Dehydration in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, & Solutions

Taking proper care of your canine companion is a big responsibility, and one of the most important things you have to do as a loving pet owner is to ensure you’re mindful of your dog’s health. Making sure your dog is not dehydrated is one way that you can do this. 

You’ve probably experienced dehydration before, and if so, you understand how bad it feels. However, you don’t want your pup to experience that, so it’s important to ensure that your dog is getting enough water. Because dogs cannot vocalize their needs like humans do, it’s even more important to be mindful of your pup’s water consumption.

Today, we’re going to answer all of the questions that you might have about doggie dehydration. Trust us: there’s a lot to know! 

We’ll begin by defining dehydration in dogs. Then, we’ll discuss why it’s important that your dog has access to the correct amount of water. Afterward, we’ll share signs and symptoms that your pup is dehydrated, so you know what to keep an eye out for. We will even share what causes dehydration and some solutions you should know about.

There’s a lot to know about taking care of your pet, and ensuring they are properly hydrated is crucial. Consider this your ultimate guide for what to know about canine dehydration and how to remedy it.

What Is Dehydration in Dogs?

Canine dehydration occurs when your pup’s body loses more fluid than it takes in. As a result, dehydration occurs. Not having enough of this crucial element can be disastrous because mammals rely on water to keep their bodies working correctly.

Water is required to keep almost every essential bodily function working correctly. It plays many important roles. From cushioning internal organs, lubricating joints, aiding digestion, and even regulating body temperature, there’s no debate: water is a must-have. 

Why Is It Important My Dog Isn’t Dehydrated?

Think about “nutrition.” What comes to mind? Most people think of food when this topic is discussed. In reality, water is just as critical. 

That’s because water is necessary for life. Without it, the cells in your canine companion’s body won’t be able to absorb nutrients. Therefore, a lack of water can be detrimental.

It’s completely reasonable for your dog’s body to gain and lose water over a day, but if your dog isn’t able to regain some of that water, there could be big trouble.

You might wonder what causes your dog to become dehydrated throughout the day. Regular, necessary functions, including breathing, panting, peeing, pooping, and evaporation through the paws, are all part of why your dog loses water. 

What Happens When My Dog Is Dehydrated?

Several things can occur when your dog is dehydrated. The best way to ensure that this does not happen is by making sure that your dog is always hydrated. 

If your pup’s body reaches the point where their normal fluid intake cannot make up for water that has been lost, their blood flow and volume of fluids are reduced. 

When a dog experiences dehydration, they will also lose electrolytes like chloride, potassium, and sodium. These minerals play important roles in the body, such as facilitating your dog’s muscle function, regulating nerve functioning, moving nutrients into your pup’s cells, and even balancing the body’s pH. 

If you notice that your dog is dehydrated, treating them is key. In the direst cases of doggie dehydration, the shortage of fluids the dog experiences can lead to kidney failure, the failure of other organs, or even death. 

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms My Dog Is Dehydrated?

Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, your dog can’t tell you when they need more water. Therefore, you’ll have to be attentive to your pup’s needs and know the signs and symptoms of dehydration. If you do this, you can catch a potentially serious condition before it becomes worse. 

If you notice one or more of these, you’ll want to further look into the amount of water that your dog is getting. 

Symptoms include: 

  • A loss of skin elasticity
  • Vomiting — this is sometimes accompanied by diarrhea, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be
  • A loss of appetite 
  • Panting
  • Lethargy or low energy levels
  • A dry nose
  • Sticky, dry gums inside your dog’s mouth
  • Dry eyes that appear to be sunken 
  • Thicker than usual saliva

You might be wondering how you can evaluate your dog for dehydration. There are several “tests” you can complete to check and see if your dog is dehydrated. 

The first thing to do is to check their skin elasticity. To test, gently hold some of your dog’s skin near their shoulder blades. 

Then, raise the skin and let it go. When it falls back in place, you’ll notice one of two things. In hydrated dogs, the skin returns to its original position instantaneously. If your dog is dehydrated, this takes much longer to occur and the skin stays relatively wrinkly for much longer.

You can also check your dog’s gums. If they’re sticky and dry, your pup probably needs more water. Capillary refill time can also help indicate if your dog is hydrated or not. To do this, simply press your finger against your dog’s gums gently. Then, remove the finger. If your dog is properly hydrated, the area where your finger once was will be white for a moment and then nearly instantly return to pink. In a dehydrated dog, it will take much longer for pink to return. 

If you can’t tell either way, your best bet is to take your dog to the vet to get checked. 

What Causes Doggie Dehydration?

Now, let’s talk about what can cause dehydration in canines. Of course, a lack of water intake can be a leading reason why your dog is appearing to be dehydrated. This occurs if your dog doesn’t have water or doesn’t drink the correct amount. Always provide your dog with clean, fresh water and leave it in a place they have easy access to. 

Other things that cause dehydration include vomiting, diarrhea, heatstroke, fever, or other illnesses. There are also certain dogs at a higher risk: these include puppies, nursing mother dogs, senior dogs, and toy breeds.

Sometimes dehydration is a sign of different underlying issues, including diabetes, kidney disease, or even cancer. If you notice this is repeatedly an issue, bring your dog to the vet. 

Are There Any Solutions For Doggie Dehydration?

If you think your dog is suffering from dehydration, be sure to provide them with clean, fresh water. It’s a vicious cycle: often dehydrated dogs won’t want to eat, which means they lose the water content they’d get from food. 

Sometimes dogs will need to have electrolytes replaced. If your dog is not throwing up, you can provide them with an electrolyte-enhanced fluid like Pedialyte. 

Of course, you should check with your vet for the correct dosage.

Conclusion

Like all medical ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore, be sure you are nourishing your pet with the correct food, supplements, and plenty of water--that will support their physical and overall health! 

 

Sources: 

Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs | American Kennel Club  

Electrolyte Disturbances Are Associated with Non-Survival in Dogs | NCBI 

Signs of Dehydration in Your Dog | Humane Society