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Hydration

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No matter the season, water is crucial to your dog’s health, but in the dog days of summer, which just so happens to be the height of our dock diving season, it’s even more important.  A dog’s body weight is almost 70% water, so losing just 5-10% of body water means your dog could suffer from severe dehydration.  Monitoring your dog’s water intake can improve their health, prevent illness or injury, and insure proper hydration. While some dogs naturally do this on their own, some either under-drink or over-drink. Too little water can lead to dehydration in dogs, kidney stones, organ failure, and even death. Drinking too much water can lead to stomach bloat, electrolyte imbalances, and water toxicity.

****PLEASE NOTE:  If your dog is under-drinking or over-drinking, it could be a sign of an underlying illness. Under-drinking can indicate Parvo, Leptospirosis, or Pancreatitis. Over-drinking can signify a bladder infection, or diabetes. Be sure to have your vet check your dog if he/she is doing either.

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GSPs are susceptible to bloat, so we have to be sure we keep an eye on our dogs’ water intake, making sure they don’t over-drink right before, during, or immediately after running.  During intense activity, we use a stainless steel water bottle with a roller-ball flow top (acts just like a hamster/rabbit style water dispenser), similar to the one pictured below to ensure our dogs are not gulping large amounts of water.  This type of water dispenser allows us to control their drinking during times when they would normally gulp, or drink too much.  We always provide them with access to water throughout the entire day.

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On average, Pets Web MD recommends that dogs should drink about an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.  If you are exercising your dog, you need to take extra steps to keep him/her hydrated. During exercise, give your dog small amounts of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Once activity has ended, don’t put a water bowl down in front of your dog right away. Wait until your dog is calm and has stopped panting before you let them drink. An overly eager dog can swallow large amounts of water and air, which could lead to vomiting, discomfort, bloat, or torsion.

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Another great tip we learned from our agility instructor, Kathy Parkin, at Pinelands Dog Training Center, is to offer our dogs small amounts of watermelon on extremely hot days, while at competition events, or during strenuous activity. This is especially helpful if your dog (like our Limoncello) doesn’t want to drink while “working” or competing.  The dogs think of watermelon more as a treat… and what a great treat it is! Watermelon is loaded with minerals, low on calories, and is great for hydration.  For an added bonus, you can enjoy the watermelon along with your dog for some of the same benefits!

Benefits of Watermelon:

  • Contains beta-carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C
    • Great for dogs and their immune system
  • High water concentration – great for hydration
    • 91% water by weight
  • ***THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
    • Dogs don’t digest fruit as well as we do. Practice moderation when feeding it to your dog, especially if you notice a change when they empty their bowels. If your dog has never had watermelon, start out by giving them only a small piece or two, until you know how they will handle it. 
    • Do not feed your dog any part of the rind
    • Remove all seeds before feeding to your dog, or purchase seedless watermelon

Happy Hydrating!

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