Dog care

How to Avoid Dehydration in Dogs

Water is essential for all living organisms—plant, microorganisms, humans, animals, and your dog too. And when any one of these begins to lose water so much without the following replacement, it leads to a condition known as dehydration.

Water plays a great role in the functioning of your dog’s body. It helps to keep his joints lubricated, regulate his body’s temperature, transport nutrients around the body, flush out waste products, and lots more. In fact, if we were to make a list of all the things that water does for your dog, it could fill a whole textbook. So, yes, water is that vital.

You can’t do anything to prevent the loss of water in your dog. Like we have seen, water helps to flush out waste products, so yes water will have to be “excused” from your dog’s body at different points (it also helps him cope with the heat). And it leaves your dog’s body in several ways including urination, defecation, panting, breathing, as well as evaporation through the paws. These are normal ways by which water leaves your dog’s body. To compensate for this water loss, your dog replaces the lost water either by eating or by drinking water.

If normal eating and drinking cannot compensate for water loss in your dog, then there is a problem. Fluid will begin to exit body cells in order to quench your dog’s body’s thirst. When this happens, electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride are also lost in the process. But these electrolytes are very important for so many bodily functions in your dog’s body such as the proper functioning of the muscles. Therefore, logically, when these electrolytes get lost, your pup’s body will definitely suffer for it. In fact, in worst case scenarios, your dog can even develop kidney failure as well as the failure of certain vital organs. Death is also not an impossible consequence of dehydration.

What can Cause Dehydration in Dogs?

At the surface level, dehydration is simply a result of a loss of water without a compensating replacement. However, dehydration in dogs could also be a symptom of pretty severe conditions such as a heat stroke, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, or any disease that leads to diarrhea, fever, or vomiting.

Any illness that causes your dog to develop a fever, diarrhea, vomiting or a loss of appetite will definitely lead to dehydration. This is why your vet will almost always advise you to push fluids for your pet so they can stay hydrated while they recuperate.

Furthermore, there are some set of dogs that stand a much higher risk of dehydration when compared to their peers and those are really young puppies, nursing mummy-dogs, toy dog breeds and the like. If any of your dogs falls into any of these categories, to ensure that you’re familiar with the signs of dehydration among dogs so you can help them prevent complicated situations, seeing that they can’t help themselves.

Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

As a human, you can definitely tell when you’re dehydrating, but too many pet owners cannot definitely tell when their dogs are suffering from dehydration. And because pets are not blessed with the gift of speech it becomes more difficult for pet owners to tell when their furry baby is dehydrating and in need of attention. You need to be familiar with these signs as this knowledge is extremely vital in helping you catch serious conditions early enough so you can reverse them before they get complicated.

The more common symptoms are listed below:

  • Panting
  • Lethargy/loss of enthusiasm and reduced energy
  • Skin is no longer as elastic as it used to be
  • Dry gums and nose too
  • Eyes look dry and sunken
  • Appetite is drastically reduced

Most of these symptoms are easily visible to the naked eye; however, there are some that might require simple tests to confirm. Skin elasticity is a good example.

You can test for dehydration by gentling pinching your dog’s skin to test for elasticity. If it takes a long time to fall back to its position, your dog is definitely dehydrated. In a normal situation, it is supposed to fall back to its position almost immediately. To be sure, test your dog’s skin when he’s hydrated so you’ll be able to tell what the normal elasticity is and what its abnormal skin elasticity is. This is doubly important for dog parents whose dogs have naturally wrinkly skin.

As for the dry gum test, first of all, check the appearance. It is supposed to be moist, and “good” slimy not “irritating” slimy. If, on the contrary, it feels tacky and dry then your pup’s dehydrated.

You should also test how fast the gum capillaries refill. When you press your dog’s gums, it would normally appear white the first few moments after you remove your finger but then it should change back to a healthy pink in seconds if it takes much longer for your dog, he’s most likely dehydrated.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

The primary way to do this is to ensure that your dog has constant access to clean, fresh water all the time. Especially when you’ve been outdoors for a while playing or exercising, get him to take a few laps every now and then. However though, no matter how thirsty he looks, encourage her to only take few laps at a time. She shouldn’t lap up a lot of water too quickly.

Also, after feeding him, ensure that he has some water to go with the food as well.

Yes, the rate at which dogs drink water varies just like with normal humans, but that shouldn’t be excuse enough to let your “hydrophobic” furkin go without water for long periods. Make sure you get him to drink water regularly. You can equally consult your vet on the best way to get your dog to take in enough water appropriate for his condition and age.

If your dog takes ill and begins to vomit or stool continuously, then help her to keep from dehydrating by pushing fluids containing electrolytic solutions until the illness is passed. If the illness is very severe though, then you might need much more than an electrolytic solution and might have to get IV fluids instead. In such a case, you will, of course, have to consult your vet.


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