Identifying Canine Dehydration In Elderly or Obese Dogs

Canine dehydration most often affects puppies, overweight dogs and older dogs of any size and breed. Recognizing the physical signs of a dog that needs hydration, especially an elderly or obese dog, can prevent further health problems like heatstroke.

Dehydration Symptoms

One of the most common ways to check for dehydration in dogs is to identify any loss of skin elasticity by pinching the skin at the back of the dog's neck. The skin should go back into place immediately in younger dogs, but older pets have lost some skin elasticity through old age and obese dogs tend to have poor skin elasticity as well due to extra skin fat, so this is not an ideal way to check for dehydration.

Other ways to identify canine hydration:

  • Check capillaries in the mouth-if the gum is pressed gently, the area should turn white and then quickly turn pink again when properly hydrated
  • Heavy panting
  • Sunken and dry eyes
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry gums, mouth and nose

How To Rehydrate A Dog

  • Give the dog small amounts of water to prevent excessive drinking, which could lead to vomiting that will further dehydrate the dog
  • Bring the dog to a shaded area if outside in the heat
  • Don't give the dog any dry food
  • Mix electrolytes with his water
  • Add broth to water to encourage drinking if the dog is reluctant
  • Check the dog's throat and mouth if he isn't drinking to make sure there isn't something blocking his throat

If he isn't drinking for a long period of time, bring him to a vet to rule out a physical health problem and possibly get IV fluid treatment

Preventing Dehydration

  • Always have plenty of fresh water near the dog in bowls that aren't easily knocked over and make sure the dog can easily reach the water if he is tied up
  • Keep older dogs in the shade on hot days when you have to be outdoors
  • Carry extra water on car trips or outdoor activities
  • Remember to bring bowls, and ensure you'll have drinking water, when taking your dog on camping trips or hiking trails.
  • Don't overexert obese or elderly dogs, even if they aren't outside in hot conditions
  • Feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet to prevent obesity
  • Stay active and exercise with your dog from a young age to keep him slim, but limit activity on hot days

Dehydration can lead to death if the symptoms are left untreated, especially in high risk pets like elderly and obese dogs. Early detection and responsible pet care can easily prevent any problems with dehydration.