Water is an essential component of any living organism’s survival. Without water, mammals and other living creatures cease to function. This also holds true for your pet dog. Just like you, your dog needs to receive an adequate amount of water to prevent it from becoming dehydrated. When your dog is properly hydrated, they can maintain bodily functions and live a healthy life.
Often times though, pet owners only worry about dehydration in the summer months. Of course, it is hot, and your dog can potentially lose a lot of fluid during this time.
However, summer is not the only season where your dog can be at risk for dehydration. In fact, dehydration in dogs can occur at any time of the year.
Dehydration is a common and potentially harmful condition if your dog is routinely left without enough water.
All pet owners want to keep their dogs healthy and happy. By knowing the signs of dehydration in your dog, you can keep your pets happy and energetic.
Keep reading this article to learn more about the symptoms and causes of dehydration in your dog.
What Are The Symptoms of Dog Dehydration? (How To Tell Your Dog Is Dehydrated?)
Dehydration in dogs comes in many forms. How these symptoms manifest depends on your pet and the level of dehydration they face.
However, it isn’t always easy to know when your dog is dehydrated. Unlike humans, dogs can’t verbalize when they are thirsty.
But if you know what to look for, you can quickly get your dog rehydrated and prevent serious health complications.
1. Skin Elasticity Test
Veterinarians recommend checking the elasticity of your pet’s skin first. This is one of the simplest ways to know if your pet is dehydrated.
Simply take the skin near your dog’s shoulder blades and lift it up gently. Let it go and see how long it takes for the skin to fall back.
If the skin quickly returns to its original positions, it is a good indication that your dog is adequately hydrated. However, if it takes a long time for the skin to go back in place, there is a good chance your dog is dehydrated.
As a baseline, it is a good idea first to do this test when your dog is healthy and active. This way you know what healthy elastic skin looks like for your dog.
Some pets don’t have very elastic skin, to begin with, so keep this in mind. Furthermore, if you are still unsure about the elasticity of your dog’s skin, you can always try another method as described below to determine if your dog is dehydrated.
2. Check Your Dog’s Gums
Your dog’s gums are another area that is affected by dehydration.
First, check to see if your dog’s gums are dry and sticky. In addition, you want to check the capillary refill time.
Put your finger on your dog’s gum line. Apply some pressure and then let go.
The gum will be white at first, but it should turn back to pink almost immediately. Dehydrated dogs gums will stay white for a longer period.
3. Other Common Symptoms Of Dehydrated Dogs
The skin elasticity test and gum check that was previously mentioned are two important indicators to determine if your dog is dehydrated. However, several other symptoms may indicate your dog is dehydrated or not receiving enough water. These include:
- Diminished appetite
- Excessive panting (even when it’s not hot out)
- Dry eyes with a sunken-in look
- Less energy and playfulness from your pet
- Thickened saliva
- Vomiting and diarrhea might also occur
If you notice that something is off with your dog, check for these symptoms of dehydration sooner rather than later.
It is best to catch dehydration early on so you can quickly rehydrate your pet and prevent long term damage to their health.
What Causes Dehydration in Dogs?
The most common cause of dehydration in dogs is a lack of water intake. Likely, your dog isn’t being given access to the water it needs.
Alternatively, your canine might have access to water but does not want to drink it and becomes dehydrated as a result. Regardless, your dog should always have enough water to drink.
So firstly, make sure you are giving your pet enough water. This will save you and your dog a lot of trouble.
Sometimes though, it isn’t your fault. You have the water out but your dog still gets dehydrated. This could be due to illness, or other health issues.
After a dog vomits or has diarrhea they are at risk for fluid loss and dehydration. Fevers and other sicknesses can cause dehydration in your pet as well.
If your dog does not replenish lost fluids this problem can become exacerbated.
In addition, canines that are nursing puppies and smaller dogs can also be at risk for dehydration.
And in the worst-case scenario, disease could be the culprit behind your dog’s lack of hydration. Conditions like diabetes and cancer can cause your dog to lose fluid and become dehydrated.
With all that being said, it isn’t always so serious.
Some dogs don’t want to drink and need to be led to their water. Other times pets are too tired to drink after exercising.
Maybe it was really hot outside, or maybe they played too hard. Whatever the case was, they lost too much fluid and didn’t drink water to replenish themselves.
How To Rehydrate Your Dog?
As soon as you notice any signs of dehydration, you want to rehydrate your dog as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is by making sure they drink cold and clean water.
Give them the water and watch them drink it. If it’s hot outside you, want to be mindful of your pet and make sure they have a bowl outside with them as well.
Change the water frequently so the liquid and your pet do not become overheated and lose more fluid.
If you let your pet get too dehydrated, chances are they won’t want to eat and this will start a cycle that will further lower the fluid in their diet.
In this scenario, if your dog is getting severely dehydrated, you might need to take different measures. Water with electrolyte enhancements might be necessary to get your dog’s health back on track.
Generally, you can give your dog Pedialyte if they are not vomiting. But first check with your veterinarian to ensure they recommend giving your dog enhanced liquid, as well as the right amount of it.
If your dog is vomiting a lot, constantly has low energy, or seems to be on the verge of a heat stroke, you’ll need to get professional help from a trained veterinarian.
A vet will be able to rehydrate your dog through an IV which is a medical device that will give fluids to your dog directly.
How To Prevent Dehydration in Dogs?
Ideally, you want to prevent anything bad from happening to your pet. So how do you stop dehydration before it ever occurs?
The easiest thing to do is to always have fresh water available for your canine. The water you give your dog should be cool and clean.
Keep water in the house, and bring water out for your dog when you go outside. When you go on walks make sure you have water available too.
You also want to watch your dog and make sure they are drinking enough. If you notice that your dog doesn’t like water that much you can try adding something extra to it to make it more palatable.
For example, you can put a little bit of broth in their water dish or some ice cubes to make your dog more interested in their water.
It’s not just about having the water available though. You want to tailor the amount of water you give to your pet.
If the weather is hot and humid, you might need to give your dog more water. Furthermore, if your dog is really active, it will naturally be thirsty and require more water as well to replenish lost fluids from sweating.
Sometimes you might even want to keep your pet indoors if it’s too hot and humid. Or at least minimize the time spent outdoors to help keep your pet at optimal health.
As mentioned before, sometimes dehydration is a result of poor health. When you take good care of your pet’s health, you decrease the chances of them getting sick and dehydrated.
It is best practice to take your dog for a regular check-up from a medical professional. This helps to stay up to date with vaccinations as well as your dog’s overall health.
Furthermore, be sure to feed your dog with healthy and nutritious foods, as well as play with them often, so they get the exercise they need. You can’t always control the outcome of your pet’s health, but you can try and keep them healthy to the best of your abilities.
Everyone needs water, from humans to plants, to our pets. As a pet owner, you want to make sure your dog is getting the water they need so that they can live the best life possible.
Make sure your dog has plenty of water at all times, especially when they are active or if the weather is hot. Additionally, be sure to keep up to date with your dog’s health needs. This way you can prevent dehydration and make sure they are not suffering from more serious health complications.
Sometimes it is not always obvious that your dog is dehydrated. But if you know what to look out for, and you are providing your dog with fresh and clean drinking water, you can help to prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated.
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Be sure to consult your health care professional or veterinarian with any medical questions. Similarly, the information found in this article should not be considered medical advice.