Water - the most vital nutrient

Being negligent about your pet’s requirement for water is a common problem encountered by vets all over the world. Inadequate supply of water can damage your pet’s organs, like kidneys, liver, and even lead to death.
How much is enough?
According to veterinary physician Dr CS Arun, a 20 kg normal dog needs 1.2 litres of water per day. In another thumb rule, a dog should drink 2.5 times the quantity of food it consumes. For eg., if the dog eats 300 gm dry food, he should drink at least 750 ml water. But the water requirement considerably increases in places with a hot climate, especially after exercise and during lactation. It may go up to 2-3 times more than normal. It has to be remembered that dogs on dry food need more water.

Pawfect water balance
Dr Indranil Samanta, expert in veterinary microbiology, says water is the most important regulator of all cellular functions. “Water is continuously supplied and lost from the body. So, the machinery to maintain the balance should be efficiently functional,” he adds.

Why deficiency occurs
The primary cause of water deficiency is managemental error.

  • Pet parents may tend to forget filling up water bowls.
  • Keeping dogs chained in certain cases may lead to deficiency. Chained pets may not be able to reach water troughs. Be careful about this.
  • Occasionally, a pet may knock over the water bowl.
  • Excessive panting and salivation causes water deprivation.
  • Fever, severe vomiting, diarrhoea, also lead to severe dehydration.

Even a loss of 10 per cent of body water may cause serious disorders. A dehydrated pet will look dull and depressed with dry, pale and sticky gums and sunken eyes. You’ll notice that your pet’s skin is losing its turgidity. When a flap of skin is pulled away from the body, it won’t snap back quickly.


A serious issue
“Dogs drinking sufficient water are able to burn the glucose more efficiently. So, if your dog is reluctant to walk, play with you or the children, s/he is most likely dehydrated. Other signs include panting, dry oral mucus membrane, tachycardia, decreased pulse rate and hypovolemic shock in fatal cases. However, the proper detection of this syndrome can be done by a qualified vet,” says Dr Samanta.
“Further, when your dog is sick, he is reluctant to drink water. However, during sickness, especially fever, more water is needed.


Combating dehydration
Dr Arun points out some guidelines to combat dehydration.

  • Vaccinate your dog regularly.
  • Do not give him access to the garbage bin or stale food.
  • To treat dehydration, start infusing fluids i/v, s/c or oral as early as possible.
  • If there is no vomiting, the pet may be forcibly fed water frequently.
  • To increase the palatability of water, you may add some chicken or beef flavour.
  • Let your pooch drink water before exercise.
  • Water bowls can be placed at 2-3 places.
  • Ice cubes can be given as treats in summer.
  • A treat can be put at the bottom of the water bowl to encourage your pooch to drink.
  • In summer, provide cool water and in winter, provide water at room temperature.
  • To prevent water deficiency, always make sure that the pet has access to clean water at all times.
  • Change the water in bowls at least twice a day.
  • When travelling, carry enough water for the pet.

With inputs from Dr CS Arun, Dr Indranil Samanta (Vets)

www.dogsandpupsmagazine.com; www.facebook.com/Dogsandpupsmag

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