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Pets Have Special Summer Needs to Heed

Jul 24, 2012 12:08PM ● By Jody Page

Keeping pets hydrated in warm weather is very important to their health. Any dog or cat should always have a bowl of fresh water next to their food, topped up and changed regularly. The pet will be able to tell if the water has been standing around for too long, so changing it often will help keep them hydrated.

If pets don’t drink enough water, it could lead to serious health complications in the future. Dehydration is serious because it not only involves a loss of water, but also electrolytes, including essential minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium.

Be aware of a pet’s behavior, watching for loss of appetite, irritability or fatigue. These are telltale signs of dehydration. Also check for dryness of the nose, mouth, gums and eyes. Dogs do not have sweat glands to cool them like humans do, so they pant to stay cool. Cats often prefer to drink running water rather than water from a bowl, and may be seen perching on the edge of the sink to lap up water from the tap. Feline water fountains are even available to accommodate this need.

To help cats that, for whatever reason, do not drink enough, add a teaspoon of water to the cat food at each meal, and then increase it to two if needed. Go slowly, though, because if the food is watered down too much, they won’t like it. Instead of plain water, the water found in canned tuna can be used to add flavor.

Do not be alarmed if a cat has never been much of a water drinker, because cats tend to get much of their moisture from food. That is why they have a low internal signal to drink, and why wet food is better for them. Even mixing half wet and half dry is better than straight dry food, which can cause health problems.

Never leave pets unattended in a vehicle in the hot weather. Even with all windows open, the inside temperature of a parked car can reach deadly levels in minutes. If you suspect a dog or cat is suffering from dehydration, contact a veterinarian.

Jody Page is the owner of Page’s Healthy Paws, 540 S. Rand Rd., Wauconda. Page’s carries an extensive variety of natural and organic pet foods, treats and supplements, and specializes in helping customers to find the best products for their pets. For more information, call 847-550-1002 or visit