Dr. Anna Dunton-Gallagher
OFF THE LEASH
Q: When it gets hot, my dog doesn’t drink any more water and his urine gets very dark. He is a picky eater, so I don’t know how to add water without making him stop eating. What are tips for making him drink more?
Picky eaters are some of the tough customers for this issue! My best advice is to see if there is a canned food that he likes and gradually add water until it gets to a consistency that he doesn’t like. If he eats his kibble all at once, but just prefers specific kinds, that is a little easier. Usually you can add water to this with a little flavor. A splash of low-sodium broth, clam juice or canned fish juice can make this added water seem like a treat.
For dogs that only pick away at their kibble, making a soupy canned food is usually best. Sometimes you can also have a “flavored” water bowl out. Add a small amount of the broth or clam juice to a bowl of water. Always make sure a regular, unflavored bowl is out too. See if your dog is more eager to drink the flavored water.
See if there are any fruit or vegetable treats that have a high water content that he likes. I have found dogs to be pretty varied in what they like, but watermelon, apples, celery (yes, some dogs love celery!) and pears are just some options of treats that have extra hydration. Some dogs also like colder water. Try changing out the bowl with fresh cold water twice a day or adding ice cubes. Some dogs prefer different water, like toilet, sprinkler or hose water. Keep in mind that two of those are more sanitary than the third! Play around with all of these options until you feel like he is drinking enough and his urine is normal colored. Also, check in with your veterinarian on the expected daily water intake for your dog. It may also be a good idea to look at his urine and make sure that the dark color isn’t an indicator for something else.
Q: We tried a life vest on my dog for boating, but she will lay down and not move whenever we put it on. What should I do?
This is actually something that pets do when they have something unfamiliar on. It happens with cats and harnesses, all types of pets and E collars and some bandages. We jokingly call it “E collar/bandage/harness paralysis.” The first important step is to make sure there are no parts of the life jacket pinching or rubbing in ways that make it uncomfortable. The next step is just getting her used to it.
If she isn’t used to wearing anything, start with something easy like a T-shirt or harness. These aren’t as tight as life jackets. You can also try loosening the life jacket so it doesn’t squeeze on her at all. Encourage her to walk a couple steps and give her a treat. Once she figures out it isn’t going to hurt her it should get easier. If none of this works, try a different life jacket! Some pets hate certain clothing. No matter what fashion or my friends say, I cannot stand the feel of skinny jeans; some fits don’t make some pets happy either.
Q: My dog is a fly magnet, and spends much of our walks trying to shake off and bite the bugs on him. How can I make him more comfortable?
Just like some people are more attractive to bugs, some dogs are too. There are tick-prevention products that also help repel bugs, so one of these might be a great choice through bug season. There are also several veterinary-specific bug repellents. These are often marketed as tick repellents, but usually work for flies and mosquitos too. Usually these are made with a mix of essential oils. It is important that you don’t put essential oils directly on your pet, but use them diluted appropriately. Also do NOT use human bug repellents on pets. These are not made for ingesting, and our pets are much more likely to lick it off their coats than humans (I hope).
Some of these dogs prefer to walk in the early morning before the heat of the day brings out bugs. If your dog enjoys swimming, that may be another good activity to help burn off some energy where the bugs can’t swarm as effectively.