Although dogs are more prone to dehydration during the aptly named dog days of summer, signs of dehydration in dogs occur year round. Here’s what to know about your dog’s water needs and dehydration warning symptoms.
Normal Water Needs for Healthy Dogs
In general, a healthy adult dog needs to drink at least 1 oz. of water per 1 lb.of body weight every day. For example, a 24 lb. dog needs to drink at least 24 oz. or 3 cups of water a day.
Dogs that usually drink more water include:
- Puppies and lactating dogs
- Active dogs like hunting and working dogs
- Agility and other sports or show dogs
Common Dehydration Signs and Symptoms
Dehydration may be a symptom of many other conditions or illnesses. But, lack of enough fluids alone can quickly lead to heatstroke and organ failure. Look for dehydration warning signs like:
- Drinking too much or too little
- Eating less or not at all
- Dry nose, gums, or mouth
- Low energy and sluggishness
- Sunken eyes in advanced cases
Be aware that some dogs are more predisposed to dehydration. Short-nose breed dogs like pugs or boxers and senior dogs are at greater risk. Some dog medications can cause excessive thirst and water loss too. So check with your vet for diagnosis and treatment options.
Home Checks for Dehydration
Along with behavior and visual cues, regularly checking your dog’s skin and gums can help you detect dehydration signs between vet appointments.
Unless your dog is significantly overweight, gently pull up the skin on the back of the neck or between the shoulders and release it to see if the skin springs back to normal. If not, the loss of skin elasticity usually indicates dehydration.
Another way involves pressing gently on your dog’s gums for a few seconds and releasing to see how fast the pressed spot returns to pink. But, don’t try this at home and risk getting bit if you or your dog isn’t comfortable. Sick dogs can be nippier than usual, so don’t force it. Let the vet do this one if your dog isn’t cooperating.
Easy Ways to Prevent Dehydration
- Wash the water bowl daily to prevent bacteria build up.
- Keep the water bowl full of clean, fresh water when indoors.
- Avoid going outside for too long on hot days and during peak temperature times.
- Take portable water bowls, or pet travel water bottles with fold out dispensers, with you on road trips, to dog parks, or when walking your dog outside.
- Stay in shady areas with a breeze or use a portable fan to help stay cool.
- When outdoors, a small kiddies pool and specialty cool pet mats can help too.
Be sure to include electrolyte solutions for dogs in your pet emergency kit to give your dog for mild to moderate dehydration symptoms. As always, contact your vet for persistent dehydration signs and more information about your dog’s particular water needs.
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A Dog’s Day at the Zoo
Snowflake Paws, Floppy Jaws