A balanced diet is not the only necessary part of keeping your dog healthy. Water for drinking is also a very important part of your dog’s daily requirements and overall nutrition. Water is the main component of healthy, living cells of the body. Without water, your dog’s body will not be able to function properly. More specifically, your dog will dehydrate. In order for your dog to get enough water daily, you need to provide water along with a healthy, balanced diet (which also provides some moisture).
WHAT DOES WATER DO FOR DOGS?
The purpose of water is to carry and move important nutrients into and out of the cells of the body. It aids in the digestion of food and helps the body to absorb the nutrients. Water also serves to cool the body down and works to maintain a normal body temperature.
Water lubricates and cushions joints and makes movement easier. The spinal cord and other internal tissues are also cushioned by moisture and wastes are removed from the body through urination and bowel movements.
Basically every important body function requires water and without adequate supply, your dog can become ill quickly and become dehydrated. Organs will eventually become damaged with sustained water deficiency. If the deficiency lasts long enough, organs (such as kidneys, liver, etc.) will begin to shut down. Death will follow shortly after.
PROVIDING ADEQUATE WATER TO DOGS
To make sure that your dog always has enough water to keep him/her healthy, you must provide clean, clear water daily that is easily accessible to your pet. Keep your dog’s bowl filled at all times and always refill with fresh, clean water daily.
As a rule of thumb, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. There are many factors that can affect how much your dog will drink, however. Depending on the environmental temperature and the amount of exercise your dog performs during the day, more water may be necessary. This is because water is lost due to excessive panting and salivation.
As we mentioned previously, your dog’s food also contains a small amount of moisture. Dogs that are fed a canned food diet will receive quite a bit more moisture as canned food is about 70-80% water. These dogs may drink less than dogs that eat a dry food diet on a daily basis.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION IN DOGS
In general, a healthy dog will drink enough water daily to stay well hydrated, but there are a few instances where dehydration can occur. Dogs suffering from illnesses like kidney disease, metabolic disorders (such as diabetes), cancer and pregnant/nursing animals are at risk of becoming dehydrated more readily.
To check your dog for dehydration, pick up a fold of loose skin over the top of the shoulder blades, pull it up gently and release it. Watch for the skin to fall back into place. Under normal circumstances, the skin should quickly return to place without any hesitation. If dehydration is present, the skin will slowly return or may even stay up for a time before falling back into place.
Another place to look for dehydration is in an dog’s mouth. If the gums appear dry, sticky or pale, this is a sign of illness and dehydration. Dehydrated pets will also have dry, sunken eye balls and a dry nose and mouth.
If you are concerned that your dog is not getting enough water to maintain health, talk to your veterinarian for advice. Maintaining proper hydration is too important to your dog’s health to ignore.