Running with your dog – tips for hydration
Water is the single most important nutrient for humans and dogs alike.
When you go running (or exercising) with your dog, you know exactly how long you’re going for – but your dog doesn’t.
Your dog also doesn’t understand that warmer temperatures require more hydration so it’s really important to make sure they drink enough. And if they’re interested in water, then there’s always Slurps.
According to the BVA, in the UK, 1 in 7 dogs affected by heat-related illness died from the condition and new evidence shows that exertional heat-related illness is particularly a problem for younger dogs, active dogs (including Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Boxers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), and particularly male dogs.
1. HOW OFTEN often should my dog drink?
Before, during, and after exercise: whenever you drink water, you should also offer some to your dog. For shorter runs with your dog (5km or less), you might not always take along bottled water, and your dog might be ok waiting until you get home. For longer sessions, always bring a portable dog bowl.
WATCH OUT! Always avoid puddles – particularly in car parks, which harbour toxins and contaminants dogs should not ingest.
2. HOW MUCH should my dog drink?
In cool weather, vets recommend 50-60ml per kg bodyweight per day for an averagely exercised dog.
- Small dogs (10-15kg) need 500-750ml of water daily (1-1.5 bowls)
- Medium dogs (20-30kg) need 1-1.5 litres (2-3 bowls)
- Large dogs (40kg+) need a minimum of 2 litres (4 bowls +)
WATCH OUT! In warmer weather and for more active dogs, vets recommend increasing the above by 50%.
3. HOW DO I GET my dog to drink?
Just like the proverbial horse, you can lead a dog to water but it’s really hard to make them drink if they’re not interested
- Drop a treat in a water bowl and say the word “drink” when your dog goes for it; they’ll soon associate the word with the action.
- Slurps are super tasty, nutritious drinks made from all natural and organic ingredients. They smell amazing to dogs and can stimulate them into drinking when water doesn’t work. They also contain high omega 3 and 6 fish oils so it’s added goodness.
WATCH OUT! Make sure your dog doesn’t drink an entire bowl of water in one go or you might see it all come back up! Moderate their drinking, even if it means taking the water bowl to slow things down.
What are the signs of dehydration in dogs?
Most owners can tell when their dog isn’t 100% but everyone should be aware of early signs of dehydration.
Early symptoms of dehydration are excessive panting, loss of appetite and general lethargy.
ACTION: Get your dog into a cool place, ideally place a cool wet towel over them / stand them in cold water and hydrate them slowly with water or something with more nutrients like Slurps.
Advanced symptoms of dehydration are extremely serious. If you see these, you should take your dog to a vet immediately.
- The pinch test: hold the skin on the back of your dog’s neck and then let go.
Return to normal = properly hydrated.
Stays wrinkled = seriously dehydrated.
- The gum test: run your fingers over your dog’s gums.
Slimy = hydrated. Dry = dehydrated
- The poke test: know what’s normal: when you know your dog is hydrated, press your fingers against their gums until the tissue goes white. Stop pressing and time how long it takes for the gums go pink again.
Next time you’re concerned about your dog’s hydration, do the poke test again. If it takes longer than normal for the gums to go pink, your dog needs a drink.
Remember the basics!
- If the weather is over 22C, it’s likely to be too hot for most dogs.
- If the pavement is too hot to touch, it’s too hot for your dog’s pads.
- Take EXTREME care with large dogs, older dogs, heavy coated dogs and brachycephalic breeds.
- It’s better to go running with your dog in the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler.
- Take frequent hydration breaks and always keep some Slurps on hand for those occasions when your dog needs an extra incentive to drink.