How much water do cats and dogs really need? How can we make sure our pets are drinking enough water? What are the signs of dehydration? We were wondering about the details of pet hydration, so we hit the books and interviewed Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Holistic Housecall Veterinarian, to get all the hydration information to fill in the blanks.
This video is part of the Pet Voices PRESENTS series. CLICK HERE to see all the series videos.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:02
When it comes to knowing whether you’re hydrated, it’s a lot more simple than it is to know if your pet is hydrated. But hydration is really important for them, for their health, and their happiness.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:11
Do you know how to tell if your cat or dog is getting enough water in their diet? Or worst case, if they might be dehydrated? And if they are dehydrated, what should you do? How can you entice them to consume more water?
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:25
We wanted to start at the beginning, how much water do they even need? So, we went to an expert. We asked Dr. Patrick Mahaney, who is a veterinarian out in L.A. and even does house calls. We asked him what the baseline was. How much water do dogs and cats truly just need on a day to day basis? And here, is what he said.
HOW MUCH WATER DOES YOUR PET NEED?
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Holistic Housecall Veterinarian – 0:45
Cats and dogs have different water requirements. Cats generally have less of a requirement than dogs in part due to their genetics but also sometimes related to their lifestyle. Cats tend to be indoors and less active. Most dogs tend to be outdoors and more active and so they are going to be burning off more water just by living their day to day lives.
So, I’d probably say, thinking about a 10 lb cat. A 10 lb cat would probably drink about 200 ml per day, so about 1/10 of a liter for example. While your average dog at 10 lbs is probably going to drink closer to about 350 ml per day. So, not a huge difference but it’s something that is notable. You have to definitely make sure that dog is going to get more water into him on a day to day basis than the cat.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 1:31
Milliliters? What even are milliliters? Here in America I feel like we hardly ever use the metric system. We like our more unique units of measure, our cups and our ounces. So, what are milliliters, Chloe?
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 1:45
I poured it in here in this little metric to ounces measuring cup and 350 ml, which was the 10 pound dog, is just about 12 ounces, slightly under. It’s like a cup and a half. But he said, 200 ml for a cat. So, let’s pour out and get to 200 to see what it is for a cat. There we go. It is just about six ounces, a little over. I don’t even think that’s that much water when you put it into ounces.
And since dogs and cats are made up somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of water, it feels like getting those milliliters, those are important to get into their system, wouldn’t you agree?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:38
Absolutely, especially since humans are only about 60%. So the fact that cats and dogs are actually a higher percentage of water than we are, we should really be making sure that they stay hydrated.
SIGNS YOUR PET IS DEHYDRATED
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:51
Absolutely. An interesting thing to think about, that we talked about in the beginning, is how can you tell? We love our pets a lot, but they don’t talk to us. When we think about what are the signs of dehydration, so that we can be in the know, a little bit aware, and ensure they get enough water. Jessica, I know you’ve got a good story.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:12
I do. As a pet parent, it’s the worst feeling in the world to wake up and hear your dog or cat retching, then throwing up, and having to deal with that at 3 AM. It’s even worse when that dog or cat does it again, again, and again. That’s what happened. My dog, Luna, was throwing up constantly. She kept throwing up. So I panicked, and I took her to the vet. It turns out that she was severely dehydrated. I had missed a whole bunch of signs to tell me that.
But luckily it was remedied pretty quickly. My vet was able to kind of inject her with a hydration bubble, made her look a little bit like a hunchback, but it seeped into her body to let her absorb those fluids over the course of the next 24 hours.
So, on that note, what were the signs that I missed? I was really wondering, so we went back to talk to Dr. Patrick Mahaney and asked him, what are other common signs of dehydration that we should look out for?
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Holistic Housecall Veterinarian – 4:14
Some of the signs to look for for dehydration and they’re numerous and sometimes there is some subjective activity to it.
Number one, if your pet is acting lethargic. If you don’t have as much fluid circulating around your body, your blood gets very thick, and it tends to be stored in your body for your more important organs like your brain, your heart, your lungs, your kidneys, and liver. So, your muscles are not going to get as much hydration and you’re going to probably not move around as much or seem as alert.
But probably one of the more important ones I think is looking at your pets gums and assessing something called Capillary Refill Time or CRT. So if you are to lift up your dog’s muzzle, or cat’s muzzle, you would see the gum tissue below and ideally on an area that’s pink, you would take your finger and you would press down on the tissue for a second or two almost like a sponge to squeeze out that water. Then release your finger and see how long it takes the color to return to normal. Less than two seconds would be normal. More than two seconds or so starts to get concerning. Definitely more than three seconds, very concerning, and indicative to dehydration.
You can also think about something called Skin Turgor too. The thicker your skin is or the more dehydrated you are the more likely if you pull up on the skin, generally say the skin on your pet’s shoulder blades and their scruff. If the skin tends to stick and they have that residual ridge, there is more potential they can be dehydrated. But that can also happen due to a variety of other reasons too, so I feel like that is a little bit more subjective.
I think the best markers for dehydration are lethargy and also increased capillary refill time.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:47
Those are all things that we should all be looking for. But notice, Dr. Patrick Mahaney did not say anything about your dog’s nose. It is a common misconception that that is a way to definitively tell if your dog is hydrated or not. It doesn’t mean it’s not necessarily a sign. Let’s say that your dog’s nose is constantly wet and all of a sudden you see that it is not, that is something to look for. But it doesn’t always point to dehydration. It can be a lot of different things.
