If there’s one thing I’m terrible at, it’s getting enough water. I’m just not a fan. It’s too watery for me. Luckily, I’m better at keeping my pets hydrated. And I’ve got some practical ways to keep your dog hydrated. But first some back story.
Many years ago, my brother’s dog Ranger got super dehydrated. My bro is, well was, a farmer before get got Parkinson’s disease. His dogs have always been his life as he never married. He’s always had bull terriers. His live has revolved around them. He’s traveled the country showing them. His current bull terrier Ginger is National Obedience Champion.
One weekend day he’d gone to a farm auction with my mom and Ranger. My mom, being a farm, loved helping do stuff around the farm. My bro purchased some piece of farm equipment (I’m not a farm girl so I no the name’s of nothing) so my mom drove it while my bro and Ranger walked.
The heat was too much for Ranger and he got heat stroke. After initially taking him to the vet for IV fluids he got referred to a specialty vet because the he needed to be monitored. It was just minutes from my house. My brother got to visit Ranger a once a night. Carter and I went over there with him since it was so close.
Ranger wanted nothing to do with my bro. It was so sad. I get teary just thinking about it. You could tell he felt betrayed. Ranger gave Carter and I lots of love which only caused my brother more pain and hurt. That dog was his life. And now that dog wanted nothing to do with him.
Ranger gave him the cold shoulder for about a week. That look in a dog’s eyes when they feel like you’ve betrayed them is the worst.
I’ve learned from my brother’s mistake. Sadly, sometimes that only way you learn what is dangerous to you dog is when you go through it or see someone else go through it. And sometimes that can happen too late. Fortunately in this situation it wasn’t too late just a very expensive mistake.
Why your dog needs to be hydrated Just like people dogs needs to be hydrated. Water is essential to proper function of the body. I mean, that’s what I’m told. My body has functioned properly in years so maybe science is onto something here.
Exercise and illness are other examples of times when dogs may need additional water. Just like in humans lack of water can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and organ failure to name a few. You’d think with the number of kidney stones I’ve had, I’d just drink more water. Instead, when I feel one coming on i’m like ‘oh yeah, this is why I should drink water’ then just go on not drinking water. But I’d never put my dogs through that kind of pain.
Dogs can’t tell you when they’re thirsty so it’s important that you look out for them. They aren’t going to come to you and tell you that they need something to drink. Sure, they may do so passive-aggressively by going to drink out of the toilet. But who wants that? So you need to be proactive.
How to keep your dog hydrated
Have ample amounts of clean, fresh water available. When we had our first dog, it didn’t occur to me to clean his water dish on a regular basis. I’d just dump a glass of water in there whenever I noticed it getting low.
But have you ever looked at a dog’s water dish? It can collect a lot of dust and debris in a day. My dogs bring is so much dirt with them. Not to mentions leaves and other things they seem to carry inside. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
With two dogs I’m now getting them water much sooner than I was with one dog. I constantly need to check to see if they’ve drank it all. And since I’m on dogs three and four now, I do a great job on getting them fresh water every day. Clean their water dish daily, whether it looks like it needs it or not. Then load it up with plenty of fresh water
Put multiple water dishes around the house. If it’s easier for them to get to, they may consume more. In the summer I tend to leave one on the deck so the dogs can always get a drink when they need it. I just fill it up when I go out there with them and happy hour is open!
Caesar tends to avoid the heat since he gets hot so fast with his brown fur. He’s good at policing himself to come in. Dixie is a different story. She’s from the south so I think she thrives in the heat. I don’t know what the poor girl is gonna do when she experiences her first Minnesota Winter. When it’s been really hot, I make her come into the air conditioning and cool off for a bit.
She’s also gotten good over the last couple weeks with wanting to come in more often on her own. I think she’s feeling comfortable with us and knows she’s part of the family so she wants to be close by. But I don’t leave it up to my dog’s discretion. I make them take a break from the heat and sun, thus keeping them better hydrated.
