Signs of Dehydration in Dogs You Should Never Ignore

by | Aug 3, 2020 | Health and Nutrition

All living things require a lot of water to keep them going in top form. Your dog is no exception to this rule. Water is necessary for digestion and regulating bodily functions. 

As your dog goes about their day, they gain and lose water. If they lose too much water, they’ll become dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to always keep their water bowl full. 

Still, sometimes a full water bowl isn’t enough to keep your dog hydrated. If you suspect something is wrong with your puppy, test for these common signs of dehydration in dogs and get them the help that they need.

Causes of Doggie Dehydration

Before we get into how to test for dehydration, it’s important to know what might be causing the problem in the first place. First, there is the obvious cause. If you don’t give your dog access to water, they won’t be able to stay hydrated. 

Make sure that your dog always has fresh water in their bowl. If you’re going to be gone from the house for a while, make sure to fill their bowl up to the top before you head out. 

If your dog experiences a heavy amount of vomiting and diarrhea from a sick stomach, they won’t be able to take in enough water to compensate for what they lose. New mama puppies who are nursing are vulnerable to dehydration

Dogs who have kidney disease, cancer, or diabetes may have trouble keeping themselves hydrated as well.   

Gum Color 

Sadly, your dog can’t run up to you and tell you that they’re thirsty. You sort of just have to know. One way to tell is by their gums. 

A dehydrated dog will have deep red gums that feel sticky to the touch. Meanwhile, a healthy dog has pinkish gums that are moist and smooth. 

Capillary Refill 

If your dog will let you do it, one easy way how to tell if a dog is dehydrated is by pressing on their gums. This method is known as the capillary refill time.

If you press on their gums and the color returns within a few seconds you know the dog is healthy. 

If it takes a while for the color to return, your dog is dehydrated or worse. They may go into shock soon.

Back of Neck 

Lift a small bit of skin on your dog’s back or pinch their neck a little bit. Their skin should snap back into place right away. 

When dogs get dehydrated their skin loses a fair bit of moisture. So, if their skin doesn’t snap back right away it means they’re dehydrated. 

In dangerous cases, your dog’s skin won’t go back into place at all. This means your dog is extremely dehydrated. You should get them to a vet as soon as you can.  

As a side note, be sure to do this process when your dog is hydrated and healthy too. This way you can easily tell the difference between healthy, elasticized skin and dehydrated skin

Other Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

There are signs of dehydration that your dog will give off without you having to check them out. For example, a dog who has been running around in the yard for a while will come back to you panting up a storm. 

A dehydrated dog may pick at their food or refuse to eat. They won’t have as much energy to run around as they usually do. Their eyes will appear to be sunken or dry. 

A dry nose is a bad sign for any dog. Their saliva will have a thick consistency. On the flip side of that coin, they might also have dry mouth.  

Some dogs experience vomiting or diarrhea. Check their pee color. Dark urine is a huge indicator of dehydration. 

In extreme cases, they’ll have a weak pulse or they may go into shock and collapse. 

What to Do if Your Dog is Dehydrated 

If your dog is still conscious enough to drink, have them drink at a slow pace. In some cases, they might need to replenish their electrolytes.

As long as your dog isn’t in the vomiting state, you can give them Pedialyte. Make sure you talk to their vet about dosing before you use this hydration method. 

If you can’t get your dog to drink at all, get in touch with an emergency vet as soon as you can. The vet might have to administer IV fluids to get your fur baby back to normal. 

Sometimes an underlying condition causes dehydration. The vet will want to check them over and get a diagnosis so they can start treating the condition right away.   

How to Prevent Doggie Dehydration in the First Place

Of course, the best way to treat a dehydrated dog is to not let them get into that state in the first place. Make sure they have a steady supply of water that they can get to. 

If your dog is a picky drinker, you can flavor the water with broth or give them ice cubes. Your dog might need more water than others depending on the temperature outside and their size and weight. 

If you’re not sure how much water your dog needs, their vet can give you a good idea. As far as them getting sick goes, you can’t control that but you can do your best to keep them healthy. Make sure they get their shots and take them to the vet for check-ups. 

Treating Your Dehydrated Furry Friend

Is your dog vomiting, refusing to eat, and has discolored gums? They may be dehydrated. Look for all the signs of dehydration in dogs listed here so you can get your dog the help it needs before their symptoms get worse. 

Now you know how to tell if your dog is dehydrated but how do you know if you’re dehydrated? Check out this post to find out.