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keep your dog hydrated

Keeping your Dog Hydrated

It’s summer in South Africa, and in Cape Town, we’re overheating properly with temperatures soaring in the high 30s.

Dehydration can be very dangerous to your dog, and as a pet owner it’s your responsibility to ensure that your dog has access to clean water at all times – especially when you’re taking your dog out for a walk or a drive.

Here’s how to spot signs of dehydration in your pooch and some useful tricks for countering dehydration when you’re out and about.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can kick in quickly, and it’s easy for a dog to become dehydrated if they’ve been running around the park playing for an hour or they’ve spent some time in a hot environment – sometimes it’s just a hot day and everyone in town is walking around with heatstroke.

Remember that dogs don’t sweat the same way humans do. Instead, they sweat through their paw pads, making it difficult to really see when they’re struggling to cope with heat. However panting will often be the first sign that a dog is overheating. Sweat plays a very small role in cooling down your dog. Dogs rely on panting to do most of their temperature regulation. When dogs pant, they evaporate moisture from their tongues and the lining of their lungs, cooling them as air passes over the moist tissue.

Signs of dehydration in a pet can include:

  • Weakness in severe cases
  • Quick breathing
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Dry nose
  • Restlessness

Tips for Home

When you’re at home, you should always ensure that your dog has access to clean water; at least once every couple of days, give the bowl a proper rinse, clean and dry.

Some dogs can be sensitive to tap water; if you have repeated issues with stomach upsets and you’re sure it isn’t their food, it could be their water. Tap water that’s been boiled at least once could solve the problem – though many dogs will refuse to drink water after it’s been boiled.

If your dog is refusing to drink tap water (or boiled tap water), then you might have to buy a few bottles of mineral water instead and keep these around the house – and it can’t hurt to drink some more water yourself while you’re at it!

If your dog is reluctant to drink water, then it just takes a little bit of ingenuity to inspire your pet. Freeze some treats (vegetables and fruits work well) and give these to your pet on a hot day instead. What I like to do is take old margarine or Tupperware containers, fill with water and drop in a few different, interesting treats that freeze well; freeze overnight and then turn-out the frozen blocks the next morning. The dogs will lick the blocks to get to the treats. It’s a sneaky way to get them hydrated in the process and it also keeps them entertained.

Don’t Give Your Dog…

Fruits and vegetables are great for your dog, but the same isn’t true for fruit juice – it contains far too much sugar, and it’s often too much for your dog’s system to handle. Yes, dogs can be diabetics – and often this is caused by their owners who just can’t resist giving their dogs a treat.

Your dog should avoid things like fizzy drinks and alcohol, too. We know that most people won’t outright give this to their dogs – but remember that it can also happen by accident, so don’t leave any open drinks where your dogs can drink out of them (or knock them over!).

Travelling Things

Your dogs are like your children – and they need just as many things packed in for when you’re travelling. Ideally, ensure that you have a small water bowl for travelling and a bottle of water on you at all times – even for shorter trips.

Make sure that you stop at least once every fifteen or twenty minutes and allow your dog to stretch their legs, have a treat and drink some water; it can only be good to do the same for yourself! If your car is air-conditioned you can stretch the stop-periods a little longer to every 30min to 1 hour. I also like to ensure that I block out, or lessen direct sun exposure from the windows by either throwing a t-shirt or towel over the window, or placing window sun shades on the back windows – these are typically made for kids, and you can pick them up in any kids store. See our article on travelling with dogs for more travel tips.

Remember to keep your dog on its leash when you’re getting out of the car, and stop only at safe, designated points – many garage stops will have special drinking points for customers and their dogs.

Hiking and Walks

Most owners know their dogs should be getting exercise, but most people will also forget to take along a bottle of water for themselves when they go hiking.

Pack a preparation bag for your dog if you’re going on a short walk or hiking trail. Ensure that the bag includes all of the necessities – including a bottle of water, a set of bowls and some treats. If your dog has a special toy they like travelling with, pack this too.

It also helps to be environmentally conscious when it comes to your dog’s waste: Carry a small scoop and a set of bags with you, and if your dog stops to poop, take a minute to pick it up, tie it in one of the bags and dispose of it properly – most hiking trails will have stops for this.

You can also find plenty of dog-designated stops on hiking trails that have water stop-points for your animals.

Even if you’re not driving, you should remember to make regular stops so your dog gets a chance to rest – and you get a breather for the hiking trip, too.

Safety While Hiking

Taking your dog on a trip? You might encounter snakes and ticks on your travels too. Here’s more about what you should do in the event of an emergency.

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