Water and Pets

by wfnblog on February 1, 2007

Anyone who has ever lived with a companion animal knows that the unconditional love and acceptance we receive from them is very different compared to our human relationships. This is especially important to us when we lose our human friendships through aging or isolation because of disease. Animals can bring a unique sense of continuity, stability, and love to our lives. In fact, studies indicate that companion animals have a positive influence on the quality of life for the aging and ill. Because they are like family to those that really love them, pets should be treated as such. With that in mind, they need to always be provided clean fresh drinking water.

Importance of Safe Drinking Water for Cats
Some cats simply avoid drinking tap water. This may be a natural reaction to potentially harmful chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants. Many prefer to drink from a dripping faucet or cat water dispenser, possibly because there is a less aversive smell than in standing water in a bowl.

Since cats drink little water at the best of times, they should always be given safe drinking water. This is important since poor quality, contaminated water will only make it worse for their already compromised condition of inadequate hydration.

Older animals, like older people, at risk from chronic heart and kidney disease, should not be given water that has been treated with salt (sodium chloride) to soften it. Hard water for domestic use is often treated with salt to soften it, and especially in apartments and condominiums treatment of the central water supply to both cold and hot water faucets is not separated, which means that soft/salt-contaminated water comes out of both faucets. Older animals with chronic kidney disease, diabetes insipidus and other health problems, and those on certain medications like prednisone, will drink plentiful quantities of water, and thus be more at risk from absorbing more than normal quantities of water-born chemical contaminants.

Importance of Safe Drinking Water for Dogs
Dogs, when outdoors, often want to drink from puddles and ponds. This is dangerous because standing water can be heavily contaminated with the chemical cocktail of road-run-off, as well as various pathogens: giardia, cryptosporidia, botulism-toxin bacteria, harmful fungus that can cause fatal pythiosis or “swamp cancer”. Fecal bacteria from human and farm animal wastes can cause periodic epidemics of flu-like food poisoning in the human population. Lawn, garden and golf-course pesticides and other harmful chemical run-off, most especially from agriculture is the main cause for this. This is why it is necessary to control the water that dogs get. When they get safe drinking water, these problems can be significantly reduced.

Taking Action
With water being a crucial part of a pet’s health, it is no wonder that many pet supply manufacturers offer water fountains, water filters, special bowls, special dispensers and more. They realize that pet owners want the best for their pets and so they try to accommodate them. Many of these seem to go over well with pet lovers but when it comes down to it, a normal stainless steel or glass bowl filled with water from a home-filtration system works well.


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