You will see it written on all pet food: ‘Ensure a supply of clean, fresh water is available at all times’. We all know that it is a crucial part of their diets, but do we know why?
Water is crucial to digestion; from aiding the absorption of nutrients through to enabling the expulsion of waste. Saliva, which is the first fluid used to break down food, is made predominantly of water and the mucus that lines your pet’s digestive system, protecting it against the gastric acids, also consists mainly of water.
Not just as simple as drinking cold water on a hot day! Water is incredibly good at absorbing and transferring heat. When your dog exercises, the water in their muscle cells heats up which then pass this heat on to the blood cells. In humans, this would be directed to the sweat glands, for the water to evaporate off our skin. With our dogs, this heat is transferred to the major blood vessel near the nose. As they breathe air in through the nose the warm water molecules are collected and this excess heat is then exhaled through the mouth. In fact, whilst panting, their tongue swells to increase the surface area and thereby increase the rate of evaporation and heat release.
Just as with us, your dog has a protective layer of articular cartilage surrounding the ends of the bones where they meet at a joint. Along with the necessary proteins, this cushion of cartilage consists mostly of water and, without sufficient hydration, this layer can wear away leading to osteoarthritis.