Keeping Your Pets Hydrated

Our furry friends can get dehydrated quickly!  Especially during the hot summer months.  Make sure you know about your pet’s needs and give them access to fresh water at all times.

You may have noticed that your dog is not able to sweat.  Dogs cool themselves by panting, and the more they pant, the more water they lose.

Just as in humans, hydration is very important to your pet’s health.  Know the signs of dehydration in order to act quickly.

Signs of dehydration:

  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Difficulty walking (ataxia)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive panting
  • Elevated temperature in instances of heat stroke

It is important to familiarize oneself with the potential for heat stroke during the hot summer months.  While heat stroke can happen anytime, it is commonly seen during the hotter months of the year, particularly with high humidity.  Dogs cool themselves by panting, finding cool ground to lay on and shaded areas.  During the hotter months, it is sometimes difficult for them to regulate their temperature.  If you suspect your pet may be experiencing heat stroke, seek veterinary care immediately.  Being proactive can help avoid emergencies like these.  Always offer cool fresh water, provide shade, and if your pet can be inside, allow them to do so.  If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them as well.

Ensure your pet has easy access to water bowls and that they are familiar with the location.  Ice cubes can be added to the bowl for a fun and refreshing option.  During the hotter months, multiple water dishes may be necessary.  This will ensure that they always have access to water.  Make it a routine to clean and refill your pet’s water dish before leaving the house each day.

If you plan on traveling with your pet this summer, research portable dog bowls.  Some options allow for the attachment of a water bottle to the bowl.  Whichever option you choose will help to keep your pet hydrated, even for a short trip.


Written by:

Seana Juliano, DVM student extern, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2023