Updated - Jun 22nd, 2022
When warm weather rolls around, you might notice that your dog is a little bit more thirsty after a walk. Low energy and panting usually indicates it’s time for a trip to their water bowl. But when does thirst become dehydration? And what can you do about it? Here’s everything you need to know about dehydration in dogs.
What is dehydration in dogs?
All mammals need water for their bodily functions to work. Some water loss is normal, from defecation, urinating, and normal blood flow in a healthy dog. But if your dehydrated dog loses more water and electrolytes than they are taking in, their body will struggle to keep up. Look out for these ten signs and symptoms of dehydration.
- Low energy
- Loss of elasticity in your dog’s skin
- Dry nose
- Excessive panting
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken eyes
- Pasty saliva
- Sticky gums
- Loss of appetite
When is it time to contact a veterinarian?
Once you’ve determined that your dog is experiencing dehydration, replacing the fluids they have lost is the first step. Provide your dog with access to water immediately. Beyond the symptoms and signs of dehydration, dehydration can cause other serious problems, including kidney failure. This is primarily because the sodium, potassium, and chloride found in water are essential to the function of your dog’s internal organs. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing extreme dehydration, contact a veterinarian immediately. They can treat the condition quickly with intravenous fluid injection. If left untreated, severe cases of dehydration can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
Why does dehydration happen?
There are many causes of dog dehydration. If your dog is running around in hot weather, their increased body temperature may cause a loss of fluids. If your dog is experiencing dietary issues, or if they do not have access to clean water, they may be drinking less water. If your dog has diarrhea or persistent vomiting, this can also cause fluid loss.
Dehydration can also be a symptom of a serious condition such as heatstroke, kidney disease, or kidney failure. If you find that your dog is displaying severe symptoms, make sure to seek veterinary care immediately.
How to prevent dehydration
Ideally, your dog should drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Although it’s difficult to have eyes on them at all times, try to monitor your dog’s water intake, and always provide them access to a full water bowl. Carrying a portable water bowl with you on walks can also help promote better hydration. Replacing your dog’s water regularly will keep your dog interested in drinking. If they seem unappetizing, consider adding an ice cube to the water, or even a small amount of meat to help with flavor.
Your vet can help diagnose and treat underlying causes of dehydration, in addition to providing care that can help prevent future issues. It’s important to bring your dog to the vet for regular visits so they can understand your dog’s unique needs.
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