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Drinking enough water is essential to keeping our pets healthy, but oftentimes they don’t hit the water bowl enough. Just as dehydration affects our mood, productivity and health, it affects our pets, too. For advice on keeping our best friends happy and hydrated, we spoke to Dr. Zay Satchu of Bond Vet who offered five vet-approved ways for getting dogs and cats excited about drinking water.
A consistently full water bowl is a huge factor in our pets’ hydration levels. Fresh water is just as appealing to dogs as it is to humans and will encourage them to drink more. Satchu recommends replacing your pet’s water at least once a day. Automatic refillable bowls, available for both cats and dogs, will keep your pet’s bowl full so you don’t need to worry while you’re stuck in back-to-back meetings. They’re spill-resistant, come in a variety of sizes and are easy to clean — which is a must, according to Satchu, who recommends at least one deep clean a week to avoid drool and hair buildup in the bowl.
If a full water bowl isn’t enticing enough, try a water fountain (a favorite for cats, Satchu says). The constant flow of fresh water, which mimics running water from a hose or kitchen tap, motivates pets to drink from something that hasn’t been sitting out all day. Don’t forget fountain filters to keep their water clean, remove unwanted hair, and extend the life of the fountain. Satchu suggests cleaning fountains and replacing filters at least every two to four weeks, depending on the number of pets using the bowl, and doing a daily check to make sure the fountain’s working properly.
Another reason for pet dehydration is a lack of places to drink. Satchu says to look out for common signs of a thirsty dog, like dry nose, heavy panting and slow movements, and don’t wait until they’re showing signs of dehydration. Portable bottles and bowls give them the opportunity to hydrate wherever and whenever they need it.
If you still aren’t sure of your pet’s water needs, Satchu recommends skin tenting, or gently pinching and lifting your pet’s skin to see if it falls back into place quickly (hydrated) or if it’s stiff and doesn’t return to normal (dehydration). Also, healthy, hydrated gums are pink and moist, so if they’re pale, or stick to your finger instead of gliding, your pet may be experiencing dehydration and need water — or, in more serious cases, a trip to the vet.
If you’re looking for more creative ways to keep your cat or dog hydrated, you can try offering some wet food — either as their main meal, in a separate dish or sprinkled on their dry food as a “topper.”
Reach out to your vet to find out the appropriate amount of wet food to give them based on their breed and health. If you want to add wet food mixed in or as a topper, remember to subtract some of their solid food to keep calories down. When it comes to wet food, whether mixed in or separate, Satchu recommends picking up the bowl after an hour or so to keep it from sitting out at room temperature for too long and going bad.
Just like us, our pets love a sweet, hydrating snack, especially during the warmer months. Homemade popsicles (or pupsicles) can easily be made from ingredients like unsweetened yogurt, watermelon, strawberries, and xylitol-free peanut butter.
To avoid teeth damage from constant crunching, Satchu recommends supervising your pet or making smaller and softer pupsicle cubes. Just pour the mix into ice cube trays with a dog biscuit as the popsicle stick to prevent potential choking. Freeze overnight, or for an hour or two for a softer crunch to protect their teeth if they are too impatient to lick. There’s even dog-friendly ice cream if you’re not into DIY!
If your pet wasn’t getting enough water, these tips should help get them happy and healthy again. But of course, if any problems persist, make sure to give your vet a ring!
Written by Thelma Annan. Thelma is a California girl shivering her way through New York winters and sweating through its summers. Travels often, Rihanna-obsessed, and has a great love for alpacas.