While some furry housemates might not have any trouble guzzling all the water they require, others aren’t always as good about keeping hydrated. Our cat Bear is the latter type and as such we’ve had to try some interesting methods to ensure he’s getting all the water he needs. It took a while, and some fancy water fountain returns, but we finally have a working system that’s vet approved and…get this…doesn’t require anything that you probably don’t already have on hand. How’s that for easy?
Let’s begin by talking about why it’s so important that your dog or cat gets plenty of water. Naturally there are the obvious problems that moderate to major dehydration can lead to, but there are also some long term effects as well. A host of internal issues can spring up, many of them in later years, one of the worst and most common for felines being urinary difficulties or infections.
Now it’s important to remember that not all animals will require a ton of water if they’re getting enough moisture from wet food. For example I’ve read several studies tracking how little water wildcats consume if their prey is plentiful and juicy enough. I’ve also stumbled upon more than one report discussing how cats don’t eat near water, which is great since most of us put the food and water dishes side by side…whoops! Bearing that in mind though (yes I’m absolutely going for the pun) cats and dogs who are drinking too little, or not at all, might need a little help, so let’s take a look at a few ways we can offer them a friendly water boost.
- A Splash of Hydra
Add a little pour of water to wet food feedings, then shake it up a bit to get the flavoring throughout. Animals who enjoy the “gravy” varieties should have no problem with a little extra moisture floating around their food and the flavor will prevent them from turning up their noses at the boring old aqua standard. I don’t recommend this if mixing wet and dry- which I can’t really recommend anyway. There’s a lot of info about how too many (not all, but a lot of) dry foods can grow bacteria in less than an hour if they come in contact with moisture and how that bacteria can cause stomach issues for dogs and cats- which nobody wants.
- Fridge Protection
Most people keep extra food from open cans in their refrigerator and with good reason: the cans say to! Storing food this way however tends to dry it out, so by adding a little extra water before tucking it away you’ll help make it taste like new and give your pet more moisture with each serving.
- Bobbing for Treats
This one is my favorite because just watching Bear try to resist the temptation is amusing all by itself. I hope that doesn’t sound mean, but we’ve had such a terrible problem getting him to drink that every drop he laps up feels like a victory!
As the title here suggests, you basically just float some of your fuzzy friend’s favorite treats in a really shallow dish of water. Make sure the treats are eaten right away, don’t leave them to sit or the same bacteria problems mentioned earlier could apply. If your pet’s tempted enough, they’ll lap right through that water to get the goods and you’ll have sneakily added just a little more hydration to their daily routine!
- Waters Away
Though good to keep in mind for any critter, this one’s probably more for pup companions as most people don’t take their kitties (or birds, or salamanders, etc.,) out around town. No matter your passenger’s species though, it’s important to remember that being away from home means they’re limited on resources. Just as you might need to make a pit stop for a beverage, your pet might need an on the road drink as well. By keeping a bottle of water and a portable dish on hand, (there are some great collapsible options that don’t take up much space,) you can ensure that your furry buddy is comfortable and well hydrated during your travels.
It should go without saying, but just in case: If you suspect that your animal has any serious dehydration or digestion issues you should contact your veterinarian for help. The tips I’ve provided here address only a minor imbalance, no different than a person who doesn’t get as much water as they should but is not suffering from any serious illnesses. If you’re simply not sure, contact your vet for help. With our fuzzy friends it’s always better to play it safe.
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