Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Hydration Hints for Hot Weather


It's Hot! Check Out These Hydration Hints for Your Herding Dog

With hot weather here, it is very important to stay on top of your herding dog’s hydration status. Dogs can only deal with hot weather by sweating via their paw pads and panting. Herding dogs tend to be active no matter what the weather and can easily overheat and dehydrate. PetSafe has called July “Pet Hydration Month”.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

Panting is especially important for hot canines and that is evaporative cooling. For panting to work, your dog must be well-hydrated and able to generate moisture in his mouth that takes some heat when it evaporates. Sounds complicated? Just remember your dog needs to drink!

How Much Water Does My Dog Need?

Your herding dog will need ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of bodyweight daily - that is a general guideline. Older dogs with chronic health problems, like kidney or liver disease, will need more water. So will a dog of any age who has vomiting and/or diarrhea. Both of those conditions can dehydrate a dog easily, especially in hot, humid weather. Puppies are prone to dehydration, also.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Dehydrated?

To evaluate your dog’s hydration, you can check a couple of things. You can lift the skin on the back of the neck and observe if it snaps back down into place quickly. This can be tricky to evaluate in long coated herding breeds. An easy way is to look at your dog’s gums. They should be moist with slick fluid. Dry gums or thick, sticky fluid indicates dehydration. A really dehydrated dog will have sunken eyes and will be lethargic.

How Do I Keep My Dog Hydrated?

So how can you keep your active herding dog well-hydrated in the hot months?

An easy way to start is to look at diet. A moist food such as canned or raw will have more liquid. Or, you can add water to a kibble diet and create a “gravy” that your dog will enjoy. Don’t count on that as enough fluid intake for these busy dogs, however.

Make sure there is plenty of water available and that it is fresh and cool. That means cleaning your water bowls daily and replacing the water as often as possible. Provide water for your dog – don’t count on stale pond water. You want water that is parasite-free and cool.

Many dogs like some ice cubes floating in their bowls in hot weather. You can add some low sodium bouillon or bone broth to add flavor. A popular choice is the liquid from tuna canned in water – add a teaspoon to a bowl of water for an enticing smell and flavor.

Some dogs prefer water that is “fun”, and for a herding dog that means moving water, so a fountain, dripping faucet, or playing with a hose or sprinkler might be ways to get some extra water down. Many dogs like to play in a kiddie pool that has fresh, cool water. They will slash and paw at the water. A few even blow bubbles! After hard work like herding, many dogs get into a kiddie pool or stock tank to help cool off.

Along with providing plenty of water options, think smart when it comes to summer activities. Make sure your dog has shade. If possible, work and train early in the morning or in the evening after things cool down. Spray fresh water in his mouth periodically if he is not into drinking during work. After work or training, offer your dog small amounts of water as part of his “cool down”.

Provide fans – a fan blowing over a bowl of ice is almost a mini air conditioner. If you have AC, your dog will naturally seek it out and lie on a cool tile floor, if given the option.

Can a dog drink too much water? You bet! Watch for Water Toxicity, coming up soon!

Article By:
Deb M. Eldredge, DVM
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