Water – Elixir of Life & Rescuer from Dehydration
Water helps the body digest food, eliminate stool, and keeps crystals from forming in urine. It also keeps tissues and joints from drying out. Giving them fresh water at all times is imperative.
Dehydration is an imbalance of water and electrolytes in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets. Water is essential for all animals to maintain appropriate health and replaces fluids that are usually lost through urine, feces and respiration.
What causes dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when water levels drop to less than normal. This can be due to either reduced water intake or increased water loss. Overheating in hot and humid weather, increased activity or a bout of vomiting or diarrhea can all result in water loss in cats. Many pet parents don’t see their pets’ drinking water and assume they are not sensitive to water loss, but they are – even though they may not drink water until they’ve lost as much as eight percent of their body’s water stores. That’s why it’s important to give your pet access to fresh water at all times to maintain proper hydration. How can you know your pet is dehydrated?
Keep an eye for these signs and symptoms –
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Elevated heart rate
- Decreased skin elasticity
If you notice any of these signs, consult your vet immediately.
How much water does your cat need?
As your cat consumes more calories and produces more metabolic waste, he needs more water to maintain his body temperature. In general, an adult cat should drink roughly the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the number of kilocalories eaten per day. Dry cat food contains 7 percent to 12 percent water, while canned food can measure up to 80 percent water.
Is your little one dehydrated? Follow these helpful tips
Dehydration may indicate a serious underlying problem. If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, take him to the vet immediately. You may be able to detect dehydration at home by gently lifting the skin on the back of your cat’s neck or between the shoulder blades – unless your cat is seriously overweight or very thin, his skin should immediately return to normal position. If your pet is dehydrated, the lifted skin may not quickly return to normal. Often the signs of dehydration are not as obvious, and only a veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
Magic trick to make your cat drink more water
Pour a teaspoon of tuna juice or low-sodium broth into your cat’s water dish. This adds a little extra scent and flavour to entice a reluctant water drinker. Once your cat is drinking regularly, reduce the amount of juice in each bowl until he is drinking plain water.
How is dehydration treated?
Your vet might administer intravenous fluids, and run additional tests, if necessary, to determine the underlying cause of the condition.
Prevention is always better than cure
- Provide clean water for your cat at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacterial growth.
- Observe your cat to determine his preference for obtaining water. Some cats prefer certain bowls, while others like either tap or bottled water. Some cats prefer water fountains that can be found at many pet stores. Try placing multiple bowls of water around the house for easier access.
- If your pet is recovering from a bout of diarrhea or vomiting, give him an ice cube to lick initially and provide small amounts of water at regular intervals to avoid over-hydrating too quickly.
Road tripping with your cat? Take note of these tips to avoid dehydration
In general, travel is stressful for cats. Be aware that although motion sickness can make some cats nauseated or to vomit, they should have regular access to water.
- Monitor your cat’s water intake. If you notice he is drinking more or less than usual, talk to your vet immediately.
Follow these tips and prevent your feline fellows from being dehydrated in this hot and humid weather. Get a new sipper for yourself and maybe a new bowl for your pet to encourage more water intake.
(Dr Yanglem Pushpa is CEO & Consultant at Dr Yanglemcha Pets Clinic, Moirangkhom Bazar, Imphal (West), Manipur)