Dehydration is a common emergency in which a dog loses the ability to replace lost fluids orally. These fluids are comprised of vital electrolytes and water.
What to Watch For
The most common symptom of dehydration is the loss of elasticity in the skin. When pulled lightly, the skin will not readily come back to its original place. Another alarming symptom is xerostomia, in which the gums lose moistness and become dry and sticky, and the saliva becomes thick. In advanced dehydration, the eyes sink in and the dog may collapse with shock.
In addition to persistent vomiting and diarrhea, illness, fever, heat stroke, and a deficiency in fluid intake can all cause dehydration.
If there is moderate dehydration and the dog is not throwing up, you can treat the dog with Ringer’s lactate (“lactated Ringers” with 5% dextrose in water). You can also administer an electrolytic solution at a rate of 2 to 4 ml per pound (1 to 2 ml per kilogram) of the dog’s body weight per hour. Electrolyte-enhanced waters may be of assistance as well. If you have questions concerning dosage, contact your veterinarian.
If your dog is suffering from severe dehydration, however, seek immediate medical attention. They will be able to administer intravenous fluids to avoid further loss of fluids and to replace the present loss.
For a dog with continuous and severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, you can prevent dehydration by giving the dog electrolytic solutions until the illness passes. IV fluids, however, may be the only solution in severe cases.
Dehydration and Water Needs in Dogs
Dehydration is a lack of water in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to all living beings, including dogs, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health. It makes up 80 percent of your dog’s body, and dissolves natural and unnatural substances as well as serves as the root of all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal.
What Causes Dehydration in Dogs ?
Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop to less than normal. This is due to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Fluid loss can be due to overheating in hot weather or a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, especially in puppies.
What Are the General Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs ?
– Sunken eyes
– Loss of appetite
– Dry mouth
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Dehydrated ?
Dehydration may indicate a serious underlying problem. If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, take him to a veterinarian immediately. You may be able to detect dehydration at home by gently lifting the skin on the back of your dog’s neck or between the shoulder blades-unless your dog is seriously overweight or very thin, it should immediately return to a normal position. If he is lacking in fluids, the lifted skin may not quickly return to normal. Often, however, the signs of dehydration are not obvious, and only a veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
How Is Dehydration Treated ?
A veterinarian will administer intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, and run additional tests, if necessary, to determine the underlying cause of the condition.
How Can I Prevent Dehydration ?
– Provide clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from forming.
– Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, a dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice. Monitoring water intake is especially important if he’s recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.
– Purchase a water bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent your dog from knocking it over.
– Bring extra water when you’re traveling or exercising with your dog.
– If you notice your pet is drinking less than usual, check his mouth for sores or other foreign objects, such as burrs or sticks.
– Avoid chaining a dog outside, since he may get tangled up, preventing him from accessing his water bowl.
– Keep your toilet lid closed to interrupt your dog’s efforts to turn the bowl, which can be a source of bacteria, into a water fountain.