If your dog is coming up shy of consuming the amount of water that his body needs, there’s probably no need to worry. Unless they have a serious medical condition most likely they are still staying hydrated.
Dogs become dehydrated when they are losing more water than they are taking in. This can often be due to long bouts with diarrhea or vomiting, overheating and diseases such as kidney disease, cancer and unregulated diabetic dogs.
A dog doesn’t just lose water when they are dehydrated they also lose electrolytes which include minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium.
If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated here’s 4 easy ways to check:
1. The Skin Test. To check for dehydration on the skin simply go lift the skin between the shoulder blades form a tent. Now drop it. With a hydrated dog the skin will go back into place almost immediately. In a dehydrated dog the skin will slowly go back in place or stay tented. The longer it takes for the skin to go back into the place the more dehydrated the dog may be. This is the first thing we would do at the vet if we were examining a dog that had vomited or having chronic diarrhea.
2. Feel The Gums. While the skin elasticity is a great and quick test it can be difficult to do with some dogs so you can also check hydration by touching your dog’s gums. Simply lift up their upper lip and touch with your finger. A hydrated dog should have a wet, glossy look to their gums and they will feel wet. The gum’s of a dehydrated dog will look dull and feel tacky to the touch. While you’re touching the gums check the capillary refill time. A dog’s gums are normally pink and when you press on them they will turn white for a second and then back to the original pink color. With a dog that is dehydrated the color will stay white longer. A longer refill time could mean that the dog is dehydrated.
3. Check The Eyes. A dog that is very dehydrated may have a sunken eye appearance. Remember a dog’s body is made up of about 80% water and dehydration causes shrinkage of all the major tissues, including that fat pad around the eye. This also affects the water content within the eyeball. So when a dog is extremely dehydrated, the fat pads behind the eye shrink and the eyeball dehydrates causing the eyeball to sink.
4. Observation. Observing your dog’s normal habits can tell a lot about their hydration. Dehydrated dogs will often be more tired than normal, urinate less, have a dark color and strong odor to their urine, have trouble walking, refuse to eat, not be interested in playing, pant heavily and have a general overall appearance of feeling crummy.
If you decide that your dog is dehydrated the best thing to do would be to contact your veterinarian. While there seems to be a lot of “Treat Dehydration At Home” lurking around the internet, dehydration can be fatal if left untreated so it’s best not to waste time trying to maybe treat your dog at home without consulting a veterinarian.
Here’s a great video from out friends at PetSafe that shows you exactly how to check your dog or cat’s hydration status.
If your pet is showing any signs of dehydration or you suspect that your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is NOT meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
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