Poor hydration can cause a multitude of health problems for your dog, including the most frequent reason dogs need an expensive vet visit….but a lot of greyhounds are poor drinkers.
If your greyhound won’t drink enough water, the key to getting him to drink more is knowing when he wants it and how he likes it, and then following through, every single day. You can increase your greyhound’s water intake by keeping his bowl clean, adding ice in warm weather, and by regularly adding water to his food.
In following the standard advice to always leave water out for your dog, it’s easy to forget to change that water or keep the bowl clean, especially if your greyhound is a poor drinker; so his bowl always looks freshly filled, when it’s really just barely touched.
Let’s look at what happens when your greyhound doesn’t drink enough water; and three ways to get your greyhound to drink more, including how to get an extra pint of water into him every day.
What Happens When Dogs Don’t Drink Water
If you allow your dog to become dehydrated, especially on a regular basis, it places great stress on every organ of his body. You may be surprised to learn that the largest organ of a mammal’s body is his skin! This is where the effects of dehydration become apparent first, with the coat becoming dry and the skin losing elasticity. In fact, the professional test to check for dehydration in a greyhound is known as the “slow skin pinch test.” It is an accurate way to determine your greyhound’s dehydration level.
How to Perform the Slow Skin Pinch Test for Dehydration
Pinch up the skin on your greyhound’s back for a few seconds, then release it. This guide by John Kohnke BVSc RDA will help you interpret the result, and reveal how dehydrated your greyhound is:
“Mild (2% fluid loss and slow skin pinch return of 1-1 1⁄2 seconds,
Moderate (4% loss and dry skin and 2-2 1⁄2 second skin pinch return)
Severe (5-7% loss and dry skin and mouth membranes, sunken eyes, tucked up belly and skin pinch return of greater than 3 seconds).”
Add Water to Your Greyhound’s Food
Add 1 cup of water to your greyhound’s food twice a day. It might look sloppy and gross; but, believe me, your greyhound will not mind. If he does mind at first, and balks at eating it, do not give up. He will be back at the next mealtime. Or you can put it away, and try again in an hour. If you do so, be sure to loosen the food up with a spoon, so he can get at it more easily.
In cold weather, zap the water in the microwave for 20 seconds.
When you serve the food, tip the bowl a little. Some greyhounds will be put off by a layer of food that’s stuck fast to the bottom of the bowl, and decide that it’s just not worth the effort…. not that they’re lazy or anything!
Keep Your Greyhound’s Water Bowl Clean and Sanitary
Bowl hygiene is HUGE! According to the Sanitization Foundation, your dog’s bowls rank fourth for the germiest surface in your home.
Never use plastic bowls. Over time, they develop scratches, which harbor bacteria. This bacteria is very hard to clean out completely, and can make your dog sick.
This includes bacteria you can’t see, as well as those that you can; such as biofilm, the clear slime you might feel in your dog’s water bowl. Biofilm contains a crazy amount of nasty germs, which are suspected in a lot of illness in people, as well as pets. It can also release toxins into the air, which can make the whole family sick. At the very least, biofilm has a rotten smell. You might not catch it, but your dog can, and it can make him pretty uninterested in drinking from that bowl.
Then there’s the gross pink stuff- Serratia Marcescens (sehRAYshuh MARsehsenz) which can cause infection, as well as pneumonia. Your dog’s bowl can also breed mold, yeast, Salmonella, and E. coli – which, as you now know, is the most common culprit in UTIs.
How to Sanitize Your Greyhound’s Bowls
- Change your greyhound’s water frequently, at least every couple of hours.
- Be sure the bowl is clean.
- Every time you change your dog’s water, be sure to give the bowl a good rinse. If your sink has a good sprayer, that can be a useful tool in breaking up any forming, microscopic bacteria.
- Every night, wash all dog bowls thoroughly. My first choice for this is to put it through the dishwasher, using the sanitize setting.
- No dishwasher? Then wash the bowls using hot, soapy water. Rinse very thoroughly, and dry well.
I’ve heard that some dogs dislike drinking water, because they can taste the soap that was used to clean the bowl. If you think this may be the case for your dog, there are a few things you might try:
- Avoid applying soap directly to the bowl or the sponge. A little soap really does go a long way. Try a small amount of soap diluted in water.
- You can try using a scent-free dish soap.
- Oh, and that sponge? According to the Sanitation Foundation, that is the #1 germiest place in your home. It’s a good idea to have a separate sponge that is just for your dog’s bowls. You can keep the sponge separate by labeling it with a Sharpie. Personally, I avoid this entire problem, by crocheting cute, little dishcloths to clean my kitchen. It dries between uses, l throw it into the laundry at the end of the day, and start fresh with a clean one in the morning.
Another thing you’ll need to do is go around your yard and empty any sources of standing water. Dogs love to drink out of these, and the water really is filthy. Besides, they’re mosquito breeeders, and you don’t want that! It’s important to remember to do this after every rain! If you water your lawn or use sprinklers, always check after your watering is done, for standing water water which may have collected. It can sneak into all kinds of places.
“There are many waterborne diseases dogs acquire from standing water and the two most common … are Giardia and Lepto,” according to Dr. Marc Smith of Natchez Trace Veterinary Services. This advice, alone, could save the life of your dog.
…oh, and you want to keep the lid closed on the porcelain font (AKA the toilet).
Ice Keeps Your Dog’s Water Clean and Fresh
In warm weather, your dog will need even more water. A good way to make sure he gets it is to give him some ice in a container that makes it easy for him to get at it.
Ice is also good for keeping your dog’s water fresh and clean on hot days.
Here’s how you can make your dog a little electrolyte ice-treat. Please don’t give your dog human electrolyte drinks, like Gatorade. According to an article from cuteness.com:
“Electrolyte recipes for dogs contain higher sugar-to-sodium ratios than electrolyte solutions for people, as dogs do not lose sodium as quickly.”
Country vet Kaetheryn Walker recommends a solution of:
• 1 quart of water
• 1 tablespoon of sugar
• 1 teaspoon of salt
… But since studies show that dogs will consume three times as much water if it is chicken flavored, we can modify this, and replace the teaspoon of salt with a teaspoon of chicken broth powder. Pour into ice cube trays, or any cute silicone molds you happen to have, freeze, and bag up for your pet to enjoy on hot summer days. By the way, 1/3 of this recipe fills one ice cube tray.
You can get creative, and flavor your ice “pups” so many different ways. With the greyhound’s heightened sense of taste and smell, you wouldn’t need to add much. A little yogurt would be enjoyable. Another good choice would be fruit juice, as long as it’s not grape, as grapes in any form are toxic to greyhounds.
By the way, this article is an expanded version of the “Hydration” section of my complete guide to preventing UTI’s in greyhounds and other dogs. Here is my video about keeping your greyhound UTI-free for life through good hydration:
The full article is a must-read for all dog owners, and features my 7-part video seminar on dog UTI prevention. It could even save your dog’s life!
Resources for More Information
NSF (National Sanitation Foundation): https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/clean-germiest-home-items
Natchez Trace Veterinary Services: https://franklintnvet.com/waterborne-diseases/
John Kohnke BVSc RDA: http://www.mcphail.ca/Greyhound_Archives/Library/Medical/Common_Injuries_Greyhounds.pdf