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Thirsty Thursday: Is Your Dog Dehydrated?

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Hey hey there, welcome to Kol’s Notes. Can I get you a drink?

It’s thirsty Thursday and we’re serving up Koly-tinis. The Mama gives us these anytime that we might be not drinking enough or when she wants us to drink an extra lot – like in the winter when the Nana jacks up the heat in the house and it feels like our house has been relocated to the face of the sun. The Mama doesn’t want us to get dehydrated, you know.
A lot of people tend to overlook water when thinking about their dog’s diet.

A dog’s body is 70% – 80% water. All bodily functions depend on water and it’s important to not only make sure your dog is getting enough water, but to make sure they are getting it in ways their body can use.
Crazy Dog Fact: Did you know that a dog can lose all of it’s body fat and up to half it’s body protein and still survive, but that the loss of even 10% of the body’s water could be fatal?*
*Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Traditional veterinary advice suggests that most dogs will regulate their water consumption without any guidance from you, but in my experience that is not always the case. Getting Felix to drink enough water used to drive the Mama half insane. No matter what she did, he was always just a little dehydrated. The idea that your dog will drink if they are thirsty may not even make good sense. By the time you feel thirsty, you are likely already dehydrated. For people who work outside the home and crated their pups during the day or those potty training a dog, restricting access to water may see like an ideal solution, but it forces your dog into a constant cycle of dehydration, then re-hydration which is really hard on the body.

Dehydration is a big deal.

A dehydrated dog is not able to regulate their own body temperature, as water is an important part of the “pant & cool” process. Water also helps to carry nutrients to the cells and waste back out of the body. Water is needed to keep all the major organs functioning. Chronic dehydration can even damage major organs and is believed by some to aggravate conditions like urinary stones, hiatal hernias, constipation, chronic pain, blood pressure, asthma, allergies and diabetes. At a very interesting lecture that the Mama attended this past Spring, Franco Cavalari, a prominent biochemist even showed how water interacts with the body at a cellular level and how dehydration has the potential to set the entire body out of kilter and speed up the aging process. (Very cool stuff, very very technical. Made the Mama’s brain feel like Jell-o).
So how much water does your dog need?

Every dog is different, but a good “rule of paw” is that your dog should be drinking 1/2 oz. to 1 oz. per pound of body weight. This is only a guideline though. 
Dry kibbles can contribute to chronic dehydration. 
To create a product that keeps well, kibble is cooked until there is only 6% – 10% moisture left. In order to digest the food, it get re-hydrated in the stomach, then processed by the body. Some dogs  That takes extra water and there is some evidence to suggest that dry kibbles can be really hard on your dog’s system. Your dog also needs extra water when it’s hot and extra water when they are exercising. 
How do you entice your dog to increase their water intake?
  • Always have fresh, cold water available. Refresh the bowl frequently. If you’ll be out for a while and want to keep it cool, consider adding ice.
  • Get a fancy fountain. I have no idea why, but most dogs love running water! Water fountains keep water moving and fresh. Many have filters to keep it clean and some even keep the water chilled. Fancy. Oh Mama, where is the Visa?
  • Pre-soak your kibbles. Add a little warm water to your kibble and let the water soak in prior to serving. This ensures your dog gets enough extra water to process the dry kibble. Kol’s Note: This is not recommended for kibbles that contain citric acid, particularly if you have a large breed, as this can be associated with bloat.
  • Feed a hydrated diet. Raw diets naturally contain a much higher moisture content, as do canned diets. If you are looking for something with the convenience of kibble and the nutritional benefits of a hydrated diet, consider a dehydrated raw product like Addiction or Honest Kitchen. These dried products are designed to be mixed with water before serving. 
  • Serve water with a kick! Tempt reluctant drinkers with doggy cocktails like Kolytinis or Chicken Beer. Adding meat stock and veggies to water can excite almost any pup. Choose a low-fat, low sodium stock. Over time, you can slowly reduce the amount of stock to get back to plain water.
  • Offer Frozen treats. Pupsicles like our Cheeseburger Pops or like Freezy Pups treats can help to hydrate our pet when they don’t feel like drinking. 
Do you think your dog gets enough water? Have you ever measured how much they drink to be sure?

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