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July is Pet Hydration Awareness Month

Written for Jupiter Pet Emergency and Specialty Center, July 2019

Summer is definitely upon the Treasure Coast, and with it, extreme temperatures and more water activities.  Therefore, it is important to monitor your pet’s water intake to ensure they are not dehydrated, or alternatively, do not suffer from water intake toxicity.

Healthy animals will regulate their own hydration as long as they have free access to clean, fresh water.  Just as we will drink more water based on activity, temperature, humidity and diet, so will our pets.  There are ways to encourage cats and dogs to ingest more water, these are just a few:

  • Have multiple bowls of fresh, clean water easily accessible
  • Pet water fountains are preferable to some cats and dogs
  • Clean water bowls with soap and water frequently
  • Adding ice cubes or small amounts of bone broth to water
  • Adding water to food
  • Offering some prepackaged wet food, which is about 70% water

Signs of dehydration are not always obvious until an animal is very sick.  Signs to watch for, especially if a pet has been outside or playing hard recently are:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Tacky feeling or dry gums
  • Prolonged skin turgor
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dark yellow or infrequent urine
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased interest in food
  • Excessive panting
  • Acute inability to stand or walk

If any of these signs are observed, get your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately!

Alternatively, some animals may ingest too much water and can experience a toxicity related to electrolyte disruption.  Fresh water and salt water can cause water toxicity.  Fresh water depletes electrolytes that the body needs for survival, and salt water causes hypernatremia, which is an overdose of sodium.  Both can be fatal within a matter of hours.  Often times, pets will experience water toxicity when they are playing in or near water and consume too much through play.  Examples are playing with the sprinkler or hose, swimming and fetching in the water or playing in the waves at the beach.  Other causes occur when pets do not have access to fresh, clean water and drink salt or brackish water out of desperation.  Signs of water toxicity include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting large amounts of water
  • Loss of coordination
  • Bloating
  • Large pupils
  • Dazed or confused mentation
  • Collapse
  • Breathing issues
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

There are ways to prevent both dehydration and water toxicosis.  Closely monitor your pets while playing, and force them to take breaks or go inside frequently.  Have adequate drinking water available for them at all times.  Play with flat toys that don’t absorb water.  If you have any concerns, call your veterinarian or our emergency service at, 561-741-4041 Extension: 1

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