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How Do You Check a Dog for Dehydration?

Dehydration is as dangerous to dogs as it is to humans. It can lead to deadly health conditions. Since your canine companion cannot tell you that they are thirsty, you need to know what to look for to prevent dehydration. 


What Is Canine Dehydration?

Canine dehydration occurs when your dog’s body loses more fluid than they are taking in. Mammals rely on fluids for proper body function. As you probably know, water is necessary for most body functions, including joint lubrication and cushioning of internal organs. It also aids in regulating body temperature and digestion. 

When most people think about nutrition, they usually think of food. However, water is a critical ingredient that allows your dog’s body cells to absorb those nutrients. 

Your canine friend loses and gains water throughout the day through evaporation, defecating, urinating, breathing, and panting. All these can contribute to the loss of water, so you need to know how to check for dog dehydration.


Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

All dogs can suffer from dehydration if they do not eat and drink enough. Some of the reasons your dog may refuse to drink include:

  • Pain.

  • An underlying health condition such as fever or heat stroke.

  • Lethargy.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Loss of fluid through panting or diarrhea.

  • Excessive passage of urine due to an underlying medical condition.

Unfortunately, getting your dog to drink more water may not compensate for the loss of fluids. If you think your dog is suffering from dehydration, you need to seek immediate veterinary attention. 


Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

You might notice some signs and symptoms of dehydration even with as little as a five percent loss of fluid from your canine companion’s body. Some of the signs to watch out for include:


  • Difficulty standing, weakness, and decreased activity.

  • Vomiting.

  • Thick saliva.

  • Sunken eyes.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Decreased skin elasticity.

  • Unconsciousness.

  • Abnormal panting.


Early Stages

In the early stages, your furry friend will likely exhibit visible symptoms of dehydration. For example, your dog may pant excessively, contributing to additional loss of fluid. They may also have dry gums, a dry nose, or sunken eyes. If you notice these signs, you need to give your dog water and moist foods. If the symptoms persist, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Intermediate Stages

The best way to recognize severe dehydration in your dog is by checking their skin elasticity. To do so, gently pinch and release the skin on the back of their neck. If it does not immediately snap back in place, your dog may be suffering from dehydration.

Also, you should press your finger onto your dog’s gums until they look white. Blood should rush back into the gums when you remove your finger, turning them back to pink again.  If the gums are dry or sticky, seek emergency attention.


Advanced Stages

In the advanced stages of dehydration, your dog will likely be lethargic and unsteady on its feet. This advanced stage of dehydration is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

For more on dehydration in dogs, visit Springwood Veterinary Hospital at our office in Spring, Texas. You can also call (281) 370-3262 to book an appointment today.

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