Learning the signs of dehydration in dogs is of particular interest to me because I use a service dog. On top of that, I do not see very well when I am out walking with him on a sunny day. This means that I have to pay special attention to research that gives me non-visual cues about whether my service dog needs a break from his job. Along the way, I have found several great recommendations, websites, and tips about keeping my dog from suffering dehydration.
The classic signs of dog dehydration
Online, there are many helpful guides about dog dehydration prevention from the Humane Society, WebMD.com, and PetWave.com. For most dog owners, they will see visual cues that give them an idea that their dog is dehydrated. For instance, his tongue may be hanging out of his mouth and he is panting heavily.
For someone who is non-visual, the cue you need to listen for is the sound of the panting. Get an observer to help you out the first few times so you know when your service dog or pet dog is starting to get into the dehydration zone. Non-visual cues of dog dehydration can also include the dog refusing to move forward when commanded and lowering his hindquarters to try and sit.
Other signs of dehydration in dogs include:
- Less animated activity
- Attitude change
- Dry mouth or nose
- Excessive panting
- Sunken eyes that lack moisture
- Skin loses elasticity
- Unsteady or wobbly walking
Keeping a service dog cool without a vest
Are there any special rules for service dogs going out on hot days? Questions about how often a dog should be hydrated come up when you rely on your service dog to stay healthy and navigate the world. When you use public transportation, there can often be a recommendation to use a service dog vest. This gives passengers an idea to not pet the dog and allow you to go about your business safely.
Sadly, trains and buses can be very crowded and hot in the summer. They may not be ideal places for you to give your service dog a water break. Worse, the service dog vest may be contributing to over-heating your service dog. One good piece of advice in this scenario is to lose the service dog vests and find a printed harness instead. This Is a more sensible piece of apparel for your dog during hot weather months, and it gives the general public the same message that you have a working dog. You can find these types of printed working dog harnesses and leashes on Amazon.com.
General dehydration prevention tips for vacationing dogs
Have you always wanted to take your dog to the beach? After a long day out and about, you may forget to keep your dog hydrated. I feel like a pro at keeping a dog hydrated for hours at a time after working with service dogs for three years. So far, I have found that you need to give them a water break at least every half-mile or 30 minutes of outdoor time.
Keep half-filled frozen 1-liter bottles of water in the freezer to take it with you each time you go out. Fill it the rest of the way with water and you will always have cold water to give your dog for up to a couple of hours. It is also helpful to have a plastic bowl with re-sealable lid. This way you do not get water from re-using the bowl on the inside of your bag as you carry it around.
What to do if your dog gets dehydrated
If your dog refuses to drink water after being outside in the heat, is vomiting, or has diarrhea — it is time for an emergency visit to the vet. However, if you feel your dog is slightly dehydrated, do not forget about dog electrolytes. Add them to their drinking water and see if they continue to improve. When the panting resides and the water drinking continues, you know you have solved the problems associated with minor dog dehydration.
Do not forget about the asphalt damaging paws
There are endless tips about keeping your dog cool all summer by doing things like getting it shaved. Regardless, do not forget about the dog paws and how hot temperatures can affect them. We wear shoes on hot asphalt and concrete, but we forget the dogs put their flesh directly on these hot surfaces. In addition to buying dog shoes, you can also avoid walking your dog during times of the day when the pavement is hot. Good times for cool asphalt in the summer are late at night or early in the morning.