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Dehydration in Dogs: Signs, Causes, and Management

A dog drinking water to prevent dehydration

Like humans, dogs need water to survive, but they don't sweat through their skin to regulate body temperature. Instead, they cool down by evaporating moisture from their tongues, paw pads, and noses. Hydration is crucial for dogs, especially in hot weather and during exercise.

Your dog relies on you to stay hydrated. Dogs typically need at least a gram of water per kilogram of body weight each day. This guide will help you keep your dog safe and healthy by explaining how to prevent dehydration and what to do if you notice any signs.

Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

Dogs can lose water through various daily activities and environmental factors. Understanding these can help prevent dehydration.

Daily Activities and Water Loss

A dog can become dehydrated doing normal activities

Dogs naturally lose water through panting, urination, and even through their paws. Hot weather and vigorous exercise increase this water loss. 

Ensuring your dog has constant access to fresh water, especially after playtime or walks, is vital.

Medical Conditions Leading to Dehydration

Certain illnesses can cause dogs to become dehydrated more quickly. Conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal issues often lead to significant fluid loss. 

Puppies, senior dogs, and toy breeds are particularly vulnerable due to their smaller body mass and higher metabolic rates.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Recognising the signs of dehydration early can prevent serious health complications. Dogs exhibit various physical and behavioural changes when dehydrated.

Physical Signs of Dehydration

Look for sunken eyes, a dry nose, and gums. The skin turgor test, where you gently pull up the skin on your dog’s back and see how quickly it returns to place, can also indicate dehydration. Slow return of the skin is a a sign of fairly advanced dehydration.

Behavioural Indicators

Changes in behaviour, such as lethargy, reduced activity levels, and increased heart rate, can signal dehydration. 

Preventing Dehydration in Dogs

Preventing dehydration in dogs

Preventive measures are the best way to ensure your dog stays hydrated and healthy.

You can also mix water with a bit of their favourite wet food. Monitor their intake to ensure they are not consuming too much too quickly, which can lead to vomiting.

Severe dehydration requires veterinary attention. Vets often administer intravenous (IV) fluids to quickly rehydrate the dog and address any underlying conditions causing dehydration. Blood tests and other diagnostics may be necessary to determine the best course of treatment.

Ensure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water. Refill water bowls regularly and consider having multiple water stations around the house and garden.

When taking your dog on outings or during exercise, bring portable water containers. Collapsible water bowls and hydration packs can be very useful. Make sure to offer water frequently, especially in hot weather.

Key Takeaways for Preventing Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration in dogs is a preventable condition that can lead to severe health issues if not addressed. 

By recognising the signs, understanding the causes, and knowing the appropriate treatments, you can keep your dog healthy and hydrated.

If you’re worried about your dog, contact our team via 020 8459 4729.


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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