As important as it is to keep dogs hydrated during the summer months -when the heat causes them to pant pitiably most of the day -it’s equally importantto give them an ample supply of fresh, clean water when the temperature outsidedips to freezing and below. In fact, it may be even more vital to keep dogs hydrated in the cold winter months.
“Humidity is lower during the winter,”explains Dr. Louise Murray of the ASPCA, “and this can contribute to dehydration.” Add to that thearid atmosphere of a well-heated home or apartment, and you can see how easy it is for Spot todry up- especially when he comes indoors immediately after vigorous exercise.
“Dogs dehydrate more quickly when panting,” reminds Dr. Murray. “It is essential that pets have access to fresh water during cold weather.”Staying hydrated is important for the body – any body, yours as well as your dog’s – to produce adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
“ATP is a molecule that provides the energy needed for all the cells in the body,” Dr. Murray explains. “There are several ways that the body makes ATP, and some are more efficient than others. When an animal or person is severely dehydrated and blood flow delivering oxygen to cells is inadequate, ATP is made at a much slower rate, not very efficiently.”
Cold weather takes a lot out of a body, which is why you may notice Spot snoozing extra-soundly after an aerobic outdoor romp. It simply takes more energy, and more ATP, for the body to stay warm when the temperature outside drops. And proper hydration is key to having enough energy to make it through the winter without getting sick.
“It is important in cold weather for animals to be well hydrated, and to have good energy stores from adequate feeding to keep themselves warm, and maintain all the cells in the body functioning at peak levels,”says Dr. Murray. What you don’t want is anything that lowers your dog’s body temperature in winter.
So, please be sure that Spot’s water bowl is nice and big, and kept full at all times. Hold the ice cubes – the water your dog drinks doesn’t have to be frosty. Room temperature is just fine. In fact, Dr. Murray cautions, “It may be best not to give your dog ice-cold water, since this could also contribute to lowering body temperature.” Super cold water also constricts the blood vessels in the gut, for people as well as dogs, making digestion more difficult, which in turn prevents the body from getting the maximum energy froma square meal.
Now, about the type of water Spot wets his whistle with: To filter, or not to filter? Is it OK to give dogs straight tap water?
“There’s no evidence that it is necessary to filter water that has been deemed safe for the public to drink before offering it to dogs,” Dr. Murray says. “But some owners may prefer to filter the water they drink or give to their pets.”
Yes, they may. If you filter your own water with, say,a Brita system (like the one pictured at right) oran Aquasana faucet-mounted model, it’s nice to share your purified water with your pets. It’s been said that fluoride indrinking water wears away the enamel onhuman and canineteeth, so why risk it? I vote for purifying pets’ water of fluoride and other dubious ingredients.
What about offering dogs water in raised water bowls, for their drinking convenience? My dogs seem to appreciate their handsome, stainless-steel Ultra waterbowl by WetNoz(pictured at top) and I appreciate the fact that, since setting it up in my kitchen, I rarely have to clean up a water-bowl spill. Is there any health benefit to raising a dog’s water bowl, or is it just athoughtful thing to do?
“Many large dogs find it more comfortable to drink from a bowl that is elevated,” Dr. Murray allows, “but it is not essential.”
Ah, but we are Dogsters, so we often go above and beyond the mere essential when caring for our best friends – do we not? Please leave a comment telling us just how your dogs like their waterserved.