Are you doing enough to keep your pet hydrated?

We all happily embrace the summer months and any sunny days that come with it, but unfortunately not all pet owners are in the know when it comes to keeping their cats and dogs hydrated in the heat. A recent survey* that we carried out to help to raise awareness about the importance of pet hydration for good health, found that nearly half (45%) of UK pet owners are unclear about how much water to give their pets to drink.

A particular source of worry that our survey showed is the high number of owners (70%) who wouldn’t know how to tell if their pet was dehydrated. In fact, over half of dog owners believe that panting is a sign of dehydration – a common misconception as this is actually a sign for a dog being too hot or anxious.

We all know dogs like to eat and drink most things they come across, but it’s important to prevent this to avoid any health risks. Our survey highlighted some of the common liquid hazards, with puddle water topping the list of things dogs like to drink other than water. 42% of dog owners admitted their dogs regularly sip stagnant water, which most owners don’t realise can be potentially dangerous and cause a stomach upset for their furry friend.

In true British style, tea was also popular, with 25% of dogs enjoying a cuppa (or some of their owner’s!), while only 15% of cats are guilty of this. However, a main concern for feline owners is cow’s milk, which a quarter of cats are regularly given to drink by their owners, most often due to the commonly believed myth that it’s good for them. The dairy content can in fact be quite indigestible for cats, causing problems such as severe cramps and diarrhoea and even leading to obesity.

Our veterinary consultant David Chamberlain acknowledged these worrying results and the importance of educating pet owners with the facts: “The results clearly show that pet owners need to become more savvy when it comes to hydrating their pets and the types of liquids they allow them to drink.”

“Even losing just 10% of the body’s water can have serious consequences for a dog or cat, and hotter weather, exercise and periods of illness can all contribute to water loss. It’s vital to ensure that pets have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and make sure that they are drinking enough to keep them happy and healthy.”

There are various simple measures that can make a big difference in encouraging good hydration, such as always taking water on long car journeys and making sure your pets have access to water during and after any walks or activities. For those times when you’re out with your dog, be sure to keep an eye on them if they have a tendency to drink from unknown sources or puddle water. You’ll find that if your pet is getting enough fresh water then they won’t need to go looking for any other alternative sources!

Here are some good facts for any cat or dog owners to be aware of to help ensure a healthy summer for your furry friend:

  • 80% of a pet’s body is made of water, while humans are only made up of 60% water.
  • As a general rule, dogs require 80ml of water per kilogram per day and cats require 60ml, however, the amount should be doubled in warmer climates.
  • Symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, sunken eyes, and loss of appetite and depression. Another common symptom is when pets’ gums lose moistness and become dry and sticky.

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Average recommended water intake for a cat and dog per day:

Weight Breed/Species Water (ml) 200ml Glasses (Approx.)
4.5kg Cat/Yorkie 315 1 ½
8kg Westie 560 3
24kg Springer 1680 8
35kg Labrador 2450 12

 

* Survey carried out by Cencuswide in May 2015 of 500 UK cat and dog owners.

 

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Tips for looking after your pet in the heat

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With the current heatwave and many of us experiencing higher than usual temperatures, it’s important to think about how this affects our pets too to make sure they stay comfortable and healthy in the heat. Did you know that, just like us, dogs can catch the sun too? So avoid your furry friend being exposed to strong sun for long periods to help prevent sunburn or irritation. Some dogs are more susceptible than others, such as those with white and lighter coloured fur, so it’s worth thinking about investing in sun lotions specially formulated for pets, which you can get from most good pet stores. Despite its appearance, dogs’ fur does in fact help to keep them cool due to its insulating properties, but owners unaware of this often get their coat trimmed for summer, so avoid this and leave them au natural!

Sunny days give lots of us an excuse to take extra trips to make the most of the nice weather, and we all know it’s not a proper family outing without bringing your four-legged members along too! This can mean long car journeys with your dog, which can be an ordeal in normal conditions and only made worse by the heat. Make sure you have plenty of water for your dog during the journey and stop regularly for them to re-hydrate, have a quick run around and get some fresh air. We hear countless warnings about leaving your dog in a parked car, and this is especially true in high temperatures as, even with the window cracked, cars rapidly overheat which can cause sunstroke and dehydration.

We all like to enjoy more time in the garden and outdoors when the weather is fine, and this is the same for your pet too. Make sure that there are some cool spots in the shade around the garden for them to seek out on sunny days; that way they can enjoy being outside without you worrying about them catching the sun or overheating. If the days seem to be staying warmer longer, then think about choosing cooler times to take your dog out for a walk, such as mornings or early evenings, especially if you’re doing any activities or playtime with them. Dogs can lack energy in the heat so if they do seem to be getting tired at all or overheating, then take a break and give them some water. During the hotter months, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of taking a bottle of water along with you on any outings together, maintaining your dog’s hydration allows it to pant efficiently and therefore keep cool. Dehydration is one of the main concerns for dog owners in hot weather, so be sure to take steps to make it easily preventable. Providing them with a plentiful supply of water that they can access at all times will help keep your dog healthy and hydrated, meaning you can both relax and enjoy the nice weather safely!

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Which human foods are not safe for cats?

Lots of us are guilty of giving our feline friends a treat from time to time, and this can often be in the form of human food. Just as we should, it’s best to adopt the moderation mindset, as most things can be harmful in excess; there are, however, some foods that are particularly unsafe for cats in small quantities which you should avoid giving them altogether. We’ve listed some of the more common ones to watch out for below, but as a rule if in doubt always err on the side of caution!

Milk – Despite the familiar image of a cat lapping up milk out of a saucer being one we’ve all seen countless times, most cats are in fact lactose intolerant. This means that their digestive system cannot process dairy foods properly, which can lead to a stomach upset and diarrhoea.

Onions and garlic – These everyday foods contain oxidising agents that are damaging to cats’ cells, and even just a small amount can cause onion poisoning. This breaks down their red blood cells, which can have a range of dangerous health symptoms, and so they should both be avoided at all costs. 

Grapes and raisins – It’s well known that these seemingly harmless little fruit are notoriously dangerous for dogs, and the same can be the case for cats too. This is due to them being a cause of kidney failure, and cats can suffer the same symptoms. As they’re often stored out in the open in a fruit bowl, owners are best to keep any grapes or raisins in a place not accessible to your cat.

Chocolate – A tasty but potentially toxic treat when it comes to your cat, as a result of it containing stimulants such as theobromine. This harmful ingredient is found in all types of chocolate, but higher levels in dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate make these the most dangerous. Christmas and Easter are times when there are plentiful amounts of the sweet stuff around, so always be mindful not to leave it out for wandering paws to find.

Caffeine  The effects of caffeine are the same for cats as for humans, except their bodies are more sensitive which means they need much less and are unable to cope with the reactions caused. If ingested, symptoms can include rapid breathing and heart rate, restlessness, fits and seizures, and muscle spasms. In large enough quantities, caffeine poisoning can be fatal for cats so this goes for any drinks or food that contain the substance – tea, coffee, soft drinks, cocoa, and chocolate. 

If you really can’t resist indulging your cat on occasion, aside from cat treats and kibble, then remember their carnivorous origins. This means that in general, most red meats and poultry should be fine, but as we’ve mentioned always keep these to just small amounts. 

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