Pet Hydration Awareness Month at The Animal Store

General Guidelines for Pet Hydration

Scorching temperatures this summer remind us that July is Pet Hydration Awareness Month. An animal’s body is up to 80% water (whereas humans are about 55-60% water). It’s extremely important to keep your pet well hydrated during hot weather. If you’re thirsty, then your pet probably is as well. Each time you get a drink for yourself on a hot day, check to see that your pet has water, too.

  • Fill and refresh water bowls and bottles frequently
  • Put out extra water while you are away from your pet on hot days
  • Never leave an animal unattended in a parked car
  • Avoid prolonged heat exposure; if necessary, take more frequent, shorter walks
  • Offer water before and after exercise
  • Bring water for your pet during outings

When in doubt about pet hydration, as your veterinarian

Pet Hydration for Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats don’t tolerate extreme heat well. They don’t have sweat glands and rely on panting to cool down. They can overheat easily and require plenty of water to stay cool and comfortable. A good rule of thumb for dogs and cats is one ounce of water per pound of body weight.

The signs of dehydration include:

  • lethargy or weakness
  • sunken eyes
  • loss of appetite
  • dry mouth
  • depression
  • excessive panting
  • difficulty breathing
  • increased heart and respiratory rate
  • drooling

Extreme dehydration can quickly lead to more severe symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • collapse
  • seizures
  • bloody diarrhea

Pet Hydration for Small Mammals

All pets require extra attention during hot weather. For your small mammal pets—rats and ferrets, bunnies and chinchillas, hamsters and gerbils—the advice is the same. Provide clean, fresh water at least daily and monitor your pet’s water intake. Signs of dehydration in smaller animals can include:

  • lethargy
  • sunken eyes
  • loss of appetite

Pet Hydration for Birds and Reptiles

Birds and reptiles are generally more tolerant of higher temperatures than their furry friends. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore high temperatures. Keep your pet’s cage or tank out of direct sunlight. Provide fresh water frequently and remember that small dishes of water can evaporate quickly in hot weather. Provide opportunities for birds and reptiles to bathe, or use a misting bottle near them and allow them to walk into the spray. Use clean, lukewarm water and remove the dirty water container when your pet is done bathing to prevent drowning or infection.

Healthy adult birds should drink about 5% of their body weight every day. Signs of dehydration in birds can include:

  • lethargy or weakness
  • wings held away from the body
  • sunken or dull eyes
  • general signs of distress
  • unusual vocalizations
  • dry droppings or lack of droppings

Reptiles also need fresh water daily. The amount of water your reptile needs depends on the species. Be sure to do your research about how your pet reptile hydrates. You will want to keep their habitat at an optimum level of humidity, and be sure to use the right kind of water supply. Some reptiles will lap from shallow dishes, while others prefer a drip system.

Signs of dehydration in snakes, turtles, tortoises, and other reptiles can include:

  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • sunken eyes
  • dry or dull skin that looks unusually wrinkled or flaky
  • patches of unshed skin

Dehydration can be extremely dangerous for your pet. If you notice any signs of dehydration, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Even Fish Need Extra Attention in Hot Weather

Aquarium hobbyists should know that fish are not immune to the effects of a hot summer. Here are some great tips from Aqueon on caring for your aquarium during hot weather.

The Animals Store has everything you need to keep your pets safe and healthy during these dog days of summer and beyond. Visit us soon. Our expert staff is happy to answer your questions.