Dogs need to be hydrated to avoid getting heatstroke. This is one of the most commonly misunderstood health risks for dogs, and many owners are not aware that their dog can get heatstroke without proper access to water when it is hot out. Dogs are not that effective at cooling themselves off, and when they become overheated, they can get heatstroke very easily.
Dogs can also become dehydrated rapidly due to health concerns and other environmental considerations. Dogs are not as fragile as cats when they are dehydrated, but it is critical to get your dog hydrated as soon as possible to prevent long-term damage to their health. You want to be certain that you know about dog dehydration so that you can be positive that your dog never suffers from this condition.
Why Is My Dog Dehydrated?
There are various reasons that your dog could be dehydrated. Medical conditions to do with the liver or kidneys can lead to reduced water intake or reduced effectiveness of your dog’s efforts to hydrate their body. Dogs that have not been provided enough water when they are outside in hot weather or when exerting can easily become dangerously dehydrated as well. Older dogs might have trouble hydrating themselves as well if they are arthritic or suffer from another condition that can impact their willingness to ambulate.
Dog dehydration can also be related to vomiting that is caused by foods that they are allergic to, or illness related to eating something that they should not have consumed. There are so many ways that a dog can become dehydrated that owners need to be careful to pay attention to their dog’s water intake each day.
How Much Should My Dog Be Drinking?
As a general rule of thumb, your dog will need to drink 1 ounce of water for every pound of their body weight. This means that a ten-pound dog can drink almost an entire 16 ounce water bottle in a day! If your dog is in the heat or they are exerting, this amount of water intake can double. You will need to be paying attention to the intake that is normal for your dog so that you can be sure to notice if there is a change in their drinking behaviors.
When your dog is outside or is playing or working hard, you will need to be sure that they have access to an unlimited supply of water as needed. This can be a common reason for dog dehydration as people forget to bring water for the dog when they take them out. You can also make it much easier for your dog to drink when you are away from home by bringing a travel water bowl with you. Dogs are not very good at drinking from a stream of water, and you will be providing them with a much better water source if you have a bowl on hand.
How To Tell If Your Dog is Dehydrated
You might be wondering how you can tell if your dog is getting enough to drink.
The first test that is very helpful in these situations is the skin pinch test. To do this, you will just grab a fold of skin between your dog’s shoulder blades and pinch it gently, then lift up a little. If you release and the skin does not snap right back, your dog is dehydrated.
Watch Their Eyes, Gums and Behavior
Also be on the lookout for sunken eyes, grey or colorless gums, listless behavior, or other signs that your dog is not feeling well. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be symptoms of dehydration as your dog’s electrolytes can get imbalanced and lead to these secondary problems. If you know that your dog has been without water for some time, it is safe to assume that they are not hydrated enough.
When to Take Your Dog to the Vet
If you have realized that your dog is dehydrated, you are probably wondering if they need to see a veterinarian. If your dog is panting very aggressively without signs of slowing down, if they are drooling or foaming at the mouth, or if they have laid down and don’t want to get up, you need to take your dog to the vet. Dehydration and heatstroke can kill a dog in a matter of a half an hour, so time is of the essence when you see these symptoms.
If you have noticed that your dog is just drinking less than you think they should be drinking, you need to make an appointment with your vet for them to have a full exam. Bloodwork and some other tests can reveal issues that are more serious, like kidney or liver problems which your vet can help you to deal with. Dog dehydration can often be quite serious, so you should make sure that you take your dog to the vet right away if you are worried about their condition.
Dog Dehydration is Easiest to Treat When Caught Early
You should be sure that your dog always has access to fresh and clean water to drink and that you are paying attention to their drinking behaviors. It can be easy to miss early warning signs of reduced water intake if you are not tracking your dog’s drinking behaviors on a daily basis. Likewise, planning in advance and bringing water with you along with a water bowl when you take your dog out of the house with you can prevent serious dehydration.
Make sure that you take your dog to the vet right away if they are showing signs of heatstroke or severe dehydration. You cannot take dehydration too seriously, and your vet might be needed to help you to resolve issues that have caused the dehydration. Dog dehydration is often very easy to prevent, but your vet should be involved if you do not think that your dog is staying hydrated despite being offered enough water for their needs.
Welcome to Kryder & Harr Veterinary Clinic! Our animal hospital has been a fixture in the Granger community since 1981, practicing full-service veterinary medicine for all our pet parents and their furry family members. At KHVC, we pride ourselves on our history, of providing excellent customer service for our clients, along with dedicated, compassionate, and exceptional medical care for all of our patients.