How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs and Cats

At the peak of summer, the month of July has been established as National Pet Hydration Month. While keeping water available to indoor and outdoor pets may seem like common sense, the summer heat can increase risks for dehydration. Providing clean, fresh water for your dog or cat is the single best way to prevent dehydration. However, there are some other factors to consider when it comes to hydration and your pets.

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it’s taking in. Water is vital to all living things. It affects every process in the body, from organ function to circulation and digestion. Many articles describe the health benefits of humans maintaining water consumption, and the same goes for our furry friends. At the bottom line, keeping your pet hydrated is important to keeping them healthy.

How to Know if Your Cat or Dog is Dehydrated?

Common Signs of Dehydration in Dogs and Cats:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Panting
  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes
  • Dry nose and gums
  • Loss of skin elasticity

You may be able to detect dehydration at home by gently pinching and lifting the skin over your dog or cat’s shoulder blades. Normally, the skin should quickly return back to its regular position. If the skin stays gathered when you release it, you may have a dehydrated cat on your hands. This is known as “skin tenting” and is a common sign of dehydration. However, this technique does not work as well in cats that are very overweight or very thin.

How to Check Your Pet’s Hydration

What Causes Dehydration in Dogs and Cats?

Dehydration in dogs and cats can be caused by multiple things. When a pet has reduced water intake or increased fluid loss, they are prone to dehydration. This may also cause a loss of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium which have important functions in the body.

  • Overheating in hot weather
  • Heavy work or exercise
  • A lack of clean drinking water
  • Acute illness or period of vomiting or diarrhea
  • An underlying health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease

How is Dehydration Treated in Cats and Dogs?

Since dehydration is typically a symptom of a larger problem, your veterinarian will need to examine your dog or cat to identify and treat any underlying condition. Severe cases of dehydration require emergency veterinary attention. Without intervention, severe dehydration can lead to organ failure and death.

Prevention: How to Keep Your Pet Hydrated

The best way to keep your pet hydrated is to make fresh water available at all times and replace their water daily to encourage them to drink. Some pets, particularly cats, are finicky drinkers, prefer certain bowls, and even prefer to drink in certain locations. Some dogs and cats prefer to drink moving water from a pet water fountain bowl or a dripping kitchen faucet.

  • Keep their water bowls clean and wash them regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Use a portable or collapsible bowl if you are traveling or on the go.
  • Experiment with different water bowls, and consider trying a pet water fountain.
  • Make sure you offer enough water sources if you have a multi-pet household
  • Try offering wet food in your dog or cat’s diet can help provide a source of hydration.
  • Ask your veterinarian about a hydration supplement or electrolyte fluid.

Keep a good eye on your dog or cat’s drinking habits. If your pet has any sudden changes, including a decrease or increase in drinking water, you should contact your veterinarian. Speak with your veterinarian about a liquid hydration supplement to help boost your pet’s fluid intake or incorporate wet food into their diet.

Hydration and Electrolyte Supplements for Dogs and Cats

VetRxDirect carries a variety of hydration supplements, and we’ve highlighted some of them below!

Oralade at VetRxDirectOralade

  • Oralade is a ready-to-use, liquid formula for cats and dogs that includes balanced electrolytes, nutrients, amino acids, and glucose in purified water.
  • Oralade supports dogs and cats with critical nutritional and hydration needs.


Purina Hydra Care at VetRxDirectPurina Hydra Care

  • Purina Hydra Care is a nutrient-enriched water supplement that promotes healthy hydration in cats.
  • It contains nutritional osmolytes to help cells absorb water and combat dehydration.
  • Encourages cats to consume more liquid than with just water alone. Learn more


Hydrade at VetRxDirectThomas Pet Hydrade 

  • HydrADE is an electrolyte replacement supplement for dogs and cats that helps support normal hydration and encourages water consumption.
  • Helps maintain positive fluid levels during episodes of dehydration in dogs and cats. 


Pet-A-Lyte at VetRxDirectPet-A-Lyte

  • Pet-A-Lyte is a liquid electrolyte solution for dogs and cats.
  • Helps provide nutrients, electrolytes, and oral hydration.
  • Aids in recovery from illness or surgery.
  • Helps with mild fluid loss and dehydration.
  • Tasty chicken flavor.


This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease and is purely educational. Please seek advice from your pet’s veterinarian with any questions regarding the health of your pet. 

How to Prevent Dog Dehydration

The Hydration Station

Great summer pet care entails keeping your pet well hydrated at all times, especially during the heat of the day. There are many articles describing the health benefits of humans increasing their water consumption and the same goes for our furry friends. Keeping your pet hydrated can keep them healthy and less likely to experience heat strokes. Here’s a list of the top 5 ways to prevent dog dehydration:

  1. Good quality water is most important. A rule of thumb I like to tell pet parents is if you wouldn’t drink the water, then don’t expect your pet to. This is not to say we need to give them expensive, bottled water; rather we should ensure their water is up to our standards. Some well water, city water, and rural water can still be of good quality and great options for our pets.
  2. Fresh water is needed at all times. Giving your pet good quality water can turn to an effort-wasted if it isn’t replenished daily. Refreshing their water daily encourages them to drink it.
  3. Make it available at all times. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it can be a forgotten one. Pets that are able to go inside and outside will need two sources of fresh water that are refreshed daily. Sometimes, we can forget to refresh one or the other. Depending on your schedule, some dogs may need water while they are in their crate. It would be a great topic to discuss with your pet’s veterinarian and there are several devices designed for making water available to crated pets.
  4. Freeze the bowls on extra hot days. To help prevent dehydration and heat stroke in your pets, it may be a good idea to freeze the water bowls for a couple of hours before filling them. This will ensure a cool source of water for your pet to drink and it can cool their body temperature.
  5. Keep a good eye on their drinking habits. Most pet parents have a good idea of how much and how often your pet drinks. If your pet has any sudden changes (including a decrease or increase) in drinking water, you should contact the veterinarian. They may need a checkup to make sure they aren’t sick.

Since dogs are at a higher risk of dehydration, it’s important to know how to evaluate their hydration status. Below is a video of a veterinarian demonstrating how to evaluate a dog’s hydration:

What secrets and techniques do you have to keep your pet hydrated? Please leave us tips in the comments section below. Thank you.