Our pets’ bodies are made up of a majority of water, just like ours. Water is essential to keep all the body systems in good working condition. Dogs and cats need access to fresh water all the time, and that needs to increase in these hot summer months. The average dog drinks 60-80ml/kg of water per day. The average cat may drink between 20-70ml/kg/day. If they are eating canned food, their additional water intake will likely be less. That means a dog weighing 40 lbs. might drink around 5 cups of water a day. A cat weighing 10 lbs. may drink 0.5-1.5 cups a day, depending on the individual. If they spend time outside in the heat, they will likely need more water than the above guidelines.

Adequate hydration is necessary for our pets to maintain good health. There are many potential causes of dehydration. Some examples include lack of access to water, kidney disease, endocrine disease like diabetes mellitus, or getting overheated. In these summer months, care must be taken to prevent our pets from getting overheated. Dogs and cats keep themselves cool mainly through evaporation and conduction. They will pant to allow evaporation through their respiratory system and lie down on the coolest surface they can find to conduct excess heat off their bodies. If they do not have access to water, it would be much easier to get dehydrated in the warm times of the year compared to the winter.

Signs of dehydration include lethargy, weakness, decreased urine production, and more severely sunken eyes or even seizures. If you are concerned your pet may be dehydrated, it is best to have them evaluated by their primary care veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian if it is after hours or on the weekend. They will be able to determine IF they are dehydrated and start investigating the cause. And if their primary care veterinarian feels they should receive the next level of diagnostic evaluation and care, they can refer you and your beloved family member to our hospital, where one of our internal medicine specialists can evaluate them and tailor a plan to diagnose and treat their condition.