Is My Dog Dehydrated?

One cannot stress enough the importance of water in regards to how it supports and sustains life. This is true for dogs, just as it is for people. Dogs need to drink water regularly as it serves many purposes in their bodies. For example, it regulates their body temperature, lubricates their joints, helps them digest their food, and supports the health of their organs. A dog that becomes dehydrated can pass away if the situation becomes serious enough. Knowing the signs of dehydration in dogs might cause you to take action when it becomes necessary.

Defining Dehydration in Dogs

A dog becomes dehydrated when he has lost more fluids than he consumes. This water loss may occur when he urinates, pants, vomits, breathes, or even when he loses water naturally through his paws.

One of the biggest problems with dehydration is that the dog loses its ability to regulate its body temperature. Another issue is that the dog’s balance of electrolytes is thrown off. Dehydration often causes the dog’s sodium chloride and potassium levels to become depleted. These minerals are necessary because they aid in delivering nutrients to cells and helping their muscles and nerves function properly.

Why Should You Take Dehydration in Dogs Seriously?

As mentioned, severe dehydration can be life-threatening. This is because it can cause major organs to shut down due to poor blood circulation.

Should your dog show signs of dehydration, give them a small amount of water and take them to the vet hospital.

Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Here are a few different ways to determine if your dog is dehydrated:

Skin Pinch Test: Begin by gently pulling on some of your dog’s loose skin located at the back of its neck. Now, release it. If your dog is well-hydrated, the skin should quickly spring back to its original shape. On the other hand, if your dog’s skin remains bunched together or tented, this is one indication of possible dehydration.

Dry Gums: If you are able to check, touch your dog’s gums. Ideally, they should be wet and pink. If instead of being wet, your finger sticks to them, then their gums are tacky.

Dry Nose: A dog’s dry nose could be another sign. Dogs usually have wet or moist noses.

Thick Saliva: It is normal for a dog’s saliva to be watery and thin. Dehydrated dogs have thick saliva that tends to stick to their mouth.

Deep-Set Eyes: When a dog is severely dehydrated, this side effect often happens. The dog’s eyes sink back into their sockets.

Lethargy: Dehydrated dogs tend to become weak, so they spend a lot of time lying around. They don’t spend the little bit of energy they have playing or running around.

Panting Excessively: While dogs pant in order to cool off if your dog is panting more than he usually does, this is a sign of a problem. It could be dehydration, or something more serious.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Dehydrated?

Your first instinct is logically to give your dog a large amount of water. If you do this, the only thing that is likely to happen is that your dog may vomit. Instead, Pet MD recommends offering them a small amount of cool water to drink.

  • If you have a small dog, give him 1 teaspoon of water every 2 hours.
  • If your dog is medium to large, give 1 tablespoon to ¼ cup of water every 2 hours.

The next thing to do is take note of his symptoms. If he is experiencing symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or not eating, take him to see a veterinarian right away.  

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