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how to keep your dog hydrated and cool in summer

How to Hydrate a Dog or Cat: 7 Ways to Keep Your Pets Cool This Summer

The summer months are typically a time when families enjoy a lot of time outdoors. And whether you enjoy more physical activities like walking or hiking, or you prefer to sit around the pool or put on a few backyard barbecues, chances are, your furry family members will be joining you for at least some of your outdoor summer fun.

Most of us know how important it is for people to drink enough water, but it’s just as important for pets. As a matter of fact, your pet’s body is made up of 80% water, compared to the 60% that makes up your body! What this means is that, especially when it gets hot, your pet is at just as great a risk for dehydration or heat exhaustion as you are!

Pet Hydration Month

Here in Florida, it can be hot just about any time of the year, but no matter where you live it’s important to pay close attention to make sure your pets are drinking enough. To raise awareness of the importance of pet hydration and to help pet parents to keep their pets safe, hydrated, and healthy, PetSafe® Brand has declared July National Pet Hydration Awareness Month.

Hydration and Your Pet’s Health

Getting enough water is crucial to your pet’s health. Staying hydrated:

  • Promotes urinary tract health. Pets who stay hydrated have lower risk of urinary tract infections. They also avoid developing urinary stones or crystals that can cause dangerous obstructions.
  • Helps regulate body temperature. Water has a cooling effect on your pet’s body and helps them maintain a consistent, healthy temperature—even when it’s hot.
  • Keeps energy levels up. Water helps animals convert fat to energy. So when you keep your dog hydrated, he’ll have enough energy for play and exercise!
  • Promotes easier healing and recovery. Drinking water keeps your pets’ kidneys healthy and flushes toxins from their bodies. This helps them recover from sickness, injury, or surgery more quickly.

It’s one thing to know how important it is to keep your dog . It’s another to make sure that they are actually drinking enough!

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How Do You Keep Your Pets Hydrated?

Here are seven ways to keep your cat or dog hydrated and cool:

1. Know The Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration is a serious condition that happens when our pets lose more water and electrolytes than they take in. A dehydrated dog or cat can develop issues with their internal organs, body temperature, joints, and digestion. In severe cases, it can cause kidney failure, loss of consciousness, or even be fatal. 

Our pets, especially cats and dogs, lose water daily through panting, breathing, urinating, defecating, and evaporation from their paws. Normally, they make up for this loss by eating and drinking, but if they don’t get enough fluids, they can become dehydrated. More than just being thirsty, being dehydrated affects your cat’s or dog’s body in its entirety, as it reduces blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues and organs​​.

So what causes dehydration in dogs and cats? Overheating (or perspiring through the paws) is a common cause. This is often related to an activity or exercise that exceeds a safe level in hot weather. Pets with illnesses like kidney failure or diabetes are also more prone to dehydration because these conditions cause them to urinate more. Other possible causes include heatstroke or fever. Older pets, pregnant or nursing pets, and our smaller kitties and pups may be more susceptible to dehydration​.

Common signs of dehydration in dogs and cats include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of energy
  • Excessive, ongoing panting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Loss of skin elasticity

If you suspect that your pet is dehydrated, call your vet immediately. He or she can monitor your pet’s condition and administer fluids if necessary. Check out this video from PetSafe Brand for tips on how pet parents can check hydration levels at home.

2. Know How Much Water Your Pet Needs

How much water your pet needs

Your cat’s or dog’s body weight will determine how much water they’ll need to keep themselves hydrated. About one ounce of water for each pound of body weight is needed to keep our cat or dog properly hydrated. So a 10 lb. cat would need to drink 10 ounces of water every day, but a 70 lb. Labrador Retriever would need 70 ounces.

It might be hard to keep track of exactly how much water your furry friend is drinking from their water bowl, especially if you have multiple pets or if Fido occasionally drinks from backyard puddles or the kids’ wading pool. But knowing how much water your pet needs will help you to keep a closer eye on his water intake and determine whether they need to drink water more.

3. Give Your Pet Access To Water At All Times

Pet hydration month infographic

There should never be a time when you deprive your pet of the opportunity to drink water. If possible, place more water bowls or a pet fountain in your home. Having more water bowls means they have constant access to water, even if one water bowl is empty, which improves your cat’s or dog’s water intake. On particularly hot days, you can even add ice cubes to keep your cat or dog hydrated and cool.

