Dehydration in Cats and Dogs
Dehydration is a serious problem that regularly affects both cats and dogs. Dehydration occurs when our pets don’t get enough water. Given that our pets’ bodies are made of 60% water, this means that pets need regular and frequent amounts of clean water in order to stay healthy. Our pets lose their water not only because they sweat, but also because water is used by most of the systems in our body. Even the cells that make up our bodies constantly need water to function properly.
Due to the fact that dehydration is a serious problem if you think your pet is dehydrated, it should be brought to the vet ASAP. That said, there are some tests that can help you the pet owner to determine if your pet is dehydrated. Two of these tests include the saliva test and the skin elasticity test. The saliva test simply involves putting your clean finger onto your pet’s gums and feeling for saliva. In a healthy hydrated animal, the gums should feel moist and wet. If your pet’s gums feel sticky or tacky then this is a sign of dehydration. If your pet’s gums are very dry with almost no moisture, then this is likely a sign of severe dehydration which is of course a serious emergency. The skin elasticity test involves gently pulling the skin on a part of your pet’s body (usually on the back on the neck) and watching to see how quickly it snaps back into place. In a properly hydrated cat or dog the skin should snap back within 2 seconds. The length of time it takes for a pet’s skin to snap back into place is a good indicator of their possible level of dehydration.
A common problem for pet owners regarding dehydration involves knowing how much water a pet should drink each day. Many pet owners will not realize that there is an issue with dehydration because their pet drinks an enormous amount of water per day. If your pet is drinking too much water, this is a sign of a problem. They may well be in a state of constant dehydration and this is why they are drinking so much water. Getting to the root of why they are drinking so much is crucial. It goes without saying that if all of a sudden you notice that your pet is drinking much more (or less) than usual, then this is likely a sign of a health problem.
In terms of where your pets should get the water they need, it should come from a clean fresh source. Pools, puddles and toilets are all bad sources of water and are filled with bacteria and other possible toxins. Pets need access to fresh water every day. If you are ever concerned that your pet may be showing signs of dehydration, then a veterinary visit is in order.