With warmer weather around the corner, knowing these signs of dehydration in your dog are essential. Since dogs don’t sweat like humans, it can be hard to tell when they become overheated and need liquids. An ailing dog with a fever becomes dehydrated more quickly than a healthy one and may need intravenous fluids (IV) administered by a veterinarian. According to the Humane Society, the beginning, intermediate, and final signs are listed below.
- Visibly tired with a slowed pace
- Excessive panting, signs of warmth
- Changes in attitude such as apprehension or fear
- Eyes appear sunken and dry
- Dry mouth, gums and nose
- Skin elasticity is less – gently grab a little skin at the back of your dog’s neck between your thumb and forefinger then release. If the skin moves back slowly or does not spring back but holds that shape, fluid loss is present.
- Delayed Capillary refill time. Press the index finger firmly against the gums so they appear white. Removing the finger, watch how fast the gums return to a rosy color. In a dehydrated dog, the return will be much slower than in a healthy dog.
- The rectal temperature may remain at 105 degrees F
- Depression and loss of appetite can occur
- Weakness in the hind end
- Wobbly and unsteady on the feet
All dogs need water available at all times. Older dogs and dogs with kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and infectious diseases are more prone to dehydration. Pregnant and nursing dog’s fluid requirements are high also making them a candidate for dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the fluid levels drop either because fluid intake is less or there is increased fluid loss through overheating in hot weather, vomiting or severe diarrhea, especially in puppies. Water comprises about 80% of your dog’s body composition and is essential for all body processes including circulation, digestion, and waste removal. Having your dog hydrated is a must for good health.
Keep a clean water bowl or two around the house and keep them filled at all times. Do not keep your dog chained in the yard because the chain or tether can become wound up and prevent them from reaching their water bowl, Use a weighted bowl to prevent it from turning over. Also, be sure your toilet bowl covers are keep down to keep the bowl from becoming a bacterial source of water for your dog.
Warmer weather is a time to pay special attention to your dog’s hydration needs. Never leave your pet inside a parked car with the windows rolled up or cracked slightly. Cars heat up very quickly even on a day of only 85 degrees F. If you hike with your dog, you will need to provide them with water just as you need water. Take one of the many travel water systems designed to give your dog a drink while on the move. Keep a couple of water jugs in your car for refills.
Handi-Drink Instant Dog Drinkers is an excellent brand selling for about $8.00 and are available online, at Petco and PetSmart. This travel water system has a water bottle resting in a plastic drinking pan. Just snap the bottle in place and squeeze. Water fills the pan allowing your dog to drink. There are no spills or puddles and the system is easy to clean.
We all love our dog companions and they look to us as owners to provide those needs. Monitor your dog’s water intake. Your dog requires at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. So next time you take them with you on a long walk or you leave home for a day, check their source of water and make sure your pooch has access to a clean cool refreshing drink of the life giving liquid.