There’s a good reason why PetSafe® chose July to be National Pet Hydration Awareness Month—by mid-summer, it’s very hot from coast to coast!
Last year, the average daytime temperature tied for the second hottest July on record. But it doesn’t need to be super-hot for pets to experience heat stress and dehydration.
As summers get hotter and longer, pet owners need to be extra careful when it comes to ensuring their pets are kept cool and well hydrated.
Cats and dogs
Neither dogs nor cats are well equipped for hot temperatures. They lack sweat glands and rely on panting to stay cool. As a result, they’re very quick to overheat—and require a lot of water to stay healthy.
Safe hydration standards: 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight Signs of dehydration: Lethargy, sunken eyes, loss of appetite, dry mouth or depression
Our avian friends handle heat better than cats and dogs, but still require special care during hot weather. Birds should be kept well hydrated as temperatures climb.
Safe hydration standards: Adult birds need to drink about 5% of their body weight daily Signs of dehydration: Sunken/dull eyes, wrinkled skin around eyes or lethargy
Reptiles absorb and lose water through their skin, which makes them susceptible to dehydration. Be sure to offer them clean, fresh water regularly to encourage proper hydration.
Safe hydration standards: Varies from species to species; watch reptiles closely during hot and dry weather Signs of dehydration: Sunken eyes, dull or dry skin that looks wrinkled, patchy unshed skin or lethargy
Many small mammals bury themselves to stay cool. On hot days, pet parents should make sure to keep their water bottles and bowls freshly topped off.
Safe hydration standards: Monitor water intake on bottles to ensure your pet is drinking enough Signs of dehydration: Loss of appetite, lethargy or sunken eyes
What is the skin tent hydration test?
Skin elasticity is a key indicator of proper hydration. When your pet is well hydrated, their skin will spring back to the body after gentle tugging. Skin tent tests can be done on all pets—even reptiles!
How to do it:
Gently grab a loose fold of skin on the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades and release. When testing on bird, use an area where there are no feathers.
If skin snaps back quickly, pet is probably ok
If the skin stays tented or takes longer than 1-2 seconds to go back down, pet may need water
Tips to prevent dehydration:
Keep fresh water available to pets at all times
Refill water bowls and bottles daily
Ensure available water is clean
Encourage water intake before and after activities
Bring water for your pet on outings
Most importantly, remember your pets depend on you for water! Always be prepared.
When should I go to the vet?
Dehydration can be very dangerous for pets—if you’re seeing signs of dehydration, consult with a veterinarian immediately. In more serious cases, your pet may require an IV to hydrate them back to normal.
If you’re feeling unsure about potential signs, remember that Nationwide pet insurance members have 24/7 access to vethelpline® to answer your pet health questions and concerns.
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