Winter, Water and our Animal Friends

Winter Hiking
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The winter season in Colorado can be dry and brittle…thirst is always a factor. Moisture evaporates fast. I’m so grateful for indoor plumbing…turning on the faucet and having clear, clean and cool water fill a glass is wonderful! When I fill my glass, I’ve made a habit of checking my furry friend’s water dish

Animals can loose all of their fat and half of their protein and survive. However, if they loose only 10 % of body water, serious illness can occur. If you can feel a dryness in your mouth, dehydration has begun. Our animal friends get just as thirsty as we do. A dog or cat can become dehydrated in only a few hours if fresh water is not present. I keep three dishes of water in my house and two outside.

I recently learned something from my vet. If I feel the inside of my Pieper’s gums are dry, it’s a clue that she is dehydrated; if moist she is fine.

How Much Water?

Water constitutes 84% of a newborn puppy and 60% of an adult dog. Water is necessary for almost every function in an animals body. Hot temperatures and exercise or nursing will also increase the needed amount of water two or three times above normal. Don’t take water for granted, provide access to water at all times! Also, considering the huge quantity and importance of water consumed in a lifetime it is important that the quality of the water is the best possible. I have a water filter on my faucet; Peiper drinks filtered water at home.

Animals need to consume 2.5 times the amount of water, as its daily intake of food. If an animal eats 2 lbs. of dry food it should consume 5 lbs. of water. (There are 8 lbs. in a gallon.) If he eats 4 oz. of dry food, he should drink 10 ounces of water (11/4 cup).

Water Quality

Untreated water can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites; Giardia is one of the most common problems acquired through untreated water. Household tap water is considered to be very safe, though just as with people, water that is high in nitrates, iron, or magnesium can pose long term health risks. Many pet owners give their animals bottled water if their source is questionable.

Water Container

However, the finest water in the world will not help if it is placed in a dirty container. Unwashed water bowls can harbor all kinds of bad organisms. Water bowls should be washed daily and disinfected periodically. Stainless steel bowls are the easiest to keep clean and resist scratches that can harbor bacteria, stoneware crock-style dishes are also a good option. Buy a good quality bowl and after it starts to look worn and scratched, replace it. Remember that if you would not drink the water from your pet’s bowl, then neither should your pet.

Water Temperature

One other consideration in quality is temperature. Pets prefer cool water in the summer and room temperature water in the winter. If you have an outside pet be sure to provide them with a heated water bucket or container. Snow is not an acceptable form of water for dogs or cats.

Water Recap:

  • Available at all times.
  • Quality is good.
  • Dish is always clean.
  • Appropriate temperature

Remember, if the water is unhealthy and you won’t drink it, your pets shouldn’t either. Pets experience the same physical problems from unhealthy water as humans do. Many times it’s worse for the pet than for humans because pets age so much faster. For example, a pet drinking unhealthy water until 2 years of age is the same as a human drinking unhealthy water for the first 14 years of life.

Happy Hydrated Trails!


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