One of the questions we always ask prior to a doctor exam is about your pet’s water intake. Does it seem normal? Is your pet drinking less than usual? More than usual? Urinating more or vomiting after water?
There are many reasons that animals may drink more water than usual. Hot weather and excessive exercise can both make pets thirsty. Diseases like liver disease or diabetes can cause increased thirst and increased urination. Illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting sometimes cause pets to drink more to replace the fluids they have lost. And certain medications, like steroids or heart medications, can include increased thirst and increased urination as side effects.
Dogs are messy drinkers and it can sometimes be difficult to know how much water they actually consume based on the puddles on the floor. Very active dogs, lactating dogs and puppies need more water than other dogs, but in general, a dog needs one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. So a ten pound dog needs a little over a cup of water per day and a 100 pound dog will drink 12 1/2 cups per day. If your dog’s water consumption has changed so significantly that you are noticing it, or if your dog that normally sleeps through the night needs a trip outside to urinate at 3AM, he probably needs an exam to rule out a medical issue.
Water consumption for cats is a little different and more tied to what foods they eat. Water and hydration are just as important for health for cats, but research indicates that cats require less water per pound of body weight than dogs do. As a species, cats are not big water drinkers. Of course, there are always exceptions. Our office cat, Rambo, drinks a lot of water and knows how to turn the sink faucet on. (Turning it off when he’s finished is another story.) He uses the litterbox frequently too, but Rambo has always been this way and this is normal for him. Madison, our other office cat, never drinks out of the faucet and rarely out of the water bowl. This is also normal for her.
How much water your cat will need to drink depends heavily of what food you feed. Canned cat food has much more water in it than dry food, with dry food containing about 10% water and canned containing between 68-78% depending on the brand. Clearly, a cat that eats all or mostly dry food will need to drink more water out of the bowl (or faucet) than a cat that eats all or mostly canned food. Cats that fall into the category of dry food only/not big water drinkers are the patients that are chronically dehydrated and most at risk for health conditions like urinary tract disease or urinary blockage. If your cat falls into this category, we can help you make the transition to canned food. If your cat doesn’t like canned food, call us anyway, there are other options you can try to get more water into your cat’s diet.