The summer months are hotter now than ever before. Record heatwaves have occurred across the world and it isn’t all good news. Those of us that struggle to stay cool and hydrated can suffer from heatstroke, dehydration and other illnesses.
This is as true for our dogs as it is for us humans. They need to have enough shade and water to stay healthy in the heat. Another way to help protect your canine companion from harm is to understand the signs of dog dehydration.
In this brief guide, our guest blogger David Gray of Dog Desires discusses some of the most common signs to look out for and what to do about them.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Dehydrated?
Some signs may be minor and easily corrected with some rest and water. Others may need medical attention. Before that, let’s consider the difference between thirst and dehydration.
The difference between thirst and dehydration.
Is your dog dehydrated, thirsty or dealing with another illness? Or how long can a dog go without water?
Dogs will get thirsty a lot if they haven’t had enough water in the short-term. Dehydration is much more severe. It means that the body has lost a lot more fluid than it has retained. This could be due to a severe lack of water to drink over a longer period, frequent urination through illness, periods of diarrhoea or even blood loss. Believe it or not, dogs can go without water for up to 2-3 days, but you should never let it get until that point.
Also if your dog has had a recent bout of illness that includes spells of vomiting or diarrhoea, then there is a good chance that they may be dehydrated.
These symptoms lead to a rapid loss of fluid from the body. We know ourselves to keep our fluids up and force ourselves to drink more water when we have stomach bugs and gastric flu. But a dog doesn’t know this. They may suffer and fail to drink enough water to rehydrate themselves. It is important to try and encourage dogs to drink when they are ill. If you can’t you may need some medical help.
#1 Check the skin on the back of the dog’s neck first.
One of the most common tell-tale signs of dehydration in dogs is a phenomenon called tenting.
If you pinch the skin together on the back of the neck of a healthy dog, it should spring back into place. This means that it has retained fluid and elasticity. This doesn’t happen on a dehydrated dog. Instead, the skin stays in place in a tent shape. Interestingly, similar effects can also occur with human skin. If this happens, the next step is to figure out why it has happened. Has the dog stopped drinking for some reason? Is there any other sign of an underlying illness.
#2 Is your dog weaker and more lethargic than normal?
It is usually pretty easy to tell when our pets aren’t quite themselves. They don’t have the same energy when they wag their tail, their eyes lose their sparkle and they lack energy.
These symptoms can all occur when a dog is dealing with dehydration. However, these symptoms are also easily attributed to a host of other conditions. Therefore, you must get them to a vet to find out more.
#3 Consult a vet when you suspect that your dog is suffering from dehydration.
Dehydration can be fatal when it isn’t diagnosed or treated in time. Therefore, you must contact your vet as soon as you suspect it. This will give your animal a fighting chance for three reasons. First of all, the vet will give a full examination and diagnosis.
They can test for underlying illnesses that may have caused the situation and give a personalised prognosis. Secondly, they can offer the right treatment at the clinic to correct the problem. IV drips offer a direct source of fluids to readdress the balance quickly. Thirdly, they can offer you advice about the condition and possible causes. This may help you prevent it from happening again.
This is an important point to take away here when questioning is your dog dehydrated. We can’t wait until we see that tented skin to appreciate the risks of dehydration in dogs.
Dehydration is completely preventable with the right diet, regular access to water and appropriate care in the summer months. Keep an eye on these factors, watch out for the signs of dehydration and keep them happy and healthy.
Guest Blog – BIO
David is a lifetime dog lover with a particular fondness of golden retrievers. He also runs a blog over at DogDesires where gives advice and guidance to help dog owners around the world!
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