WHY DO DOGS NEED TO STAY HYDRATED?
Like dehydration in humans when your dog is dehydrated blood flow and volume are reduced. This means that vital organs and tissues do not receive enough oxygen which they need to function correctly. When the body doesn’t have enough water, it will also start to remove water from the cells which results in a loss of electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium. These minerals balance the body’s pH, help with the transfer of nutrients into cells, regulate nerves, and facilitate muscle function, so depletion can lead to serious problems for your pooch such as kidney failure.
CAUSES OF DEHYDRATION
Not enough drinking water - This may be as a result of limited access to water or it may be that there has been an increase in activity levels requiring more water, but your dog isn’t upping their water intake. Illness – Vomiting and diarrhoea, excessive urination, or a fever will cause loss of water and if not treated can lead to dehydration. Heat and heat stroke – With increased heat your dog may overheat and will perspire more, mainly through his paws. If this water is not replaced your dog will become dehydrated. *Dehydration can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition, like kidney disease, diabetes, or cancer, if you are worried about your furbaby, speak to your vet.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Your pup will not be able to tell you that they are thirsty, so it is your job as a dog mum or dad to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. One sign of dehydration is a loss of skin elasticity. Test the skin elasticity by gently holding some of your pup’s skin near his shoulder blades and lift it up and let go. In a hydrated dog, it will spring back to its original position but in a dehydrated dog, it will take longer to return to normal. Try this when your dog is well and hydrated so you have something to compare this too. If you a parent to a wrinkly furbaby their skin will be less elastic even under normal conditions, so it is particularly important you have an idea of what their skin feels like when your dog is well. Checking your dog’s gums to see if they are sticky and dry. If you press against the gum gently it will go white. For a well-hydrated dog when you remove your finger the normal pinky colour should return immediately but for a dehydrated pup, this will take longer. Again it’s a good idea to test this when you know your dog is well. Other signs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy and loss of energy
- Sunken and dry looking eyes
- Dry nose
HOW TO REHYDRATE YOUR DOG
If you think your dog is suffering from dehydration first make sure he drinks some freshwater. Contact your vet and upon examination, they may recommend that your dog comes in and is placed on a drip. If your dog is not vomiting the vet may recommend an electrolyte-enhanced fluid to help replace those lost due to dehydration.
HOW TO AVOID A DEHYDRATED PUP
Always ensure your dog has a supply of clean water and refresh this every few hours. If you will be out of the house for some time, make sure you leave enough water for your dog. If your dog is fussy you could offer flavoured water or provide ice cubes for him to chew - particularly useful on warm days. If it is a warmer day or your dog has been particularly active it is likely he will need more water than usual. If you are out of the house remember to take water with you for your dog and if temperatures are too hot it might be worth considering avoiding exercise completely. Never leave your dog in a car this can cause them to overheat. As a general rule, your dog needs around 60ml of water for each kilogram of body weight but to get advice for your pet specifically speak to your vet.
Check out some of our other Health related posts