Always have water on hand when you’re out and about. I’m amazed at how long this took me to remember. Maybe because with Rebel and Wrigley we didn’t take them to the dog park. I don’t even know if dog parks were a thing 20 years ago.
I do remember when it started to become a thought for us though. We had been out with the dogs then ended up going on a drive. It was super hot out and despite being in the air conditioned car the dogs were getting hot. We stopped to grabbed a bottle of water at a convenience store. But they didn’t have water dishes. So we just filled up the cup holders with water. It did the trick in a pinch.
With Caesar and Dixie I take them to the dog park four to six times a week. So making sure we have water readily available is a priority. The dog park has water faucets for dogs that are available April through October. But they don’t want you to leave water jugs and dishes lying around the park. So unless you bring your own, you might not be able to use the water.
I try to keep a couple full water jugs in my car. If we leave the house without filling up a water jug, I’ll just stop at the convenience store and grab a gallon jug. Plus, I almost always have a bottle of water with me that I intend to drink, but don’t because I’m not a fan. So I can always use that for the dogs.
I bought some collapsable water dishes on Amazon. I keep one in my dog park bag. Yes I have a dog park bag. It basically is just a purse that I keep the water dish in along with my inhaler, Epi pen, and Benadryl. You know, your basic dog park survival items because I never know when my dogs are going to need water or nature is going to try and kill me. I like that the collapsable water dishes fold flat so they don’t take up a lot of room in my bag. They also come with a carabiner that you can clip to anything. Easy peasy.
Look for shade. One of my favorite dog parks has very few shades options. I only take the dogs there early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Since Caesar is brown he gets hot easily, another reason that I frequent the dog park at the cooler times of day. I take the dogs to the shade and give them water to help the cool down process. For whatever reason, my dogs tend to like dog park water better than at home water. Maybe it’s the extra slobber factor. Shade + water = keepin’ dogs cool.
The Ice cube trick. Frozen water, not the rapper/actor. My vet once suggested giving our dog Rebel ice cubes because he wasn’t eating or drinking. He had already been given IV fluids and was basically sent home to ride out his final hours. Spoiler alert, he rebounded and lived another five years after throwing up a sock.
I don’t know how I feel about ice cubes. For one, it didn’t work with Rebel. I mean, he’d eat them if I accidentally dropped one on the floor and he thought by eating it he was getting away with something. But when he was severely dehydrated from illness he wanted nothing to do with frozen water.
Secondly, my dogs always seem to have an adverse reaction to extreme temperature food and water. They usually throw up from ice cubes or if they’ve quickly eaten something that has dropped off the grill while scorching hot. But if it works for your dog and your vet suggests it then I guess go with it. I’ve just avoided since it doesn’t work in this house.
Signs of Dehydration Knowing the signs of dehydration can be beneficial in preventing it. According to this article on the American Kennel Club website, here are some signs of dehydration in dogs:
- Decrease in appetite
- Lethargy or less than normal energy level
- Excessive panting
- Dry gums and nose
- Dry looking eyes
- Decrease in skin’s elasticity
Some of this symptoms of dehydration are easier to recognize than others. Obviously it’s easier to notice when your dog has had a decrease in appetite or energy level. The others can be a little trickier to recognize, especially if you’ve never noticed how wet or dry your dogs gums and nose usually are. If you start noticing these things under normal conditions now, it will be much easier to notice when dehydration is setting in.
If you ever suspect dehydration or heat stroke, get your dog to the vet. At the very least, make a call to them so you can explain your dog’s symptoms and see what course of action you need to take. Time can be critical so error on the side of caution.
Dehydration in dogs can be serious and sometimes deadly. It can also be very costly. Keeping your dog properly hydrated can take some thinking, especially if you’re away from home. The more you plan for it, the easier it becomes. If I can do it as a non-water lover than so can you! After all, you owe it to your best friend.
Got tips and tricks for keeping your dog hydrated? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments.