Dehydration is an issue that many pet owners don't think about, especially during the winter time. but dogs can become dehydrated easily, and when they do, they might rapidly progress to needing emergency medical care. Learn about the danger of dehydration in dogs, how to prevent it, and what symptoms to look for.
The Danger of Dehydration
You know how you feel when you are thirsty. Dogs need water in order to keep their bodies functioning. As they lose water, they become increasingly tired. They might become inattentive or struggle to eliminate waste. Your dog also needs water to regulate their body temperature and absorb nutrients. If your dog loses too much water they will begin to suffer from electrolyte imbalances which affect nerve and kidney function. Permanent kidney damage or even kidney failure can result in death if dehydration is not addressed.
Sometimes, dehydration is caused by other illnesses or conditions. If your dog seems constantly thirsty, see your vet to make sure your dog doesn't need treatment for a hidden condition.
Most dehydration, however, comes because the dog is working too hard without sufficient water. In winter, pet owners can forget their own thirst and the thirst of their dogs. However, if you walk your dog, allow your dog to play outside or indoors, or if your dog works with you, they need just as much (if not more) water than they need in the heat.
Provide an open bowl of water indoors for your pet to access. If your dog prefers being outside (some heavy-coated dogs enjoy cold weather), provide water in a heated bowl so that they always have access to water when the temperature drops. Bring water with you on walks and runs. If your dog works with you on a farm, take water out on the job and offer it every hour at least.
Dogs show signs of dehydration in their soft tissues. Their gums will not immediately return to pink when pushed. Their mouth and tongue will seem drier. Your dog may seem to need greater amounts of rest. They might have droopy, tired-looking eyes, and their skin might look more saggy. Your dog will not eat as much as normal.
If you suspect dehydration, take your dog to the vet immediately. Your dog might need IV fluids in order to prevent further complications. For more information about pet care and emergency, contact a local vet, like Robert Irelan DVM.