Q & A: Staying hydrated

Q: How much water do dogs and cats need?

A: A normal dog’s requirement for water is 40 to 50mℓ per kg every 24 hours. This will obviously vary a bit with changes in weather, exercise and diet. If your pet drinks too much, it could be a sign of the syndrome called polyuria/polydypsia (pu/pd). It is common in dogs and cats.

Several conditions may cause this:

* Hormonal conditions

* Diabetes mellitus (common diabetes)

* Diabetes insipidus – a hormonal condition caused by multiple diseases, where the animal’s kidneys can’t keep fluid back and most fluids are lost through the urine.

* Cushions disease – a hormonal condition which is caused by increased stress hormone in the body. It can also be caused by chronic treatment with Prednisone, which some dogs use for itchy skin.

* Chronic kidney failure

* Liver failure

* Pyometra – a condition which occurs in older, unspayed females about two weeks after their heat. They will get an infection of their uterus which can potentially be life-threatening. It is also seen in dogs where injections or tablets are used to stop them from coming on heat.

* Psychogenic – a behavioural problem where dogs just drink more than they should.

* Hyperthyroidism – a disease more commonly seen in cats in the UK and in the East, where they have an overactive thyroid gland and thus an extremely fast metabolism.

You probably won’t notice if your dog or cat doesn’t drink enough water. Many general illnesses will decrease both food and water consumption. It is the decrease in appetite that will usually be noticed by pet owners.

Although there are other symptoms associated with the illnesses noted above, pet owners are likely to spot the increase in water consumption first. When a dog or cat drinks more than 100mℓ per kg in 24 hours, the owner should be concerned and take the animal to the vet.

Dr Louis Hoek, veterinarian

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