It can’t be said often enough that pets need to be kept hydrated during the hot weather. How many times do we hear of dogs being locked in cars suffering because of the heat or sadly perishing?
There is a saying: ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink’, and sometimes it is difficult to ensure your pet remains hydrated, especially in the hot weather.
Often it is difficult to make sure your pet drinks enough, perhaps they are fussy about their water with some folk finding that their cat only seems to like drinking from the shower, or their dog will only drink from the toilet! If this is the case, then it would be wise to keep the bathroom door closed, and perhaps try an alternative water source to make it more interesting. Water fountains work for animals that like running water, or you can add broth to your dog’s water, or unsalted fish oils from the can for a cat to encourage them to drink more. Putting bowls in unexpected areas might also pique their interest and encourage them to drink and placing them in areas that have less animal or human traffic will also make your pet feel more secure about taking time to drink.
Dogs sweat through their paw pads and lose body water through panting. As they’ll do more of this when the weather is hot, you need to make sure they’re taking plenty of water on board. Dogs that go on regular long walks will need plenty of hydration - it’s important to take water with you to keep them suitably hydrated.
If you’re going on a long car journey, it is recommended that you take at least 5l of water with you to ensure you have enough in case of a breakdown. Collapsible water bowls and bowls with water bottles attached are great options for ‘on-the-go’ hydration.
Monitor how often you top up the water bowl and change it if it gets warm. With more than one dog, I find it difficult to track who is drinking the most, as I have one in particular who doesn’t seem to drink much at all, so I add a good amount of water to her food mix to make sure she gets enough. She’s quite partial to well-watered milk, so offer a dish of that now and again.
Cats sweat through their paws too, and their drinking may be hard to monitor. Using unusual water containers, like a plastic cup or mug, can be effective in encouraging cats to drink – they’re attracted to the water tension on top, so make sure you fill it right up. Some enjoy drinking from the bathroom taps, and if it motivates them to drink more, it’s worth encouraging. Running water feels colder than standing water, so experimenting with an automatic water fountain can be a great way to encourage your pet to drink, while also providing stimulation, but they may take a bit of time to get used to it, so you will need to be patient. Outdoor cats that like to explore their natural environment will need more water than a cat that lazes around indoors.
Be mindful of how much water has been used each time you refill. If they’ve exercised, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to drink. For rabbits, it’s a good idea to give both a sipper bottle as well as a heavy water bowl, and rubbing something sweet and rabbit-friendly, like a small piece of banana, on the spout of their water bottle can encourage your rabbit to drink from it. Rabbit owners could also add coriander leaves to their rabbit’s water bowl for the same effect, or a small handful of fresh vegetables or fresh, green grass helps hydrate rabbits due to the high water content.
How to spot dehydration
Dehydration in your pet can result in the following symptoms - vomiting and/or diarrhoea, lethargy or even collapse, excessive ongoing panting, loss of appetite, sunken dry eyes, dry nose, dry sticky gums, loss of skin elasticity, and of course peeing less frequently.
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.