A drink of water is a treat?
To your dog or cat, yes, indeed! Humans think of water as something we have to drink sometimes, but soft drinks, milk and tea are considered special to us.
Just as dogs and cats don’t require variety in their diets, they don’t need various liquids to drink, either. What they do need is for their water to be clean and fresh.
If you doubt that, wash out your pet’s water bowl and refill it with new water. Almost every pet will go straight to it, sniff, and sample. They didn’t suddenly become thirsty just because their attention was drawn to the water container. No, they checked it out, found it delightful, and dove in for a good, long sample.
Encouraging your pet to drink has important health benefits. Dogs and cats should consume between 25 and 40 milliliters of water per pound of body of weight each day. Small-breed dogs and cats closer to the upper limit and the larger the breed of dog the closer they should be to the 25 ml. mark. Just as there are health benefits for people who drink 2-3 liters of water each day, so it is for your pet. Water is the largest single component of our bodies, so every part of the body depends on it. Being properly hydrated improves blood circulation, kidney and liver function, bowel movements, brain operation, everything!
Ideally, we would change our pets’ water daily and wash the bowl weekly with a mild dishwashing liquid and rinse thoroughly. Few of us have that much free time, so let’s aim for at least a weekly washing and water renewal.
OTHER STEPS THAT WILL ENCOURAGE WATER CONSUMPTION
I frequently hear pet owners say, “Every time I turn on a faucet my cat jumps onto the counter for a drink,” or, “my dog jumps into the bathtub for a drink.” These are usually situations in which we have created a dangerous Pavlovian response. We let the pet drink from the running water once or twice, and, because they crave the fresh, cool water, they are less likely to return to their bowl for a drink, potentially resulting in dehydration. Literally, pets will “hold out” for a drink from the faucet or hose, to their detriment.
I’VE CREATED A MONSTER, NOW WHAT?
Simply discontinuing the practice may break the faucet/hose habit. Being faithful to weekly (or more frequent) water changing will often help.
However, what if you had a faucet or hose that ran 24/7/365? Sure, that would be incredibly wasteful, to say nothing of expensive. A pet drinking fountain, on the other hand, runs day and night, consuming minimal electricity, and wasting no water. In various sizes appropriate for kittens to Great Danes, every pet can have the encouragement he needs to drink adequate amounts while enjoying the freshness and aeration of flowing water.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.