The importance of water cannot be taken for granted, especially in these hotter months. Water is essential to maintaining your dog's body functions and preventing dehydration, overheating and heatstroke.
I witness too often this heartbreaking scenario or one similar: a dog accommodating its thoughtless owner (the more intelligent species?) by pulling a skateboard or running alongside a bicycle on a scorching day with its dry tongue lolling out the side of its mouth, its eyes bloodshot and glazed.
Just because a dog can't or won't say no doesn't mean it is not suffering harmful physical damage; some highly focused dogs will not stop playing or running until they collapse. It's our responsibility as owners to limit activity when it's hot and never put a dog in a situation where it cannot access water or cool itself off.
Signs of dehydration
* Loss of skin turgor (skin remains tented after pulling upward)
* Sunken eyes
* Loss of appetite
* Dry, sticky gums
* Collapse and shock
Certain dogs are more at risk for dehydration. In an article for Healthy Pets Magazine, Dr. Catherine Reid, a Forest Hills, N.Y., veterinarian says that dogs that suffer from such illnesses as kidney disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases tend to have increased water losses through vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Elderly dogs and pregnant or nursing dogs may also be prone to dehydration.
How to prevent dehydration
* Provide clean water at all times, changing it frequently to ensure freshness.
* Monitor your dog's water intake. A dog needs approximately one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day; more if it is hot or if exercising. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount, report this to your vet.
* Water intake is especially important during hot summer months or if dogs are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.
* Use a bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent your dog from knocking it over.
* Carry water with you when you travel with your dog.
* Carry water with you when you exercise with your pet.
* Make sure that outside dogs always have access to fresh water.
As well as providing adequate quantities, it is vital that we monitor the quality of our pets' water. The article "Drink Safe This Summer" by Paul Owens was sent to me by JoAnne Klein and might make you want to reconsider filling your dog's outside water bowl from the garden hose in your yard.
A study done by the Ecology Center, a non-profit environmental organization that reviews products for human use, tested water from a garden hose filled with water and left out in the sun for several days. When tested the water was found to exceed federal standards for safe drinking water for several chemicals including four times the standard considered safe for phthalates, 18 times that for lead and 20 times that for BPA.
FYI: Exposure to phthalates is linked to birth defects of the genitals and altered reproductive hormones in baby boys, suspected increases in breast cancer and improper brain development in fetal rats.
Dogs sensitive to these chemicals and bacteria exhibit vomiting, diarrhea and low energy and need immediate veterinary care.
One last word: Wash (don't just rinse out) your pet's water bowl daily to prevent bacteria from forming on its surface.
Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/ owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@ yahoo.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.