How to Prepare for National Pet Hydration Awareness Month
July is National Pet Hydration Awareness Month. This summer month is a good time to remember that, while humans count out their eight glasses of water daily, pets need water too. Pet's bodies are 80% water, and they need hydration to move and be well.
PetSafe®, which provides wireless fences and other pet products, created National Pet Hydration Month in July 2018 to promote awareness for keeping pets hydrated and knowing the signs of dehydration in animals.
As a veterinarian, you can get involved in this pet wellness event by reminding your customers about it (Positive Impressions offers postcards, reminder cards and other products to help you) and educating them about pet hydration. You can even contact a local pet organization like the Humane Society and sponsor any events they're hosting for the month. And don't forget to promote any involvement on social media.
Here is some information you can provide to your clients about pet hydration.
Signs of Animal Dehydration
The following five signs are common in most animals:
- Loss of appetite, as dehydration dulls the digestive system.
- Excessive panting.
- Loss of skin elasticity. You may notice a dog or cat's fur is less shiny.
- Sunken eyes.
- Dry nose and gums. You may notice your dog or cat isn't salivating as much.
- Your pet may be sleepier than usual or even unresponsive in extreme cases.
How Much Water Animals Need
Dogs should ideally drink about an ounce of water for every pound they weigh. For a 16-pound dog, the ideal amount would be 16 ounces.
Tips on Keeping Pets Hydrated
Make sure you're offering fresh water daily and filling up your dog or cat's bowl. Make sure your pet has access to water wherever they spend most of their time, and be sure to always bring water on long walks/car rides. If you suspect your dog or cat isn't getting enough water, add some water to food to increase water intake or put broth or ice cubes in a bowl to entice your pet to drink more.
Checking for Dehydration
It goes without saying that if you believe your pet is dehydrated, you should provide water and get to a veterinarian if symptoms don't improve. You can check for dehydration by gently grasping a loose fold of skin on the neck or between the shoulder blades. If the skin snaps back in place quickly, your pet is likely fine. If it returns to place slowly, your pet could be dehydrated.
Just like humans, pets can get too much water, which is called water intoxication. This can happen when a dog spends a lot of time near a lake or other body of water and takes in too much of it. Signs of water intoxication include loss of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, dilated pupils, pale gums and excessive salivation.
You can help prevent water intoxication by monitoring your dog when close to water, providing enough water during supervised time to reduce the desire to drink unsupervised, using flat toys that don't absorb water, and having your pet's kidneys checked once a year to make sure liquids are being processed properly.
If you suspect water intoxication, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Celebrating monthly pet wellness events is a great way to build better relationships with clients. You can remind your clients on calendars you provide, reminder cards and more. You can also send clients home with sheets that provide information on hydration and why it's so important. All of this helps establish your expertise and remind people to contact you with questions about their pets and to receive care.