Owners sometimes overlook the importance of fresh, clean water in a dog’s diet. However, good hydration is a cornerstone of canine health. Drinking an appropriate amount of water allows a dog to digest its food properly, maintain appropriate body temperature, produce adequate blood volume and efficiently carry out important metabolic processes. In fact, dehydration is a greater danger for dogs than starvation. A healthy dog can survive losing up to half of the fat and protein in its body, but losing less than a tenth of its body’s water is potentially deadly.
In fact, dehydration is a greater danger for dogs than starvation.
How much water does a dog need each day? In general, the answer depends on the size of the dog, its activity level, its diet and its age. A healthy adult dog needs to drink approximately one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Dogs eating canned diets need to drink somewhat less water than other dogs because of the high water content of canned food. Nursing mothers and dogs doing heavy physical activity need more water than sedentary house pets, and puppies need more water than adults.
…should only offer small amounts of water at a time to dogs that are dehydrated…(too much) cold water at these times can put them at risk for developing water intoxication…
In order to encourage adequate water intake, most veterinarians recommend offering dogs free access to water throughout the day. If this is not possible, owners need to make sure to offer water at least three times over the course of the day. Water should be approximately room temperature and should be in a container that the dog can easily access. Veterinarians do caution, however, that owners should only offer small amounts of water at a time to dogs that are dehydrated, overheated or that have just finished vigorous exercise. Letting dogs gulp lots of cold water at these times can put them at risk for developing water intoxication, a very serious condition.
Dogs need protein in order to maintain body structure and have healthy immune systems. If they do not eat diets with sufficient protein to meet their needs, dogs can develop poor hair coats, decreased energy and increased susceptibility to infections. In addition, breeding animals can exhibit poor reproductive performance and decreased milk production. To keep dogs healthy and avoid problems, owners should choose canine diets that contain balanced, highly digestible proteins.
The best proteins for dogs are both well balanced and highly digestible
Protein needs vary with a dog’s size, age, health, and activity level. Most high quality foods have the right amount of protein for an average, healthy dog. However, some dogs with health problems, such as kidney disease, may need to eat reduced protein diets. Other dogs might require higher protein diets. For example, if a dog is lactating or participating in performance events, it needs much more protein than maintenance foods provide. In fact, high performance sled dogs require twice as much protein as most maintenance diets contain. Puppies also need more protein than normal adult dogs, so they should be fed diets specially formulated for growth. One caveat is that large breed puppies need less protein than other puppies, because they can grow too rapidly on high protein diets. This rapid growth can cause them to develop health problems. Owners concerned that their dogs are getting too much or too little protein should discuss the issue with a veterinarian.
Getting sufficient amounts of protein does not guarantee good health. When it comes to dog nutrition, all proteins are not created equally. The best proteins for dogs are both well balanced and highly digestible. A balanced protein contains essential and non essential amino acids in the proper proportions to meet a dog’s nutritional needs. Digestible proteins are ones that a dog’s body can process and use. Animal proteins such as egg, beef, chicken, fish and other meats are both balanced and digestible for dogs. High quality dog foods typically use one or more these ingredients as their primary protein sources.