Did you know that dogs and cats are made of up of around 70% water? It’s true! And, in fact, water is the most essential nutrient your pet consumes each and every day. Your pet needs water for the functions of pretty much every cell, organ, and tissue in its body. Water is essential for regulating body temperature, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells through the circulatory system, and removing wastes and toxins from the body.
How much water does my pet need?
Your pet’s water requirements will vary depending on its health and lifestyle. Dogs on average need to consume about an ounce of fluid per pound of body weight each day. For example, a 50-pound dog should take in about 50 ounces of water daily. This amount can be met by both drinking water and through the moisture content in their food. Cats, on the other hand, only need about 5-10 ounces of water per day on average. You’ll notice that they’ll drink significantly less water if they are eating wet or canned food, as it contains much more moisture than dry kibble.
Just like humans, your pet needs more water when they’re in hot weather or exercising, or if they’re in cold weather and shivering. Young and elderly pets tend to drink more than adults, as do pregnant or lactating females. It’s important that pets get plenty of water if they experience sudden water losses from illnesses such as diarrhea. Ongoing medical issues like kidney disease or urinary stones require more water to help dilute the urine. Because there is so much variation in the amount of water an individual pet requires, it’s best to check with your veterinarian to see exactly how much water your pet should be consuming each day.
Where does my pet get water?
Your pet’s food provides some water, with canned food containing about 60-87% water and kibble containing 3-11% water. In addition to food, your pets should always have a fresh bowl of water available. Their water bowl should be washed with soap, rinsed well, and refilled with fresh water daily. You may even consider running it through the dishwasher on occasion to get it squeaky clean and sanitized. If you’re keeping a water bowl outside for your pet, check on it multiple times throughout the day. Water levels can drop from your pet drinking more during extreme temperatures, and the water can also evaporate or freeze.
How can I get my pet consume more water?
Some dogs and cats just don’t seem to drink much water. Here are some tips to encourage water intake in your pet! First, try to have multiple bowls of water available. Seeing the water more frequently might remind your pet to take a sip more often. Crunching on ice cubes can be an extra source of moisture (plus a fun calorie-free snack)! Some pets (especially cats) love to drink running water, so you can leave a small stream going in your faucet at times throughout the day or try a pet water fountain.
As mentioned above, pets also consume additional water through their food, especially canned food. If you decide to introduce canned food, be sure to start slowly because canned foods tend to be higher in fat than kibble. This can lead to stomach upset if introduced too quickly.
What should I do if I think my pet is drinking too much?
There are many things that can cause a pet to drink more water than normal, and it’s not a good idea to restrict their intake. Your pet is likely drinking to fulfill a physiological need. You might notice an increase in the amount they’re drinking during the warm summer months or times of increased activity. Some medications, such as steroids, will cause a pet to drink and urinate more frequently. There are also medical issues, including bladder infections, kidney or liver disease, hormonal disorders, electrolyte imbalances, and diabetes, that can cause an increase in thirst. Though this list may seem overwhelming, don’t be afraid to check in with your vet. Many of these are very treatable, especially if caught early.
A detailed history of your pet’s habits is an important clue to figuring out what might be going on, so it’s especially helpful if you can keep a pet journal. Try to include a measure of the amount he or she is eats and drinks, frequency of pooping and urinating, color of the urine, heat cycles, activity levels, any medications or supplements being given, and changes in breathing rate or panting.
Still have questions?
Our pet nutrition team is here for you. Send us an email, give us a call, or connect with us through LiveChat. We’d love to talk through your pet’s unique nutritional needs!