightly.
How Do You Know if Your Pets are Properly Hydrated?
According to PetMd, “dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8 of a cup) per pound of body weight each day.” Of course, most of us do not measure the amount of water that our dogs consume. If you have multiple pets drinking from the same bowl, it is difficult if not impossible to know which pet drank how much of the water supply.
As a result, it good to know the signs of dehydration in dogs. The American Kennel Club states that the warning signs of dehydration in dogs include “loss of skin elasticity, loss of appetite, vomiting, reduced energy, panting, sunken, dry-looking eyes, dry nose, dry/sticky gums, and thick saliva.”
The Best Ways to Hydrate Your Dog
If your dog has access to fresh water but shows of the signs of dehydration, you might need to get creative to encourage them to consume more water. You can do this by adding water to their food or making their water more appealing.
Adding wet food or some water to your pet’s dry food is a great way to increase hydration. You can also add pet-safe fruits and vegetables that have a high water content to their meals. Some ideas include watermelon, apples, pumpkin, and green beans. You can also find supplements like goat’s milk that you can add to your pet’s food. If adding a supplement like goat's milk, we recommend choosing a pet brand with a good reputation and safe manufacturing practices.
If your tap water has a strong odor, your dog may avoid drinking it. Certain areas of the country have water that is heavily chlorinated. Other areas have water that contains hydrogen sulfide, so that the water smells like rotten eggs. When you consider how strong your dog’s sense of smell is, it makes sense that strong smelling water might be unpleasant to them. To remedy this, you can use a water filtration system to remove these odors. Using a water filtration pitcher like the Aquagear pitcher is an easy way to provide your dog odorless water.
You can also add things like a bit of tuna water or a teaspoon or two of bone broth to a bowl of water and offer it as a special treat. This should be in addition to their regular water bowl not in place of that water source. If adding bone broth, we recommend using an option made specifically for pets to ensure that you are not adding too much salt or other ingredients that could be harmful to your pet.
Some dogs love chewing ice cubes. We even have friends whose German Shorthaired Pointer learned how to work the ice maker! You can also flavor ice cubes with some of the liquid from wet food or bone broth to make them more appealing. You will want to use a separate ice cube tray so that your own cubes do not taste like tuna. We have seen some cute paw shaped ice cube trays made of food-grade silicone.
Biofilm and Your Dog’s Water Bowl
It may seem a bit high maintenance to recommend that you wash your dog’s water bowl every day with soap and water. After all, some dogs drink from all sorts of disgusting sources, from mud puddles to anywhere they see standing water. But if you are not washing their bowl daily – or at least weekly - right now, here’s one word that will convince you to start doing so: biofilm.
According to canine nutrition expert Rodney Habib, in an article for Dogs Naturally Magazine, “Biofilm is a collection of organic and inorganic, living and dead materials collected on a surface. It is made up of many different types of bacteria bound together in a thick substance that acts as a glue to both hold the bacteria together and adhere it to a surface.”
Habib recommends changing the water daily and cleaning the bowl weekly. In the same article in Whole Dogs Naturally, he says, “After a wonderful discussion with a well-known pro-active veterinarian/scientist, when she studied the bacteria looming in pets’ water bowls she found if you have a healthy beast, biofilm can actually be full of wonderful, healthy bacteria. It’s like playing in the mud as kids and having good bacteria all over you! So sometimes cleaning regularly can wash all the good stuff away.”
Whether you wash your dog’s bowl daily or weekly is up to you and your schedule. If your dog has a compromised immune system or suffers from an illness, you should consider washing it more frequently than if your dog is healthy.
Eco-Friendly Bowls and Water for Your Dog
In a perfect world, all the pet bowls available for sale would be safe for your pet to use. Unfortunately, many dog bowls have been found to contain toxins like BPAs, lead, aluminum, phthalates, and even arsenic.
Today, it is easier than ever to find pet bowls that are made using safe materials and practices. Stainless steel, ceramic, and bamboo pet bowls are usually the safest options. We recommend that you thoroughly research the specific manufacturer of each bowl and purchase direct from their site rather than through a big box retailer.
Basis Pet is a reliable source of stainless-steel pet bowls. Weather Tech also launched a toxin free pet bowl line after the founder lost his Golden Retriever to cancer. Emerson Creek Pottery offers lead-free ceramic pet bowls. They offer several styles that can be personalized with your pet’s name, made in their studio in Virginia.
Keeping Your Pets Hydrated While on Adventures
According to outdoor experts at REI, you should take 16 ounces of water for every hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. The American Hiking Society suggests that you take 8 ounces of water per dog for every hour of activity.
When you are preparing for an outdoor adventure with your dog, it is better to overestimate the amount of water you need. The last thing you want is to run out of water and risk becoming dehydrated. You can find several different options for eco-friendly travel pet bowls that collapse into a lightweight, packable size.