How To Tell If My Dog Is Dehydrated? The Signs and Symptoms
We all know the importance of water, not just for us hoomans but for all animals. For dogs, water not only helps to keep them cool and hydrated but it provides a number of health benefits that play an important role in how they function.
Water serves to support your dog’s vital organs, particularly the digestive system by helping to break down food and helping to aid the absorption of nutrients. Water also helps to eliminate waste and toxics from the body, as well as easing joint pain and movement by cushioning the joints. In the Summer months, water plays a more important role in helping to control your dog’s body temperature.
So when your dog doesn’t drink enough water or has lost too much throughout the day, you can see how this can become a problem. Let’s have a look at the signs and symptoms if your dog is dehydrated and discover what you can do when this happens.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when your dog’s body loses more water and electrolytes than they take in. An adult dog’s body is made up of 60% water, any lower than this, then that’s when dehydration occurs.
It is normal for your dog to lose water throughout the day through panting, breathing, urinating, pooping, saliva and evaporation through their paws. However, dogs don’t sweat like us which makes it harder for them to cool down especially in the hot weather.
So when your dog is dehydrated, it can become a serious concern. Not only does it mean that their body’s blood flow and volume is reduced which makes it harder for them to transfer oxygen throughout the body but electrolytes are reduced as well.
Electrolytes are naturally occurring minerals which help to keep your dog in tip top shape. This includes sodium, chloride, and potassium minerals which help to balance your dog’s pH, move nutrients into cells, facilitate muscle function, and regulate nerve function.
Signs & Symptoms that your Dog is Dehydrated
To help prevent your dog from being dehydrated, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms so you can act quickly when it happens.
The Signs & Symptoms Include;
- Loss of Skin Elasticity
- Sunken Eyes
- Dry Mouth, Nose or Gums
- Weak Pulse
- Changes in Awareness
- Loss of Appetite
Checking If Your Dog is Dehydrated
The most common and easy way to spot if your dog is dehydrated is to check if your dog’s skin is elastic.
To test if your dog is dehydrated, use your thumb and finger and pinch lightly on their back or the top of their head. Let go and if the skin springs back to the original position, your dog is hydrated. If the skin takes longer to spring back to the original position, your dog is dehydrated!
What Causes Your Dog to be Dehydrated
Whilst all dogs are at risk of dehydration if they don’t eat or drink enough, your dog can be dehydrated for a number of different reasons that makes them not want to drink water or lose an excessive amount. Causes include;
- Loss of Fluids through Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Excessive Panting
- Kidney Disease
- Certain Cancers
Treatment if your Dog is Dehydrated
If your dog is displaying any of the signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs, you should contact your vet immediately, especially if they are distressed.
You should try to offer your dog fresh, drinking water and typically, your vet will also offer your dog water and solutions that replenish electrolytes if their condition is mild.
If moderate to severe and they are unable to drink on their own, your vet will help to re-hydrate using intravenous fluids over the course of 24 to 48 hours.
You should never force water down your dog’s mouth or offer them an excessive amount because this will make them sick which will make them even more dehydrated.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs
The best treatment for dehydration in dogs is to help prevent it in the first place.
- Plenty of Fresh Water Available - You should make sure your dog always has access to plenty of fresh, drinking water, especially whilst exercising and in the Summer months where they will get dehydrated faster and are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion.
- Collapsible Dog Bowls - If you are travelling, collapsible dog bowls are a great way to help keep your dog hydrated whilst travelling. We now offer our very own Betty & Butch Collapsible Dog Bowl just in time for Summer. Portable and lightweight, it can be used for both water and food on the go.
- Check Bowls - If your dog’s water or food bowl is dirty, they will not eat or drink out of it. You should clean your dog’s bowls daily to prevent bacteria build-up. You should also check your dog’s bowls to see if they are eating and drinking throughout the day.
- Avoid Walking your Dog During Peak Times - In the summer, to help avoid your dog getting dehydrated, you should avoid taking them out on their daily walks when the sun is at its peak, which is 11am to 3pm.
- Ask Your Vet for Advice - If your dog suffers from an illness that causes dehydration, ask your vet about the best methods to keep them hydrated.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated this Summer
Whilst helping to avoid your dog from being dehydrated is essential all year round, be particularly wary over the next couple of months when the weather is hotter and more difficult for your dog.
As a rule of thumb to keep an eye on how much your dog is drinking, they typically need one ounce of water per day for each pound of body weight. You can always contact your vet if you are unsure if your dog is drinking enough.
Knowing the signs and symptoms if your dog is dehydrated will help to prevent it in the first place. The most important advice would be to make sure your dog always has access to fresh, drinking water, especially in the hot weather.
If you notice any changes in your dog’s eating, drinking, urinating habits, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Want to know more about dog safety tips for the Summer? Read our previous blog - How To Keep Your Dog Safe This Summer - which outlines all of our top tips which will help keep your dog safe in the Summer.