How to Tell If Your Pet Is Dehydrated

As important as it is that we stay healthy, we need to make sure our pets have the same basic care. One of the most important pet health lessons you can learn is how to tell if your dog is dehydrated and what you can do about it. Let’s get started.

What Causes Dehydration?

Before we get into the signs and symptoms of dehydration, it’s important to understand a few of the basic causes of dehydration. The most common causes of dehydration in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive panting (from heat and/or exercise)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidney disease
  • Addison’s disease or adrenal insufficiency (contributes to frequent urination)

Anything that causes an excess loss of fluids in your dogs’ body is cause for concern. If you can identify one of these signs or you have prior knowledge about a medical disorder that can contribute to dehydration, you can take steps to prevent dehydration before it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, dogs can be a little bit tricky because they don’t sweat and they can’t really tell us when they’re dehydrated. That’s when it becomes key to understand the signs of dehydration in your dog.

What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs?

As we covered earlier, your dog can’t exactly tell you when they’re dehydrated. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to understand these signs and act on them as soon as possible. Failing to do so could lead to serious health risks for your pet. Let’s review some of the most common symptoms of dehydration in dogs.

Loss of Skin Elasticity – This is typically the easiest way to tell if your dog is dehydrated. If you suspect your dog is dehydrated and you want to make sure you’re correct, there’s a simple test you can perform. Gently hold some of your dog’s skin near the shoulder blades, raise it up, and then let it go. In well-hydrated dogs, the skin should instantly snap back to its original position. In dehydrated dogs, it will take longer to do so.

Loss of Appetite – A loss of appetite is another key sign of dehydration. If you notice that your pet hasn’t eaten or isn’t showing the same enthusiasm toward their food, it’s a good idea to get some water in front of them. In the event that your pet won’t drink, look up the closest emergency animal hospitals. Medical treatment may be necessary.

Thick Saliva – If your dog has been panting excessively on a hot day or after a long period of intense activity, it’s possible that they’re dehydrated. One of the most obvious  signs of dehydration is thick saliva or dry, sticky gums. While this could simply be a sign of a dry mouth from excessive panting, it’s also a possibility that your dog needs rehydration immediately.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Is Dehydrated?

If you notice any signs of dehydration in your dog, it’s important to get some water in front of them as soon as possible. In some cases, and if you catch it early on, rehydrating your pup is as simple as getting them to drink some water consistently throughout the day. If you notice that your dog is especially lethargic or lacking an appetite, call your vet or locate the nearest emergency animal hospitals to seek treatment for your dog.

How Can You Prevent Dehydration in Dogs?

Prevention is just as much part of the solution as understanding the signs of dehydration. If you want to prevent dehydration in your dog, there are a few simple things you can do. First, make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Just having water nearby can encourage them to drink. In addition, make sure you keep a close eye on your dog when it’s hot outside. You’ll want to limit how much time your dog spends outside and how much playtime they have. And finally, make sure you keep your living space cool for your four-legged friend. The heat inside can contribute to dehydration, too.

If you fear your pet is experiencing severe dehydration, contact our team at Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. 

At Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center we are happy to provide a wide range of veterinary specialty and emergency services. It is important to have a “primary care” veterinarian to keep your new family member healthy and happy with routine vaccinations and health checks. But if you find yourself in the midst of a veterinary emergency, our team of experienced veterinarians is here to help. When it comes to visiting animal hospitals, we understand that the experience can be full of stress and worry, so we aim to make things as simple as possible. For more information, get in touch with one of our experts today.