If you leave for any period of time, leave enough water so that your pet doesn’t run out before you get back—perhaps get an even bigger dog bowl or cat dish. Even if you’re house-training a puppy, he should always have plenty of clean water available. If you plan on spending time outside with your pet, make sure that you fill a water bowl and bring it out with you or keep water bowls outside (if your dog doesn’t play with the bowls!).

Change your pet’s water frequently, and wash water bowls every day to prevent bacteria from growing.

4. Bring Water With You

If you’re on the go, don’t forget to bring water for your pets. Taking a long car trip? Stop a few times and give them a chance to drink some fresh water. Hitting the trails with your dog? If you’re thirsty, it’s likely he is too. Keep your dog hydrated by offering him some water when you stop to drink. You can even find a special portable water bowl or doggy water bottle that makes it easier to keep him hydrated.

5. Provide a Place to Cool Off

Pets heat up quickly in the sun, especially those with dark coats like my late dog, Chilly. When your dog is outside, even if it’s only for a short time, keep your dog hydrated and cool by making sure he has access to a nice shady spot and water bowl to cool off. And when you’re inside sitting in front of the air conditioning, your pet would probably be happiest and comfiest sitting right next to you!

6. Add Water to Your Pet’s Food

We humans can get a lot of water from the foods that we eat. But pet food, especially the dry kibble, isn’t especially high in water content. If you suspect that your pet isn’t getting enough water from drinking alone, try adding a little water to his dry food or start offering more wet food. Cats especially may benefit from eating a little more wet food than dry kibble, as plenty of cats can be quite finicky about drinking still water from their water bowl.

7. Offer Your Pet Cool Treats

Keeping your pets hydrated doesn’t have to be just plain water and some ice cubes. Make it fun by offering them a variety of cool frozen treats!

For dogs, you give them some fruit popsicles. Mash some fruits that are safe for dogs like watermelons, bananas, or apples, and freeze them in fun popsicle molds. You can also add in a bit of peanut butter (Xylitol-free, of course). Now that’s a fun and cool way to keep your dog hydrated! Remember not to give too much at a time.

We know some kitties may be a little more picky with their treats. If your cat loves fruits as much as your pup does, offer them some of the fun fruit popsicles as well. If they turn their nose up on those cool treats, try making some frozen paté cubes. Mix their favorite paté-style wet food with some of your kitties’ soft treats and a sprinkle of catnip. Scoop them into a silicone mold and freeze them. Offer these tasty cool treats to your kitty on particularly hot days.

8. Try Pet Drinking Fountains

A pet’s instinct tells them that running water is fresh water, but stagnant water (like in your cat’s or dog’s water bowl) is not always safe or healthy. Many pets are naturally drawn to running water and will drink water more from a fountain than they will from a traditional water dish.

Pagoda Drinking Fountain

My cat Olivia LOVES to drink from the bathroom faucet. She meows for me to turn it on, even when she has a bowl full of fresh water! So I knew she would be a big fan of the PetSafe® Drinkwell® Pagoda Drinking Fountain. Now that she has her beautiful fountain, she can get fresh, filtered, running water whenever she wants it—not just when I’m around to turn on the faucet!

Just knowing how much my girl loves to drink from her fountain is enough for me, but there are a few more reasons why I think this fountain is amazing. The running water encourages my pets to drink more, but the fountain also filters and circulates the water (which keeps bacteria from growing), so I know that their water will be fresh and clean around the clock—not just for a few minutes after I refill their bowls.

Dog Drinking From Pagoda Drinking Fountain

I also love how easy the Pagoda Drinking Fountain is to clean—I can even put it in my dishwasher! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s stylish, too!

The Pagoda fountain is paw-some for small to medium pets, and it comes in four colors to coordinate with any room! If you’re looking for a little extra peace of mind, this is a great option to encourage your pets to drink more so that they can stay hydrated and cool year-round!

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and anecdotes are my own, and I never promote any products or brands I don’t believe in. ~Petfully yours, Kristen

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Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

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