About 60% to 80% of your pet’s body is made up of water. It dissolves substances—like food—and carries nutrients through the body. Almost all of the processes and chemical reactions that keep the body running, including digestion and circulation, rely on water. Water helps the body to filter out waste, and it regulates body temperature through evaporation. Dehydration can cause serious problems, including kidney and heart damage.

Make sure that your pet always has a clean bowl of fresh water. For small animals like pocket pets, a bottle of water works best. If your pet spends time outdoors, be sure to put bowls of water indoors and outside.

Every day, most pets should drink 28 milliliters (one ounce) of water for every pound they weigh. This means that a 40-pound dog needs about one liter (about one quart) of water every day; a 10-pound cat needs about one-fourth of a liter (approximately 1.25 cups). You don’t really need to measure every drop of water you give to your pet. Most healthy animals that have access to clean water will drink what they need.

If you’re worried that your pet isn’t drinking enough water, or if you see signs of dehydration, such as sunken eyes or dry gums, take your pet to the veterinarian. If your pet is dehydrated, your veterinarian can administer intravenous fluids and—just as important—find out what caused the problem.