I’ve written many articles about pet food, but there’s something equally important that’s rarely discussed: water.
It’s often been said that it’s more important to drink than to eat: animals may survive for two or weeks without food, but only three or four days with no water.
We tend to take it for granted that animals will manage to drink enough by us just leaving down a water bowl for them. But when you stop to think about it, we can do much better than that, in a number of ways.
First, it’s worth focussing more on ensuring that their water is always fresh. Just as we would not like to drink water that had been stagnant in an open container for three or four days, neither is this appealing to pets. It’s worth making cleaning the water bowl a part of your daily routine, so that your pet is guaranteed to have fresh water in a grime-free bowl every morning. Tap water is fine: pets don’t need bottled water, although if the water has a strong chlorine-type odour, you may wish to boil the water and let it cool before adding it to your pet’s bowl. This may be one of the reasons why many pets seem to prefer drinking in outdoor puddles compared to indoor water bowls.
Second, it’s a good idea to measure how much your pet drinks in every twenty four hour period. This is easily done when combined with the daily cleaning of the water bowl. The idea is that you measure how much water you pour into the clean water bowl on day one. Then on day two, you pour the remaining water into a measuring jug. It’s simple to calculate how much your pet has drunk: the amount you added on day one minus the amount left on day two. Ideally, you should keep a track of this: write it down in a notebook. Excessive water drinking is one of the key early signs of a number of illnesses, including diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. It’s well known that the maximum amount of water that a healthy pet should drink is around 100ml per kilogram body weight per day. If they drink more than this, it suggests that there may be some underlying illness causing them to be more thirsty.
The simple way to work out this information is to get your pet weighed in kilograms (vet clinics have walk on electronic scales, and they will happily weigh your pet for free). Then multiply this weight by 100: that is the maximum amount of millilitres that your pet should be drinking. If they are drinking more than this, you should take them to the vet for a thorough check up.
Even if they are not drinking excessively, it’s useful to know how much they are drinking so that you can spot any sudden changes. If your cat normally drinks only 100ml per day, then they suddenly start drinking 200ml per day, this is a warning that something slightly odd is going on. This could be early kidney disease or diabetes, or it could just be warm weather. It’s worth recording the information because if the thirst does not return to normal, the extra information about water consumption will be very useful to show your vet in due course.
If you have more than one pet, it can be difficult to work out the amounts that each individual animal is drinking, and that’s where technology can be helpful.
I have a special water dispenser in my kitchen: it’s like a small office water cooler. An upended water container drip feeds a shallow drinking area at its base. It’s a “connected” device, linking to my smartphone, and giving me all sorts of information that I could never have gathered previously.
First, it has a built-in microchip scanner, and so the device “knows” which of my four pets is drinking water at any time. My two dogs, Finzi and Kiko, and my two cats, Peig and Couscous, each have their own section on the phone app, allowing me to check on any one of them at any time, to look at their drinking habits.
Second, it has the ability to measure precisely how much water each pet is drinking, and how often they take sips of water. This information is fed straight onto my phone.
I no longer need to measure how much water is used up each day: the app on my phone tells me exactly how much each animal drinks. As well as this, a record is kept of their past drinking habits, and I get sent a notification if a pet is suddenly drinking significantly more than they have done before.
Third, the device lets me know if the water level in the dispenser is running low, sending me a message that I need to top it up.
Fourth, if I have not changed the water for a couple of days, even if there is still plenty of water in the device, I am sent a reminder that it would be best to change the water to ensure that my pets have continual fresh water rather than water that has been sitting in the device for a while.
Finally, I’m sent a reminder if the battery level of the water dispenser is running low, so that the system should never fail from lack of power.
Wearable technology is working well as a way of helping us monitor human health; this type of connected water bowl is the animal equivalent. Watch out for more of these types of devices in the future.
To find out more about Pete’s smart pet water dispenser, see https://www.surepetcare.com/en-ie/felaqua-connect