How to increase water intake in pets

Increasing water intake is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk for stone  recurrence in humans  and likely for dogs and cats. The greater water intake results in greater urine volumes, which dilutes out (reduces) the concentrations of stone forming substances, making these minerals less likely to bind together to form crystals which combine and grow into stones.

How to increase water intake:

  • Keep water bowls filled.  Provide fresh water frequently for pets that like fresh cool water.  For pets that like tepid water, refill water bowls less frequently (e.g. once a day).
  • Fed a canned diet primarily or exclusively. Canned food has a very high water content (70 to 80% water compared to 9 to 12% water in dry food).
  • If your pet does not enjoy canned food, try soaking dry food to the point where it floats, using one cup of water per cup of dry food. If needed, additional water can also be mixed into canned foods.
  • Some pets enjoy water fountains.
  • There isn't enough data right now to say if water type affects stone risk in dogs and cats (see "Does water type matter?"). We recommend offering whatever water type your pet seems to enjoy the most, as the quantity that they drink is likely more important than the water type.
  • Providing flavored water (mix in 1 teaspoon of meat or vegetable broth, or their favorite canned food per cup of water) while having regular water available, provides choice and an added opportunity to consume more water.
  • Administering medical grade fluids subcutaneously is usually reserved for ill patients who are dehydrated.  Stone formers are usually adequately hydrated and are best served by administering additional water orally.
  • Hydra Care™ has been shown to increase water intake in cats.  Its effect on stone formation is unknown.
How to monitor water intake:

  • You can purchase water bowls with markers that show the volume. This can help you track how much your pet is drinking each day, though it is more difficult in a multi-pet household.
  • Monitor water intake by checking the urine specific gravity (USG), the water content of urine. This is a measurement performed on small urine samples using a refractometer. Pet refractometers can be purchased online to measure the USG at home.  In dogs, use a dedicated soup ladle to collect urine.  In cats, use hydroscopic sand or plastic beads to collect urine.  Measure USG shortly after urination to minimize the effects of sample evaporation.  The target USG for dogs is <1.020 and for cats is <1.030.  With higher USG values, give more water. 
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