We frequently see dehydration in dogs at our Englewood animal hospital. Dehydration occurs when your dog's body loses more water and electrolytes than they consume, causing serious problems with their internal organs, joints, digestion, and body temperature.
Dehydration in Dogs
Water is essential for all mammals, including dogs and humans, to function properly. Water is essential to the proper functioning of almost every bodily function. Dehydration occurs when your dog loses more water and electrolytes than they take in, and your dog's body begins to deteriorate.
Dehydration in dogs is a very serious issue that can lead to kidney failure, loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases, death.
How Dehydration Happens
Throughout the day, your dog's body will naturally lose water through panting, breathing, urinating, defecating, and evaporation through their paws. This fluid and electrolyte loss is then made up for when your dog eats and drinks.
If your dog's body reaches a point where their fluid intake is less than their fluid loss, their blood flow and fluid volume is reduced, which reduces the delivery of oxygen to your pet's organs and tissues.
Electrolytes are naturally occurring minerals that humans and dogs require to maintain good health. Electrolytes are salts such as sodium, chloride, and potassium that help to balance the pH of the body, transport nutrients into cells, facilitate muscle function, and regulate nerve function.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs
The loss of elasticity in your dog's skin is the most common and easiest to detect symptom of dehydration. If you lightly pull on your dog's skin and it does not readily return to its original position, your dog is most likely dehydrated!
Another sign of dehydration in dogs is xerostomia. Xerostomia occurs when your dog's gums lose moisture and become dry and sticky, and his saliva thickens and becomes pasty. Loss of appetite, panting, and a dry nose are also signs of dehydration. In severe cases, your dog's eyes may be sunken or he may collapse from shock.
The Primary Causes of Dehydration
Your dog could become dehydrated for several reasons including heatstroke, illness, fever, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, and insufficient fluid intake.
Immediate Treatment if Your Dog Becomes Dehydrated
If your dog is showing signs of shock, heatstroke, or severe dehydration, contact your veterinarian right away. While you're on your way to the vet's office, your vet may advise you to start giving your dog small amounts of water to start the rehydration process. Rehydration with intravenous fluids is used to treat dogs with this level of dehydration.
If your dog is severely dehydrated immediate emergency care is essential!
If your dog is mildly dehydrated, give him small amounts of water to drink every few minutes or give him pieces of ice to lick. Ringer's lactate (an electrolyte replacement fluid) could also be given to your dog to help replenish lost minerals. It is critical not to give your dog too much water at once, as this may cause him to vomit, causing further dehydration. Even if your dog is suffering from a minor cause of dehydration, you should consult your veterinarian for further advice.
Preventing Your Dog from Becoming Dehydrated
If your dog is experiencing frequent or severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination to determine the underlying cause. Severe vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of a variety of serious conditions that necessitate immediate medical attention. To help your dog stay hydrated while experiencing these symptoms, give them an electrolytic solution until they feel better. If the symptoms persist, IV fluids may be the only way to avoid the serious consequences of dehydration.
To keep your healthy dog from becoming dehydrated, always keep a readily available and ample supply of clean drinking water on hand. If your dog spends time outside in hot weather or engages in strenuous exercise, he or she will require more water to stay hydrated.
Dogs need at least one ounce of water per day for every pound of body weight. If you're unsure whether your dog is drinking enough, consult your veterinarian for tips on how to make sure your dog is getting enough fluids.