Dogs can get dehydrated in different ways, but one of the most common is through vomiting and diarrhea. Other causes of dehydration are dogs not drinking enough, overheating or dogs affected by underlying diseases that cause the body to lose excessive fluids. Dehydration is something that shouldn’t be underestimated as left untreated can lead to serious complications.
Symptoms suggesting dehydration in dogs are dry mouth, sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity, concentrated urine, increased heart rate and lethargy. You can check a dog’s hydration levels by conducting some at home-dehydration tests.
Dog Home-Dehydration Test
A well hydrated dog’s gums are normally smooth, slick and moist. In a dehydrated dog they are sticky and dry.
Another at home dehydration test is checking a dog’s capillary refill time by pressing your finger against your dog’s gums until they blanch (turn white). Remove your finger; in a well hydrated dog the gum color should immediately return.
Another way to assess dehydration is by pulling up the skin on the dog’s neck. In a well-hydrated dog it should spring back in place immediately. If there is a delay, or worse, the skin stays up, this is an indicator of dehydration that may require veterinary attention.
When a dog is dehydrated, it can cause dogs to lose important electrolytes, which are minerals such as potassium and sodium. While plain water can help replace some, if you want to further aid your dog, you can try giving him some electrolyte-enriched drinks. One of them is Gatorade, which can work well for dogs who have a sweet tooth for fruity flavors Even better is Pedialyte, an electrolyte-rich drink made for human infants that doesn’t contain as much salt as Gatorade does. According to Gilroy Veterinary Hospital in Gilroy, CA, you can give 1 tablespoon of Pedialyte, Gatorade or water every hour or two for each 10 pounds of body weight. That means a 30 pound dog should get 3 tablespoons every hour or two.
Give Ice Cubes
If your dog is vomiting, drinking water may further cause vomiting which may lead to further dehydration. A better option is to provide ice cubes that the dog can slowly lick and has a better chance at keeping down. If you want to replace electrolytes, you can also freeze some Pedialyte. If your dog is reluctant to lick ice cubes, try offering some ice-cubes made of low-sodium beef or chicken broth with no onion or garlic in the ingredients.
See the Veterinarian
Dehydration is a serious condition and when it goes past a certain point, re-hydrating your dog by mouth won’t work. In these cases, prompt veterinary intervention is needed. Affected dogs will receive fluids intravenously or subcutaneously to prevent the dog from developing complications and going into shock. Remember: small dogs, young dogs and elderly dogs are more vulnerable to dehydration and can suffer the effects quite fast.