Dehydration in Dogs

June 26, 2020 3 min read

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration in dogs occurs when the loss of water in a dog’s body exceeds the amount of intake. Dehydration is a spectrum that can range in severity from mild to severe. In serious cases of dehydration, dogs can suffer from collapse, organ failure, and even death. Severely dehydrated dogs require immediate emergency care from his or her veterinarian. If you suspect that your dog is severely dehydrated, contact the veterinarian right away.

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration. Monitor your dog’s behavior closely if your dog is ill or at-risk of overheating from warm temperatures, exercising, or hunting.

Causes of Dehydration:

Dehydration is generally the result of reduced fluid intake or excessive fluid loss. Persistent vomiting or diarrhea, heat stroke, and decreased intake of water or food are common causes of dehydration in dogs. It’s recommended to contact your veterinarian to check for potential underlying health conditions, such as kidney disease, if dehydration becomes a common occurrence.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration vastly differs from thirst. In fact, not all dehydrated dogs have thirst as a symptom. Dehydration in dogs can appear as:

  • Loss of Elasticity in the Skin – This is a very common sign of dehydration and is easy to test for. If you gently pull up an inch or two on the skin of an adequately-hydrated dog at its neck, the skin should retract immediately. When a dog is dehydrated, the skin will very slowly return to its original position.
  • Excessive Panting or Fast Breathing
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
  • Excess Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Loss of Balance
  • Dry, Sticky Gums
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sunken Eyes

Ways to Prevent and Treat Dehydration

The best way to treat mild cases of dehydration in dogs is to prevent it. There are two good, general rules of thumb to follow to prevent dehydration in dogs.

  1. If you’re outside in the heat and you feel thirsty, your dog likely is thirsty as well.
  2. It is recommended that dogs consume at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.

To meet the water requirements for dogs, you can encourage frequent hydration in the field or on-the-go with products such as the Handi Drink Waterer. This portable, durable waterer provides fresh, clean water to keep your dog hydrated. It’s as easy as snapping the water bottle onto the water pan and squeezing. The Handi Drink Waterer is available in two sizes, 17 oz. or 25 oz.

Staff Tip: Freeze the water bottle prior to heading out so your dog will be able to enjoy refreshing, cool water.

 When your dog is kenneled, ensure that your dog always has access to water with automatic waterers. Non-fixed bowls and pails can be prone to spilling, reducing the amount of available water. Automatic water bowls attached to a wall or kennel pole, such as our best-selling Nelson Automatic Dog Waterer Model 1200, provide assurance that your dog will not tip it over; therefore providing constant access to fresh, clean water. This product offers two sturdy mounting options to meet your kenneling needs.

 As previously mentioned, a sign of dehydration may include vomiting. To prevent exacerbating dehydration in your dog, slowly offer small sips of water every few minutes, as too much water too quickly may induce vomiting. In place of regular water, you can also offer an electrolyte solution.

Importance of Electrolytes

 

  Dehydration throws off the balance of electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, and potassium. Electrolytes are involved in most of the body's daily functions and replenishment after fluid loss is important to your dog’s overall health. Administering an electrolyte supplement, such as our Pet-A-Lyte oral solution, works to support normal fluid levels by replacing fluids lost from dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and other illnesses or conditions. Pet-A-Lyte also provides a faster recovery time with a tasty chicken flavor.
 Kinetic Hydro 30K is another alternative for an electrolyte supplement with the added benefits of digestible proteins and carbohydrates for your dog. This effective drink mix acts as a supplemental nutrient replacement source while encouraging hydration.

Dehydration in dogs can quickly become a dangerous condition. Stay on top of your dog’s health by recognizing the signs of dehydration and taking immediate, appropriate action depending on the severity. Prevent dehydration in the first place by allowing your dog access to fresh water in the field or in the kennel to meet the recommended amount of water consumption every day.

Staff Tip: If your dog does not appear to be drinking enough water, try flavoring it with beef, chicken, or bone broth to encourage more water intake. 


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