My little dog, Onyx, he has a dry nose naturally and it was something that I was concerned about, so I asked my local vet about it. And she actually said it wasn’t indicative of anything specific for him. Noses are part of the skin. Your dog could have a skin condition. It could be sunburned. There are a lot of different reasons your dog’s nose could be dry. It doesn’t mean you should completely ignore it, especially if it’s abnormal. But it doesn’t necessarily directly mean dehydration. Definitely ask your vet if you notice your wet dog’s nose is all of a sudden dry, or your cats for that matter. It’s not a perfect indicator and it’s not necessarily what you should use as an indicator, but it could indicate something. So, know that.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR PETS HYDRATED
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 6:55
And I think that’s true with a lot of things with our pets. They are all individual. They all have differences, so keep an eye on what changes and what stays the same.
So, now that we’ve chatted about the signs of dehydration in our cats and our dogs. We should also talk about how to avoid getting there. How we can keep them hydrated every day. And Chloe, I know you have a pretty interesting method to keep your dogs hydrated.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 7:19
Indeed, I do. And I happened upon it accidently. My dogs like frozen vegetables, like broccoli and beans. And so, one day when I was boiling broccoli for myself, I realized, “Oh, there are like remnants of the broccoli left in the water. Maybe my dogs will enjoy that?” They didn’t just enjoy it. They loved it. And lapped it up like it was the best thing on Earth.
I don’t necessarily do it every day, but it’s a part of our weekly – maybe twice a week – I make broccoli water. I eat the broccoli. I might give them a couple of pieces, and then I give them the broccoli water. They love it. So, I will even use that sometimes to put on their kibble so that it soaks it up as a way to get them to eat it all in one sitting. But broccoli water is my clue, my hint.
And I know there are many other ways. So, we went back to Dr. Patrick Mahaney and said, “What else can we do to ensure our dogs and cats are getting the water that they need?” And here is what he said.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Holistic Housecall Veterinarian – 8:19
Owners can get their pets to drink more water in a variety of ways. I always like to think about Let’s Eat Our Water instead of drink our water all the time. Because sometimes water may not be available, or a clean source may not be available.
So, if your dog or cat is eating a diet that is moist then they are going to be getting more of their hydration needs met just by eating their daily meals. That could be one or multiple meals of day depending on the style of feeding that you do and also your pet’s interest. So, this could be a fresh, moist, home prepared diet or a commercially available diet that is fresh and moist. Maybe a dehydrated food that you add water too. Like a powder or a medallion. Or maybe even foods that are canned. Canned foods by default are going to have more moisture in them than dry foods. A lot of the can foods that are available, the first ingredient is water. So, they are going to be eating their water more instead of drinking their water.
But we could also add water to dry food. We could give them interesting things to drink each day, like low sodium broth, definitely lacking any onions, garlic, chives. Possibly some coconut water. Maybe some waters from the vegetables we cook like the broccoli water. Unflavored Pedialyte is another great option.
Maybe if your pet doesn’t want to drink the water or whatever you are trying to give to them, you could make little cubes that you put in the freezer and they will sit there and lick it for a long time. That is the way that it engages and behaviorally stimulates them.
So, there are so many ways that we can think about and use to get more water into our pets. But definitely I like to think about eating the water more so than just drinking it.
LEAVING THE HOUSE – TIPS
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 9:49
Let’s Eat Our Water. I really like that because I think the idea of finding ways to have moisture in food is a really helpful way to keep pets hydrated. So, that’s a takeaway I got, and I hope you take that away too.
And one thing that he didn’t really talk about and I think it’s worth giving a few tips on is traveling. Like when you leave the house, how do you make sure that you have the water that you need? Jessica, I know that you do that a lot. So, what are your tips?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:13
Absolutely. I think the number one tip is making sure that you have enough water for both you and your pets and whoever else you are traveling with. I know when my husband and I go on road trips, we generally throw a few large jugs of water in the car because they are great. You can consume them, pour them in a dog bowl. If your radiator breaks down, maybe that will be helpful. I think that’s tip number one is make sure that you have enough.
And then my second tip is to freeze some of that water especially if you’re going on a hike or a road trip during the summer when it’s super hot out. Because that water will melt over the course of the day or whole trip, and then you’ll have some nice, clean, refreshing cold water after you’ve been hiking all day or driving all day. If you’re like me, I much prefer cold water to just room temperature or even hot water that’s been sitting in my backpack or my car for a whole day. And a lot of dogs and cats are the same.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:11
Yeah and I think one of the things he also didn’t say, related specifically to cats, is about fountains. Because I know cats really like moving water. So, having a couple of fountains that have moving water can help for cats in your home and keeping them hydrated.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:26
Absolutely. And there are some outdoor fountains too. So, if you have dogs that spend some time outdoors. It’s a great way to keep those leaves and bugs from not just sitting stagnant in a bowl outside.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:39
Good point. We hope that you learned what you needed to know so that you can keep your pet hydrated. You know, how much water they need, tips to do it, and signs to look for so that we can all live hydrated, happy, healthy lives.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:52
Leave a comment below with something that you learned during this video about pet hydration. Or if you have a pet hydration tip that we didn’t discuss, let us know.
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For more information on Dr. Patrick Mahaney:
Website – www.patrickmahaney.com