Water and Dehydration

Vet Tech Tips All Animal Tips Advise Cat Water


What type of water do you give your pet? Most pets get the same water that we drink, which can be good or bad.

Vet Tech Tips All Animal Tips Advise Filtered Water
Vet Tech Tips Filtered Water

Filtered Water

Filtered water is best for your pet because it does not have chemicals like chlorine or fluoride. Did you know that most city water has chlorine and fluoride in it, which can be harmful and even toxic to our pets?

Testing Your Water

If you use filtered water from the tap, filtered water from the refrigerator, well water, or other water that is not processed out of a plant then it should not have these chemicals in it. If you are unsure, you can have your water tested. There are home kits like this one (https://amzn.to/3QT5RFi) that you can try, you can ask your water department for their analysis of city water, you can have a company come to your house to test the water, or you can even send your water to a lab to be tested. Make sure you research to figure out which method works best for you and what is available in your area.

Chemicals in the Water Harming Our Pets

Our pet’s bodies are not meant to get chemicals in water, the flame retardant on our couches and carpets, toxins in the air, etc., that they are exposed to on a daily basis all cause free radicals to form in our pet’s bodies and they can cause harm including cancer. We cannot control most of these things, but we can control the water we give them.

See my article about Feeding and Water Bowls for Pets for the best type of bowls to get for your dog or cat and how to take care of the bowls.

Vet Tech Tips All Animal Tips Advise Rabbits Drinking Water
Vet Tech Tips Rabbits Drinking Water


Make sure your pet of any kind – dog, cat, bird, small mammal, reptile, etc. has fresh water available at all times, so they do not get dehydrated. Just like us, pets need fresh water to drink. On hot days, they need more – most pets do not sweat making it important that on hot days they get enough water to drink. Dogs and cats do sweat on their paws, but it’s not enough to completely cool them down. Dogs will pant but this causes even more dehydration. Cats normally do not pant, and if your cat is panting, it can be a serious issue and call your veterinary office right away.

Vet Tech Tips All Animal Tips Advise Dog Drinking Water
Vet Tech Tips Dog Drinking Water

How to Prevent Dehydration

If you are worried that your pet is not getting enough water you can try having multiple bowls available, they are cleaned regularly (at least every few days with soap and hot water – or put in the dishwasher), and/or add water to their food especially if they get kibble, are older, have kidney or bladder issues, a diabetic, or it is hot outside and only if they eat all of their food at once.

Skin Test to Check for Dehydration

Vet Tech Tips All Animal Tips Advise Skin Turgor
Vet Tech Tips Skin Turgor

If you are concerned that your pet is not getting enough water you can test the back of its neck (skin turgor). If the skin goes back down quickly then they are hydrated, if it is slow to go back down it can be slightly dehydrated, and if it stays up for more than a few seconds they are severely dehydrated and you should contact your veterinarian to have them examined and possibly get fluids that can be given under the skin or in a vein. Make sure to test it in multiple spots around the neck to make sure they truly have a slow skin turgor.  If your pet is overweight the skin might not have enough room to be pulled up enough, just because the skin falls back quickly does not mean that they are not dehydrated. It is best to test this when you do not suspect they are dehydrated to know what is normal for your pet.

The vet can also run blood work and/or a urinalysis (test the urine) to see if your pet is adequately hydrated or not. Some of the parameters they look at include the red blood cells or hematocrit and urine-specific gravity (the concentration of the urine). If these numbers are high it could mean that your pet is dehydrated. They also look for signs on the physical exam that include the skin turgor test and gum tissue moistness.


Make sure your pet has access to fresh water throughout the day, they have clean bowls, and they are drinking the same water you are.  To find out the best type of bowls to use to feed and give water to your pet read my article on Feeding and Water Bowls for Your Pets.

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