How do you know if your dog is dehydrated?

Introduction

We all know that owning a dog comes with many responsibilities. Most of them we manage admirably but some, not so well. One of these is catering for our pets water needs on occasions when the weather is hot or when we take them on day trips, hikes or long walks. On these occasions we need to remember that drinking sufficient water is also important for our furry friends not just for ourselves. In the remainder of the article we’ll discuss the importance of proper hydration, health issue associated with dehydration and the biggest question “How do your know if your dog is dehydrated.

Signs of dehydration

Lethargic

Lack of appetite

Mouth or noise are dry

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Pacing or restless

In short watch out of any abnormal behavior that is not in accordance with your dogs normal traits.

 

How dog’s become dehydrated

Your dog loses water through various means throughout the day. Healthy dogs lose water via urination, exhalation through breath and evaporation through saliva while they are panting. While this is normal if a dog does not replenish the water that is lost dehydration can occur.

As discussed earlier dogs can become dehydrated by simply not having fresh water at hand for them to drink when they are outdoors with you. The other obvious way is their water bowl at home has emptied and is not filled for a long period. Other ways dehydration can occur is through vomiting and diarrhea. If you observe any of these signs then you can use a simple three step method outlined below under the title of ‘How to tell if your dog is dehydrated’.

 

Importance of knowing if your dog is dehydrated

Water is the life blood of any living organism and this is especially relevant for pets because in most cases they are totally reliant on the owners. So we have a huge responsibility to our pets health to make sure their dog bowl is always full and we provide them with a regular source of water when we are out and about. Such as carrying a dog water bottle or a bowl you can fill when required. I wouldn’t recommend giving them water from a water bottle that humans drink from because it most cases people just pour it in front of the dog and expect them to drink a sufficient amount of water, which is not the case. Dogs drink by lapping at water, which can only happen properly via a bowl, proper dog water bottle or a lake or river.

Hydrate your dog with a specially designed dog water bottle. Not with a typical water bottle

As an approximation your dog needs 1 ounce of water daily for each pound he/she weighs. An example is a 30 pound dogs needs at least 30 ounces of water each day.

 

How to tell if your dog is dehydrated.

If you suspect your dog is dehydrated then follow the below instruction or watch the video below outlined by a veterinarian that goes into detail on each of the steps outlined below.

  1. First thing to do is check her eyes and her nose. During the eye check you should see tears in the corners and the nose should be relatively moist.
  2. The second test is known as the skin tent test. To do this gently grab the back of your dogs neck or the scruff and gently lift. When you let go of the scruff the skin should go back to it’s original position. This is what should happen if your dog is sufficiently hydrated.
  3. The third test is to check the mucus membranes. Please take care with this test as you will be putting your fingers in your dogs mouth. This should be done by a professional or someone who is very familiar with the dog. The test begins by gently lifting the side of the dogs lip and with the other hand slip your finger between your dogs lip and gum and slide along. It should slide and not stick to the gum.
  4. The fourth test you can try is the capillary refill time test. Please take precautions as outlined in point 3. To begin gently lift the side of the dogs lip and with a thumb or finger press the gum. By pressing this area of the gum you are forcing the blood around this area to disperse which turns white. The time it should take for the blood to return to the area is about 1.5 seconds.

Video below takes you through the first 3 points

This next video takes you through the last point to check the capillary refill time test.

 

What can you do prevent dehydration

At home it’s as easy as placing the dog water bowl next to the food bowl. So when feeding you dog each time, it will be easy to check at a glance if the water bowl needs more water. As a rule of thumb I always replace the water bowl each morning with fresh water and top it up in the evening if required.

Dehydration problems tend to occur when the dog is out of the house. Here are some examples when these situations can arise. Taking a dog for a long walk during hot weather can be eventuate in dehydration. Other situations when a dog can potentially get dehydrated are when taking your dog on hikes or even long day trips with the car. Most hikers who frequently hike tend to be fine with hydrating their dogs. It’s the occasional or first time hikers who can easily neglect to either take with them a dog bowl or a portable dog water bottle.

Naturally enough if you do suspect your dog is dehydrated by noticing unusual signs as mentioned above or any of the tests explained show your dog is dehydrated then immediately offer them fluids preferably clean water. If they refuse to drink then I would recommend a visit to the veterinarian post haste.  

 

Conclusion

By reaching this point and after reading the article in full you should now be armed with sufficient knowledge to prevent any dehydration issues with your pet.

I might add there may be slight differences with various dog breeds and the amount of water they need but keep to the 1 ounce of water for each pound the dog weighs and you should be right.

The main point to keep in mind is to always keep close attention to your dogs behavior because this will usually be the first sign there is something wrong.  

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