This is branded content for PetSafe Australia.
Imagine being thirsty, really thirsty, but in a situation where you can't access a cool glass of water to quench that thirst. Now imagine it's not you but your beloved dog or cat.
Most pet owners would be horrified at the thought of their furry family members being without water when they need it, particularly at this time of year when summer temperatures mean inadequate water intake can more quickly lead to potentially life-threatening dehydration.
However, a recent survey of more than 1000 pet owners conducted by leading pet brand PetSafe Australia found that while 90 per cent of people say they prioritise their pet's needs during summer activities, including ensuring hydration, 59 per cent said they were uncertain about how much water their pet needed.
"It can be difficult to know just how much your pets should drink - for dogs it depends on body weight so its best to talk to your vet about that," said veterinarian and presenter Dr Katrina Warren, who's partnered with PetSafe to help prevent pet dehydration this summer.
"It's so important to make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water available to them at all times, especially for dogs when they're outdoors on a hot day and losing a lot of water through panting and just breathing," she said.
"In summer when dogs have been out in the heat, dehydration can combine with heat stroke which is a very serious condition - lots of dogs die from heat stroke each year."
Making sure cats drink enough can be particularly tricky. While dogs will usually guzzle water provided, cats have a lower thirst drive which means they may not drink as much as they need even if water is available.
"They can also be notoriously finicky about how they drink their water - if they're not happy with their water source they may just not drink," Dr Warren said.
"They don't like their water bowl too near their litter tray for instance, they like privacy when they're drinking, and they prefer running water which means water fountains for cats are a good idea to encourage them to drink.
"Cats are prone to urinary tract issues and being dehydrated can contribute to that so it's so important to make sure they're getting enough water."
Dr Warren has provided these top ten essential tips to prevent dehydration for our pets this summer.
1 Always have water for your dog
Whenever you venture outdoors with your canine companion carry a portable water bowl to ensure your dog has easy access to hydration during walks, hikes, or trips. Avoid letting your dog drink seawater or water from dirty lakes to prevent potential health issues.
2 Shade outdoor water bowls
When you place water bowls outside for your pets, make sure they are positioned in the shade throughout the day. The sun's movement can quickly heat up the water, making it undrinkable.
3 Exercise with caution
While it's important not to skip exercise altogether during hot weather, it's equally vital to exercise caution. Avoid walking your dog during peak temperatures, and offer plenty of water breaks to prevent overheating and dehydration.
4 Provide cooling treats
Consider enhancing your pet's hydration with cooling treats such as PetSafe's Chilly Penguin stuffed with food and then frozen. These special products keep your dog refreshed but also provide mental and physical enrichment, making them a win-win.
5 Cool for cats
Keep in mind that cats have a lower thirst drive compared to dogs and may not drink as much water. However, proper hydration is still crucial for their overall health and to prevent issues like urinary tract problems. Provide fresh, clean water in a quiet location to encourage them to drink more.
6 Wet food for cats
To increase your cat's moisture intake, consider incorporating some wet food into their diet. The higher moisture content in wet food can contribute significantly to hydration.
7 Running water
Many cats are drawn to running water, which is why they may enjoy drinking from the kitchen tap. To encourage your cat to drink, you can invest in a cat water fountain which provides a continuous source of fresh, flowing water. For dogs achieve a similar effect by using a pet water fountain like the PetSafe® Butterfly Pet Fountain, which offers multiple free-falling water streams that entices them to drink more.
8 Know dehydration symptoms
Familiarise yourself with common signs of dehydration in pets, including lethargy, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, dry mouth, and rigid skin. Keep an eye out for changes in your pet's urine colour and gum appearance, as these can also be indicators of dehydration.
9 Check your pet's hydration levels
An easy way to assess your pet's hydration level is to gently pinch the skin on the back of their neck. If the skin takes time to revert to its usual shape, it may suggest that your dog is dehydrated.
10 Monitor their water consumption
In households with multiple pets, it can be challenging to gauge an individual pet's water consumption accurately. However, it's crucial to observe and track any changes in their drinking patterns. A decrease or increase in water intake may signal an underlying medical condition.By staying vigilant, you can ensure your pets stay adequately hydrated and healthy.
PetSafe®'s Pet Hydration Month runs through January and February 2024. Stay updated by following PetSafe® ANZ on Instagram (@petsafeanz) and Facebook (@PetSafeANZ).