Few things are more amusing than the spectacle of a dog lapping up water. They're so messy and splashy, it's a wonder any water actually makes it into their mouths.
But it does make it. And your dog needs it!
Water intake (among other behaviors like appetite, energy level, and play) is a key indicator of how your BFF's feeling. Any change in her intake could signal a potential issue.
But you can't respond to these changes unless you know what's normal for your dog. And since every dog is unique in size and metabolism, water intake will vary from one pup to another. Observe your gal for a few days to get a sense of how much water intake is her "normal."
Dogs will typically drink after exercise, eating, and sleeping. They'll also drink sporadically throughout the day, so get to know your dog’s habits when she's healthy.
Another great way to know if your dog is drinking enough water is by — wait for it — smelling her pee! (Ah, the joys of parenthood.)
You don't have to stick your face in there or anything. Just stand near your dog when she's urinating, and see if you notice a strong odor, or a dark yellowish / orange-y color. If you do notice any of those qualities, your dog might be dehydrated.
NOTE: if her urine is pink or red, that's an indication of blood in the urine(!) and you should get your dog to the vet right away.
Skin elasticity is another good indicator of proper hydration (just like humans). Gently lift your dog's scruff (the skin on the back of her neck) until it's taut, and then let it go. If it immediately falls back into place, congratulations — you're the proud parent of a well-hydrated pup. If it takes longer than a few seconds to fall into place, your dog could be dehydrated.
If you believe your dog is dehydrated but she's not interested in drinking water, a trip to the vet is in order. When an animal is dehydrated for too long, it can cause damage to the kidneys as well as other internal organs.
You know how we roll — when it comes to doggy health, better safe than sorry.
To ensure the healthiest water intake for your gal, follow these guidelines:
Water Temperature = Just Right
While it is tempting to give a hot dog cold water, it’s actually much healthier to give her room-temperature water.
When a warm dog ingests ice cold water, her body requires a lot of energy to warm up the water. Cold water can cause tummy aches or vomiting.
Bonus tip: That exact same rule applies to humans. Room temperature water for everyone!
How Much — Not Too Much
Too much water can also cause vomiting. If you've just brought your dog in from a hot day, or a bout of vigorous play, her first instinct will be to head straight for the water bowl and drink it dry.
If she has access to an unlimited supply, she's likely to drink too much and then puke it back up. (No one's saying dogs are geniuses.)
Excessive water intake can also cause a condition called bloat. Read more about that here.
The fix: Offer your dog several small bowls of water every 10-15 minutes until she's cooled off and relaxed. Once she's calmed down, you can put her normal water bowl back down and let her drink as she pleases.
Every dog is different when it comes to water intake and bathroom habits. Get to know your dog’s routine while she is young and healthy, so you can recognize potential problems as she ages.
Changes in water intake can be caused by anything from minor issues (like being in an unfamiliar place or eating some icky grass), to more serious medical issues. Don't put off calling your vet, even if you suspect it's no big deal.
Fun Fact: When a dog laps up water, she makes a kind of ladle with the underside of her tongue to pull the water into her mouth. Science!
Authored by Emily Bruer via FetchFind