Just like humans, water is essential to Fido’s health and well-being. It’s needed for every important bodily function, including digestion, circulation, and waste removal. Water also transports essential nutrients and cushions joints, making movement easier. Long-lasting dehydration can ultimately shut down your dog’s system and result in his death. Recognizing the signs of dehydration in your dog early on is therefore essential.
Causes of Dehydration
Some causes of dehydration, such as diarrhea or vomiting that don’t stop after a day or two, can serve as signs, alerting you about your dog’s condition. Leaving your dog outside without water during hot weather is another culprit. Dehydration and overheating can occur, and if neglected, these can trigger heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or sudden death from cardiac arrhythmia.
Progressive Signs of Dehydration
An initial sign of dehydration is lethargic behavior. Fido might be slower in his movements. He might seem less animated and have an apprehensive attitude. His eyes might appear dry and sunken and his nose might feel dry. Dehydration can also make his mouth and gums dry, sticky or pale. Fido might be panting a lot, especially if the dehydration is caused by overheating.
Loss of skin elasticity is an intermediate sign of dehydration. By pinching the skin on your dog’s back between your thumb and index finger you can confirm this. The skin of a healthy dog goes right back into place, while the skin of a dehydrated dog will move back slowly. If skin doesn’t pop back at all, severe dehydration might have set in.
Another intermediate sign of dehydration is delayed capillary refill time. You can test this by pressing your index finger against your dog’s gums. In a healthy dog, the blood will quickly return to the gums when you remove your finger. In a dehydrated dog, blood flow to the gums will be slow.
In the latter stages of dehydration, Fido can appear unstable and wobbly on his feet and weak in the hind end.
Prevention and Treatment
Always ensure Fido has water available, especially during exercise in hot weather. If he shows beginning signs of dehydration, electrolyte-enhanced waters can help replenish lost fluids. In severe cases, intravenous fluids can be administered. Always consult your veterinarian, because sometimes underlying causes, such as kidney disorders and infectious diseases, can trigger dehydration. You vet can examine your dog, perform tests, make a diagnosis and recommend proper treatment.
PetMD:The Importance of Water for Dog Nutrition
The Humane Society of Harrisburg: Signs of Dehydration in Dogs
PetMD: Dehydration in Dogs