Dehydration in Dogs Signs, Causes, Treatment, Prevention and How to Re-hydrate

Dehydration in dogs

Dehydration in dogs can be mild or severe. It can progress to a life-threatening situation and thus immediate attention is required. Below we discuss the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention of dog dehydration. We also tell you how to re-hydrate your dog at home.

Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration in dogs refers to a lack of water in your pet’s body. Proper daily intake of fluids is essential in life for maintenance of good health. Fluids makeup 80 percent of a dog’s body content and comprise of water and vital electrolytes. It serves as the base for biological processes such as circulation, waste removal, and digestion and dissolves both natural and unnatural substances in the body.

Dehydration occurs when a dog loses its ability to replace any lost fluids orally. It is as a result of inadequate water intake or loss of excessive water.

Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

Old, pregnant and ill dogs tend to be susceptible to dehydration. This is due to the various body needs and health conditions that come with them. While it may be expected in these, what causes dehydration in dogs that seem healthy? The loss of excess water can be caused by the factors discussed below.

  • Overheating in days when it is too hot.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea leads to loss of huge amounts of fluid
  • Diabetes mellitus or kidney disease
  • Fever
  • Excessive blood loss through injuries

Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration in dogs if left untreated could cause serious damage to vital organs or even death in severe cases. To tell when your dog is suffering from this life-threatening condition, there are various signs of dehydration in dogs.

Unusual Behavior

A dog that is suffering from dehydration will tend to seek water. As a result, you may see it pacing up and down and appearing restless while in pursuit of water. Additionally, it will exhibit anxious facial expressions as well as repeatedly lick their lips. Dehydrated dogs may also lie down with their noses rested on the water bowl.

Dry Gums

Checking out your dog’s gums can help tell if your dog is dehydrated. In normal circumstances, the gums will appear moist and shiny. However, when a dog is dehydrated saliva production is decreased. This makes the dog have dry gums that feel tacky. Calm your dog up and when he is relaxed check their gums to know if they are dehydrated.

Decreased Skin Elasticity

Checking out the dog’s scruff is the classic dehydration test often carried out by veterinarians. With dehydration in dogs, the skin’s elastic recoil is usually decreased. This test can be done following the procedure below:

  • Locate the scruff. This is the part of your dog’s skin located at the back of its neck over its shoulders.
  • Once you have a hold of it, lift it up gently above your dog in a vertical position.
  • Release the scruff and observe what happens. With a well-hydrated dog, the scruff should go back to its position instantaneously. If your dog is dehydrated, the skin will take more than two seconds to get back to the normal position.

Infrequent Urination

When a dog takes insufficient amounts of fluids, the body switches into retaining as much fluid in the body as possible. As a result, it won’t urinate much and if it does, the urine will be concentrated. This will give the urine an unusual color which is most of the times deep yellow.

Additional Dehydration In Dogs Symptoms

There is a wide range of symptoms of dog dehydration. In addition to those discussed above, a dog will also show other signs of being unwell. Here are some additional dehydration in dogs symptoms:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Delayed capillary refill time
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Weak pulse quality

How to Rehydrate a Dog – Dehydration in Dogs Treatment

The various ways on how to rehydrate a dog are aimed at fluid replacement and reversing the cause of dehydration.

Where the dehydration is mild, fluid replacement can be achieved by giving the dog small amounts of fluid orally until the condition is resolved. This can be easily done at home. There are various home remedies that can be bought from pet stores to attain electrolyte solutions at home. When given to the dog, they should get well and be fully hydrated in a few days.

In case a dehydrated dog won’t drink or in cases of great dehydration, the other remedy would be the administration of fluids subcutaneously or intravenously.

Subcutaneous dehydration treatment refers to fluids being deposited beneath the skin through a needle. With time, the system absorbs it. This method though is not sufficient for severely dehydrated dogs as there is no further rehydration once all the administered fluid is absorbed into the system.

Intravenous treatment, on the other hand, involves administration of fluids through a catheter that is placed into the dog’s veins. This is most appropriate for severely dehydrated dogs that have been hospitalized.

Once your dog has been rehydrated effectively, it is necessary to treat the cause of dehydration. There are specific treatments for each condition. With proper diagnosis, your veterinarian will know what to do.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

To always keep your dog sufficiently hydrated, here are some pointers and tips to bear in mind.

  • At every time, ensure your dog has access to clean water. Change it on a daily basis and ensure the water bowl is clean too to prevent accumulation of bacteria.
  • Be attentive enough and always monitor your pooch’s water intake. For every pound of body weight, your dog needs an ounce of water every day. In case you notice your dog’s water intake is below the recommended amount, seek your veterinarian’s attention.
  • When exercising or traveling with your pup, carry some extra water and their demand will be higher.
  • While outside, avoid chaining your dog as tangling could make the water bowl inaccessible.
  • Avoid exercising your dog when the weather is too hot.
  • Do not leave your dog in the car at any time.

Sources and References

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 351 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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