Most pet owners spend time studying various pet food labels. How often do we hear owners talking about pet nutrition at walks in the park, competitions and shows?
The one thing that is far more important is water.
Water is essential for health. While it can take weeks or months to detect health effects that may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, dehydration is instant. It leads to our pets being lethargic, skin loses elasticity and in severe cases can even lead to death.
The total water content of a healthy dog is approximately 70% of its body weight. For a Labrador at 30kg water makes up 21kg of total body weight.
Dogs are constantly losing water. This could be through panting, urine, faeces or saliva. Only minor water lose occurs through sweating and dogs only sweat small amounts through their pads.
Different environmental temperatures play a large part on how much water is lost through respiration. Here in the UK a summer humidity level of around 89% is typical. This means dogs tend to pant more to cool themselves off. This increases the amount of water lost through salivation.
Mild dehydration can be treated by encouraging your pet to drink, thereby replacing lost fluids. Should your dog be suffering from severe dehydration it will most probably refuse to eat and drink. They will now need immediate veterinary care.
It is impossible to calculate how much water is required daily by your dog. Natural mechanisms stimulate your dog to drink when hydration is low.
Always ensure clean water is available for when they need it.