If you suspect your cat is dehydrated, take him to the vet right away. In severe cases of dehydration in cats, just encouraging your cat to drink water might not be enough. In addition, your vet can help determine if there's an underlying condition causing the dehydration and whether you can do cat dehydration home treatment, or if your cat needs to be hospitalized.
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What causes dehydration in cats
Just like humans, cats can become dehydrated for many reasons. One cause of dehydration in cats is an illness, such as kidney disease, diabetes. Vomiting or diarrhea also leads to fluid loss and might cause your cat to become dehydrated.
Diet can also be a cause of dehydration in cats. Felines who eat only dry food are more likely to become dehydrated than cats fed a canned food diet, as canned food can contain up to 80 percent water. Some cats may not be as open to eating things other than kibble, but according to Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, adding moisture to your cat's dry food, like a topper or some pumpkin, can also help them stay hydrated.
Signs of dehydration in cats
A dehydrated cat might show loss of appetite and signs of depression and lethargy. The vet will look your cat over to see if they have signs of dehydration. Cats often pant and have an elevated heart rate. Dehydration causes a loss of elasticity on the skin, and many cats will have sunken eyes. You also might notice that your cat's mucous membranes — nose, mouth, eyelids — are dry.
Best cat food for dehydration
Once your vet has determined what caused the dehydration, you might be able to help treat and prevent the reoccurrence of the problem at home, by switching to a canned food diet, syringing water directly into your cat's mouth, or providing fluid therapy through a home IV. Unflavored Pedialyte can also be given to help boost your cat's electrolytes.
Some cats might be more inclined to lick an ice cube than to drink water from a bowl, while others might prefer bottled water over tap water. Always provide options and leave several bowls of water around the house for easy and constant access throughout the day. A cat fountain can also entice your feline to hydrate more. Pet fountains are also available at multiple price points.
The best cat food for dehydration is wet, canned meals. They deliver moisture for your cat, since cats aren't big drinkers. If your cat is set on their kibble, adding a couple tablespoons of water can provide moisture as well. Giving your cats wet food regularly can help prevent reoccurrences of dehydration in the future.
Dangers of cat dehydration
If your cat appears dehydrated, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If it's the weekend or after-hours, find an emergency animal hospital.
When dehydration is due to vomiting or acute diarrhea, the veterinarian might need to administer subcutaneous fluids to help restore the correct levels of electrolytes. Leaving dehydration untreated can lead to further problems, including kidney conditions or failure.
- Rural Area Vet: Physical Examination of Dogs and Cats
- VCA Hospitals: Vomiting in Cats
- Cornell University Feline Health Center: Feline Diabetes
- Cummings Veterinary Medical Center: Tips and Tricks to Get Your Cat to Drink More Water
- Emergency Vets US: Helping People Find Qualified Emergency Vets In Their Area