Dehydrated Dog Symptoms and Remedies

Attempting to treat a dehydrated dog can be a scary thing, especially if the condition appears out of nowhere and you aren't too sure about exactly what to do. The first thing you must do is remain calm, keeping in mind that  dehydration is a 100% preventable condition and it is easy to treat. While dehydration in your dog may come on suddenly in some cases, in most cases there are a number of obvious warning signs. Recognizing these signs can be the difference between a quick fix and an overnight stay at the vet hospital.

What is Dog Dehydration?

In simple terms, dog dehydration is the excess loss of body fluids. This loss involves the loss of water and the depletion of electrolytes. Electrolytes are made up of essential minerals such as potassium, sodium, and chloride.

Symptoms of Dog Dehydration

Dogs can lose a significant amount of fluid from normal daily activities such as panting (dog's do not have sweat glands to keep them cool, so they pant), elimination, breathing, and simple evaporation through body surfaces. They can also lose water through not-so-normal conditions such as over-heating due to exposure to extreme heat, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Symptoms of a dehydrated dog include: sunken, dry eyes, and dry mouth, gums, and nose. The skin also loses elasticity. Another symptom is "delayed capillary refill time." Press your finger against your dog's gums until they turn white, then remove it. Your dog's gums should return to pink immediately. If it takes up to 3 seconds or more for the gums to regain their color, your dog is dehydrated.

Treating a Dehydrated Dog

As soon as you realize your dog is dehydrated, provide your pet with a small amount of fresh water, then take him to a vet immediately. It is important to keep in mind that you should not give your dog too much water or allow him to drink too fast. This can cause him to vomit, which will lead to further dehydration. Depending on the severity of the dehydration, your vet may suggest water and/or water + electrolyte products. In severe cases, your vet will administer fluids intravenously to replenish your dog's fluids.

How to Prevent Dog Dehydration

Preventing dog dehydration is as simple as providing plenty of fresh water at all times. Place fresh water bowls throughout the home, if necessary, and when playing outside with your dog, have plenty of fresh water on hand. To make it easier, you can purchase a foldable plastic "bowl" from just about any pet retailer and keep it in your pocket for those long trips to the park.