Dehydration 101: Keeping Your Dog Safe

Dehydration can become a medical emergency.

If not treated quickly and properly by a vet, dehydration can cause lasting damage and potentially even death. While dehydration emergencies are more common in summer, they can actually happen year-round. Surprisingly enough, it can be caused by more than just high temperatures.

If you’re using Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated food, your dog should already be getting plenty of water, but there are certainly instances where you might find your pet dehydrated. Here’s what you should be in the lookout for, how to prevent dehydration, and what to do if you suspect your dog needs help.

What Causes Dehydration

During the summer months, excess heat exposure and no access to clean water are two common causes of dehydration in dogs. This is especially true if they spend lots of time outside without proper protection from the sun, which can cause their body temperature to rise significantly in a matter of minutes.

Dehydration can also be caused by illnesses. Underlying conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, pyometra, and Addison’s disease can all lead to dehydration—even if your dog has constant access to water, he might not be able to consume enough to keep up with the added demands of the body during illness.

A dog that has been vomiting or has had diarrhea for over 24 hours without treatment can also end up dehydrated, even if he seems to be drinking normally. This is because the body is losing more liquid than it can replenish.

dog dehydration water

©istockphoto/Chalabala

Signs to Watch For

Dehydration is hard to detect when it’s very mild—by the time you see signs, it’s already at an advanced state and needs to be addressed immediately. “Usually a dogs skin will easily ‘tent’ when pulling up on it,” according to Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinary consultant for doglab.com. You can test skin elasticity by pinching a small section of it and lifting it slightly from the body. In a healthy dog, the skin should retract immediately when you release it. When a dog is dehydrated, however, the skin loses elasticity and you won’t see it pull back as fast or at all.

Dogs who are dehydrated might also have slightly sunken in eyes or dry gums when you touch them, according to Ochoa. “When a dehydrated dog urinates, you will see a dark yellow to almost orange color urine,” says Ochoa. “Usually very dehydrated dogs will also be very lethargic and have a hard time walking normally.”

Protecting Your Pooch From Dehydration

The best thing you can do to protect your dog from dehydration is to make sure they always have access to clean fresh water, especially if they spend a lot of time outside. “For sick dogs, watch them and make sure that they have adequate water intake,” says Ochoa. Offering your pet Honest Kitchen’s bone broth or goat’s milk is another way to add additional fluids to your pet’s diet. In the warmer months, we like to freeze Daily Boosters to make ‘pupsicles’ that cool your pet down and keep them hydrated.

Once a dog is already dehydrated, just drinking water will probably not solve the problem. Instead, he might need intravenous fluids to help him recover. If your dog is acting lethargic or you notice any worrying signs, call your vet right away so he can be treated quickly.

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at www.dianabocco.com

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