Pet Hydration

Do you know how much water your pet drinks? On average, your dog should drink a half to one ounce of water per body pound of body weight. In comparison, cats need about 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water for every five pounds of body weight.  If you have kittens and puppies, they may even drink more due to their growing age and higher metabolism. If your pets don't get enough water, they may be at risk of becoming dehydrated!


As the hotter seasons come around, it's even more important for you to monitor your pet's hydration level. Just like humans, your pet's bodily functions require water, and a dehydrated pet can quickly become ill or weak. 


Depending on whether you have a cat or dog, here's what you need to know about your pet's hydration!


Cats, on average, need less water than dogs but it can sometimes be harder to know if your cat is even drinking water since you may not be able to see them when they do! 


Here are some ways you can check to estimate if your cat is staying hydrated!

  1. Change the water bowl every day and track the amount it has decreased. Make sure you fill up the water bowl to the same level each time so it's easy. This is not only great practice to check up on your cat's water intake but it also may hint to you if there's been significant changes. Generally, significant changes that stray from your cat's normal pattern of behavior is something you want to pay attention to and monitor.
  2. If your cat loves their wet food, they may be getting the hydration they need! Wet cat food comprises about 70%-80% of water so an average 5.5 ounce can of wet cat food can already give your cat about 3-4 ounces of water!
  3. Check your cat's litter boxes daily and take note of their urine and defecation! Are they using the litter box less than usual? Peeing and pooping uses water from your cat's body and your cat will need to rehydrate themselves to ensure future healthy bodily functions! 
  4. If your cat has recently vomited or had diarrhea, it's much easier for them to become dehydrated! If this has recently happened to your cat, it's even more important for you to make sure they rehydrated themselves through water or wet food.

HELP! How can I get my cat to drink water?

  1. Have more water bowls placed throughout your home. To pique your cat's curiosity, also try having different shapes and sizes of the water bowls. Try a glass cup, colorful mugs, and so forth and place them in different areas. A curious cat may be attracted and wander to these water bowl alternatives and take a few licks!
  2. Are you using tap water? Maybe experiment with filtered water or bottled water. Just like humans, cats can be picky about the water they like! You can even try adding a little bit of flavor through a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth (that doesn't have onion or garlic!).
  3. Use ice cubes! Cats are curious creatures. Bobbing ice cubes in water may fascinate them enough to take a lick. Don't underestimate the power of a few licks here and there! They will accumulate over the day.
  4. Consider utilizing a water fountain. The sound of flowing water may attract your cat to drink and perhaps even play around with the water! 
  5. Clean the water bowls! Just like how you wouldn't want to drink from a dirty cup, your cat also doesn't want to drink from old water or dirty water bowls. Remember, your cats are sensory creatures, so their sense of smell is much stronger than ours. If the water bowl smells dirty, they will be less inclined to drink from it!


Dogs in general drink about 1 ounce of water per pound of their body weight. Unlike cats, dogs on average, are more eager to drink water when they are thirsty. Because of this, you may not necessarily need to monitor their water intake (unless your vet has asked you to do so!). However, it's still good practice to pay attention to the general amount of water your dog is drinking. Again, just like with cats, any significant changes in water intake, whether they are drinking LESS or MORE water, can be a sign that something may need to be checked!


Here are some ways for you to ensure your dog stays hydrated every day!

  1. Have easy access to water! Make sure you have water bowls in areas that your dog typically plays or rests in. Easy access will encourage your dog to drink water when they are feeling thirsty. If they have to hunt for water, they may decide it's more fun to just keep playing or to just lay down and rest instead of hydrating themselves! 
  2. Leave your dog's water in cool areas. Majority of dogs like their water cool so have your dog's water bowl in a cool and shaded area. Outdoor water bowls should be checked and changed frequently during the warmer and hotter seasons so that your dogs continue to receive cool water throughout the day. You can even throw in some ice cubes for an extra chill!
  3. Have water ready on the go. When taking your dog out on a walk, or going into a play area like a park, make sure to bring a water bowl and water. It's a good idea to scout the area you will be taking your dog and see if there will be readily available water. You don't want to be in a situation where your dog is thirsty and there's no water around! PS: If you take your dog out for a run and they drink water right after, make sure to control just how fast your dog is drinking water! Drinking water too fast may induce your dog to vomit!
  4. Clean your dog's water bowl! You should be washing your pet's water bowl daily with soap and water. Throughout the day, also check if your dog's water bowl had debris or hair floating in it. An unappetizing water bowl does not do well in encouraging your dog to drink from it!
  5. If your dog only eats dry food, you can consider giving them some canned wet food. Canned food is about 65%-80% water so this is another source of hydration for your dog. If your dog is already eating wet food, you may also notice that they may not drink as much water since they're all ready getting a water source from their food!

Whether you have a cat or a dog, it's important to remember that excessive water intake can be just as harmful as not enough water intake. Of course, all dogs and cats are also individual beings. If you have multiple pets, you might worry that one of your pets isn't drinking as much as the other. This doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. The important thing is to understand what is "normal" for your pet, and this will require you to do some investigating! Once you understand how much water your pet typically takes in, you can then understand if your pet is suddenly drinking too little, or too much, water than what is typically normal for them. If you ever have any concerns about your pet's hydration level, don't hesitate to contact your vet!

Beat the Heat

This campaign aims to inform and educate pet owners on ways to keep their pets hydrated and safe during the hot seasons. During the summer seasons, the Central Valley witnesses several heat waves and our dry and hot weather can pose dangerous threats to our animals and their owners. Valley Animal Center is here to provide impactful information and services to pet owners in order for owners to become better informed on ways to keep their pets healthy and safe. If you support what we do, you may donate, follow us on our social media, or sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on how you can support us.

Valley Animal Center

Located in Fresno, CA, Valley Animal Center serves the locale regions of the Central Valley. Upon entering our shelter, cats are tested for Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia. Both dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, microchipped, and administered any additional medical care as needed. Even those once considered un-adoptable due to their medical conditions or disabilities have been rehabilitated and ultimately adopted into loving families. With the mission of uniting every cat and dog with a loving home, we utilize the resources, donations, and support from our community to fulfilling that mission.