Is warmer weather beginning in your country? As dehydration in dogs can be a serious issue, it’s a good idea to establish a good routine of prevention now.
The water in our bodies is an essential ingredient for life. Without water, nothing survives. Not flowers, not butterflies, not dogs.
Did you know that the total body water in a dog’s body is approximately 60% of its body weight?
Since the water in dogs’ bodies is continually being used or lost, it needs to be continually replaced. If not replaced, the shortage of water can lead to bad digestion, circulation, and excretion of waste products.
In serious cases, dehydration can even lead to kidney and other organ failure, and death.
How do you know if your best friend is dehydrated? What can you do to help him and how can you prevent dog dehydration before it happens?
How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?
According to Dr. Budik: “dogs who are relatively healthy can go three, four, five days without food, many even longer than that. However, water is the issue. Even healthy animals can only go a few days without water”.
If a dog has gone three days without drinking water, then that dog will be in very poor health and will require immediate hydration as well as a medical intervention. This is a must if you want to avoid long-term damage.
Bradley Harris, DVM, of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, says that dogs with short noses like Pugs and Bulldogs are more susceptible to heat-related conditions. If you’re an owner of one, you need to make sure that your dog is always hydrated. Other dogs that may be in heightened danger of dehydration include puppies and senior dogs.
What are the Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs?
If you suspect your dog might be dehydrated, there are a few signs to look out for before calling your veterinarian:
- Does your dog’s mouth appear dry or less wet than usual?
- Is your dog’s skin less elastic than before? You can check this by picking up your dog’s skin along his back, then letting it go. If it drops right back into place, this means your dog is safe. If not, you should call your veterinarian.
- Are your dog’s energy levels down? Is he less active and more fatigued? If he seems less motivated to play and be active, then this is a clear sign of dog dehydration.
- Have you noticed shaking and trembling? Tremors are a sign that your friend might be suffering from dehydration.
- Do your dog’s eyes appear to be sunken? This symptom may signal serious dehydration.
- Has your dog lost his appetite? Try cooking him his favorite meal and see what happens. If he turns down your food more than a few times, then it’s time to call the vet.
- Has your dog lost weight?
What are the Main Causes of Dehydration in Dogs?
Your dear doggy might use his water through sweat, urine, and feces. He can become dehydrated as a result of metabolic conditions like diabetes, or a medical issue such as excessive vomiting or diarrhea. Other dogs dehydrate due to excessive exercise or simply not drinking enough water.
Moreover, the list of reasons for dehydration can include excessive panting or playing in the sun with no water. Your dog can lose valuable fluids and electrolytes if he’s housed outdoors in exceptionally hot weather, or if his water supply is frozen in winter.
When your dog’s bodily fluid drops to five percent, you will start to see signs of dehydration.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Getting Dehydrated?
If you’re looking for ways to prevent your dog’s dehydration, here’s what you need to do:
- Offer your dog plenty of water throughout the day.
- Always have bowls of water scattered around the home.
- Replace the water in the bowls frequently and invite your dog to drink it.
- A good idea would be to mix your dog’s food with water to make sure it stays hydrated.
- Avoid feeding your dog salty foods.
- If your dog is not a fan of tap water, try giving him fresh filtered water.
- Every time you’re going to the dog park or for a walk, take a portable bowl and water with you.
- After a long day of activity or exercise, give your dog water in small amounts. Avoid letting him drink too much water in a short period of time.
- Never leave your dog in a car or an enclosed place on hot days. Make sure that they stay in a well-ventilated space with plenty of shade and water to drink.
- If you spend long hours at work, consider placing pet fountains or automatic water bowls in your home.
- Offer your dog a bowl of water with every meal he eats throughout the day.
What is the Best Treatment for Dehydration?
The first thing to do when you notice any symptoms of dehydration is to get your dog into the shade, indoors, or where it’s cooler. If you happen to be outdoors in your home, you can cool him off by wetting his feet with a hose.
The second step is to offer him a bowl of fresh, clean water to drink. Vets don’t recommend giving your dog a giant bowl of ice as water from the tap has proven to be more effective. Another option is to keep an electrolyte solution in your first aid kit and give it to your dog if you notice he’s dehydrated.
If your dog’s condition doesn’t improve, then this is a sign that he needs medical attention. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and diabetes are all medical emergencies that require immediate veterinary evaluation.
The treatment for dehydration can be an IV or subcutaneous fluids. The dog will receive the fluids over 24 to 48 hours, at what is called a dehydration replacement volume rate. Your vet will calculate the dehydration replacement rate based on the degree of dehydration and the dog’s size, weight, and overall health.
Holistic vets might also recommend herbal detoxification in order to improve organ function.
Moreover, steroids are another form of treatment that can be used with a dog that has gone into shock. If the dog has lost much blood, it may need transfusions of blood or plasma, as well as antibiotics for a possible infection.
Don’t forget to take your dog for regular check-ups and lab testing to ensure there hasn’t been a development of underlying issues.
Humans and dogs are incredibly alike. We’re both social, we love food, and we’re highly emotional. Even when it comes to our well-being, both humans and dogs rely on water to keep functioning. Lack of water can be fatal for both species.
Maintaining proper hydration is too important to your dog’s health to ignore. Treat your dog like you treat yourself or your family, make sure he always stays hydrated and doesn’t overheat. Keep him up-to-date on his vaccines, and always provide him with a proper diet and exercise.
As long as you take these precautions, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your long summer walks and adventures.
Do you have any tricks or tips for preventing dehydration in dogs? Let us in the comments below, we would love to hear your thoughts.