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Dehydration in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

At Newtown Veterinary Specialists we often see dogs suffering from dehydration, which occurs when their bodies lose more water than they take in. Today our Newtown vets discuss the symptoms of dehydration in dogs and how it can be prevented.

Dehydration in Dogs

Every living thing on earth needs water to survive including humans and dogs. It also plays an important part in every bodily function. Dogs develop dehydration when they lose more water and electrolytes than they take in. When this happens their body will start to break down.

Dehydration is a very dangerous condition for dogs that could cause kidney failure, loss of consciousness, and in extreme situations, death.

How Dehydration Occurs

Your dog's body will lose water naturally during the day from simple activities such as breathing, panting, urinating, defecating, and evaporation through their paws. The loss of these fluids and electrolytes is made up for when your dog drinks and eats.

If your pooch's body gets to the point where the fluid they are taking in is less than the amount they are losing, their body's blood flow and the volume of fluids are reduced, which in turn reduces the delivery of oxygen to your companion's tissues and organs.

Electrolytes are naturally occurring minerals that people and dogs require to keep their bodies healthy. Electrolytes include sodium, chloride, and potassium which helps to balance the body’s pH, move nutrients into cells, facilitate muscle function, and regulating nerve function.

The Symptoms of Dog Dehydration

The most common and visible sign of dehydration in dogs is the loss of elasticity in their skin. If you lightly pull on your dog's skin and it doesn't readily go back to its original position, your dog is probably experiencing dehydration!

Xerostomia is another sign of dehydration in dogs. Xerostomia is when your pup's gums lose their moisture and becomes sticky and dry, your dog's saliva will also become thick and pasty. Other symptoms of dehydration include loss of appetite, panting, and dry nose. In severe cases, your pup's eyes could become sunken or they might collapse from shock.

The Main Causes of Dehydration

Dogs can develop dehydration for various reasons such as fever, illness, persistent diarrhea or vomiting, heatstroke, and insufficient fluid intake.

Immediate Care if Your Dog Gets Dehydrated

If your dog starts showing symptoms of heatstroke, shock, or severe dehydration, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will be able to advise you to start giving your pup small amounts of water to begin the process of rehydration while you are traveling to their office. Treatment for dogs suffering from this level of dehydration is re-hydration using intravenous fluids.

If your dog is severely dehydrated they will require immediate emergency care! Contact our emergency vets at Newtown Veterinary Specialists for advice and to tell us you are on your way.

If your dog is mildly dehydrated give them small amounts of water to drink every few minutes or offer your dog pieces of ice to lick. You can also give your dog Ringer's lactate (an electrolyte replacement fluid) to help replenish their lost minerals. It is important not to offer too much water all at once since this could cause your dog to vomit, causing even further dehydration. Even if your dog is suffering from a mild cause of dehydration it's a good idea to contact your vet for additional recommendations.

Preventing Your Dog from Getting Dehydrated

If your dog is suffering from continuous or severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea contact your vet to book an examination in order to determine the underlying cause. Severe vomiting and diarrhea can be a symptom of a number of serious conditions and requires immediate attention. To help keep your dog hydrated while they are experiencing these symptoms offer your pet an electrolytic solution until they feel better. If the symptoms continue IV fluids may be the only way to prevent the serious side effects of dehydration.

To prevent your healthy dog from developing dehydration, always provide your pet with an easily accessible and ample supply of clean drinking water. If your dog spends time outdoors in the hot weather or enjoys vigorous exercise, they will need extra amounts of water in order to stay hydrated.

Dogs typically require at least one ounce of water per day for each pound of body weight. If you're unsure whether your dog is drinking enough, ask your vet for advice on how to ensure your dog consumes enough fluids.

If your dog starts to show signs of severe dehydration, contact our emergency vets at Newtown Veterinary Specialists in Newtown immediately. We are available 24/7 to provide your dog with the urgent care they require. 

New Patients Welcome

Newtown Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Newtown companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(203) 270-8387