Dog Dehydration Causes

Dog Dehydration CausesCaution LevelAction to Take
Excessive Sweat1/5Move your dog to a cool and shady spot. Be sure water is available at all times. (Read More)
Sickness3/5Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water. If signs of sickness do not subside, visit your vet. (Read More)

Dog Dehydration - Causes & Symptoms

Dehydration Causes – From Sweat

With the warm summer months coming, it’s important to make sure your dog is always well hydrated to avoid dehydration which could lead to organ failure or even death. Dehydration is caused when excessive loss of water in the body, body parts, or organs takes place from fluid deprivation, heat exposure, or sickness. When a dog is exposed to excessive heat, just like humans, they sweat.

Sweating is a natural process the body performs when heat levels become excessive. Sweating allows for the inner core temperature of the body to cool down. While sweating is an effective way to cool down, your dog will become dehydrated from water that has left his/her body.

Dehydration Causes – From Sickness

Another common cause of dog dehydration is from sickness. When the body becomes sick, your temperature rises. This rise in temperature creates a chain reaction. First, a higher temperature means your body is working harder which means higher use of fluids. Second, when your temperature increases, your metabolism increases. Your metabolism utilizes water. If your dog’s nose is running, is experiencing diarrhea, or is vomiting, this will also increase loss of fluids.

Dog Dehydration Symptoms

Dehydration symptoms are easy to identify. This is because the symptoms are external. External dog dehydration symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth, tired lazy eyes, loss of appetite, dark yellow urine, and panting. If your dog is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea these are two common and easy symptoms to spot. Examine your dog’s mouth, is it dry? Look closely at the tongue and under the lips. Look deep into your dog’s eyes, are they sunken? Do they look sleepy? Is he/she eating less than they normally do? To examine the color of your dog’s urine and determine if they are dehydrated, take a look at our: Dog Urine Color article. Lastly do you notice your dog panting more than usual? Do they constantly sound out of breath? If any or many of these symptoms appear, your dog could be dehydrated.

Dog Dehydration Treatment

Treatment From Heat/Sweating

Always have a fresh bowl of water for your dog to drink from. If you have a large home or your dog doesn’t seem to have the urge to drink water often, place a few bowls of water around your home and outside. Several bowls of water gives your dog easier access. If your dog likes to play (as most dogs do) place an ice cube inside the bowl of water. Your dog will want to play with the ice cube or try to get it out of the bowl so as your dog goes after the cube he or she will be able to get a few sips of water as well. There are hundreds of cute dog bowls available so you can even find one that matches your home décor if you would like! Or, if you are a do it yourself kind of person, check out our article on how to make your own dog water feeder.

*A great way to get dogs to drink fluids is by freezing chicken broth into ice cubes. Simply pour chicken broth into your ice cube tray and freeze. Your dog will enjoy licking the delicious flavored cubes. Not only will this provide hydration but also essential electrolytes!*

If the weather is at extremely hot temperatures the best dog dehydration treatment is to keep your dog indoors. You may want to go outside and play with your pup but use your common knowledge to determine if it is too hot for your dog to go outside. Sometimes it is best to just let your dog outside to go to the bathroom and then get him or her back inside until the heat wave in your area has passed. If the weather seems bearable enough for your dog to be able to enjoy some time outside, make sure there is a shady spot in the area your dog is playing. The shade provided by a big tree or a canopy will give your dog a place to rest and cool down if needed. Try to avoid long walks and excessive play.

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Bring your dog to an area where he or she can play in the water. The beach, a park with a lake or river, or even a backyard with a pool are all great places. This will keep your dog cool and decrease the chances of becoming too dehydrated. Make sure you bring your dog to a pet-friendly beach as well as a pet-friendly park. Also, while your dog may be enjoying his or her time in the lake or river, be aware of others who may be fishing or boating to avoid possible injury. Dogs should never drink the water from a pool. The chlorine that most pools require could cause skin and digestive problems for your dog so make sure there is a bowl of fresh water nearby for your dog to drink from. Some wonder if it is safe for a dog to swim in a pool but as long as there is an easy way for your dog to get out of the pool at his or her desire and they aren’t drinking the pool water, they should be just fine!

If you’re on a road trip or camping make sure to keep supplies such as a couple bottles of water available to use as drinking water for your dog. Check out our camping and hiking with your dog checklist.

Dog Dehydration Treatment From Sickness

If your dog will drink, but still shows signs of illness you should contact your Veterinarian. But if your dog refuses to drink it is recommended to visit your veterinarian immediately.

How to Check for Dog Dehydration

To check if your dog is already dehydrated try the following:

  1. Check the elasticity of your dog’s skin. Lightly pinch the back of your dog’s neck to see if the skin quickly returns to its normal position. A slow return may indicate dehydration.
  2. Check your dog’s gums. Hydrated dogs have wet, pink, slobbery gums while dehydrated dogs have dry, sticky gums.
  3. Check your dog’s circulatory response time. When you apply pressure to your dog’s gums the area under your finger should turn pale and then when you release this pressure the gums should return to their normal pink/red color within 2 seconds. If the color returns slowly this means your dog may be having circulation problems which could be caused from dehydration.

If you think there is a chance that your dog is already dehydrated immediately get your dog to a cool place and make sure there is an easily accessible source of water. Don’t let your dog drink too much water at once though because it may lead to vomiting from taking in too much water. Wrap the dogs head and belly with a cold, wet towel. Allow your dog to rest and watch for further symptoms such as vomiting, and excessive panting. If your dog refuses to drink or doesn’t seem to be getting better, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Enjoy the summer weather with your dogs but always remember to make sure you have the essentials, like water, to keep you and your pet safe. It’s easy to want to go out and enjoy the hot days but preparing before you go out on a walk, a beach day, or a road trip will ensure that everyone has a good time, including your dog!

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June 8, 2011
Latest Update: May 15th, 2019

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