A cat drinking from a bowl.

Water is essential for life as we know it. From the tiniest plant to animals like elephants, we would be nothing without water. 

Most of our clients at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital have a good understanding about how important water is to their pets as well. It can make you a little crazy, though, to know exactly how much is enough and what too much water intake looks like. We are here to help calm your concerns.

Is My Pet Drinking Enough?

Our team commonly gets asked if a particular pet is drinking enough water. Owners often worry about this, but in most cases when we look into the issue, pets by and large keep themselves well hydrated. 

It’s an important question, though! About 70% of our bodies are composed of water, and water is an essential component of almost every biological process imaginable. 

In general, dogs and cats should drink about one ounce of water per pound of body weight a day. So, a 10-pound cat should be taking in about 10 ounces of water, while a 60-pound dog should drink closer to 60 ounces (two quarts).

It gets a little more complicated, though, when you start to take into account environmental conditions and the feeding of canned food. A dog in a cool climate who eats a can of food daily is going to need much less water than one who is in a hot, humid environment who eats only kibble.

Puppies and kittens, in general, consume more water. They need more with their faster metabolism and growth! 

Pets may need to drink more water if they are hot, exercising a lot, or medically need to stay hydrated (such as for cats with urinary issues or pets with kidney disease).

Encourage your pet’s drinking habits by:

  • Providing fresh, room temperature water at all times
  • Using running water sources like drinking fountains
  • Washing bowls often
  • Changing water locations to a quiet, undisturbed area
  • Using canned food
  • Providing water flavored with a little broth or tuna (offer plain as well)

A pet who is dehydrated may appear to have sunken, dull eyes, a dry tongue and mouth, and may have non-elastic skin. Dehydration is always a cause for concern. Please contact us immediately if you think your pet is dehydrated. 

Pet Drinking Habits:  When Is It Too Much? 

Drinking too much, on the other hand, tends to be a problem we see often. If your pet’s drinking habits are on the increase, called polydipsia, the water itself is not typically harmful. What is worrisome, though, is whatever is causing the uptick in water consumption. 

If your pet has just spent time outdoors on a warm day, or went for a run with you, of course they will need to drink more. If this change is persistent, though, it is cause for concern. 

Many disease processes can lead to increased water intake (and usually increased urination as a by-product). They tend to all be very different in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Possible causes of polydipsia (and polyuria) include:

Appropriate diagnostic testing is in order to get to the root of the problem and help. 

Water is an important component in the care of your pet. Paying attention to your pet’s drinking habits and alerting us to changes can be a very helpful tool when it comes to recognizing problems. Don’t take water for granted, it is essential for life.