Mild dehydration is something that most people and animals go through at one time or another, but prolonged or severe dehydration in cats can be extremely dangerous. This condition can trigger long-term problems and even potentially kill in the long run. Here's what you need to know about your cat being dehydrated, how to tell if they're dehydrated, and what to do about it.
Dehydration causes problems all through the body. When a cat is dehydrated, blood circulation becomes more difficult, blood pressure tends to rise, and breaking down dry food becomes even harder on the body.
If dehydration happens often enough or is a one-time thing but severe, it can cause your cat to develop feline kidney disease. This is an incurable condition that ultimately kills the cats that it happens to. Dehydration-induced kidney disease can be prevented if you know what to do and catch it early enough, however.
While signs like your cat being thirsty are typically good indicators that they may be dehydrated, there's one very easy way to tell if your cat needs more water or has been badly dehydrated.
To check your cat, simply grasp the scruff at the back of the neck. Pull it gently taut, hold it for a moment, and then release it. A well-hydrated, healthy cat should have their skin snap back into its original position very quickly. However, if the skin stays stretched out or slowly sinks back into position, that generally means that your cat is dehydrated and may need medical attention.
Dehydration isn't something that should be tackled with a bowl of water alone. While this can gradually rehydrate your cat, the damage is already happening. The longer they remain dehydrated, the more inclined they are to develop health problems later on.
If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, get them to an animal hospital like Animal Emergency Clinic ASAP. Your vet will evaluate their condition, and if they confirm that they're dehydrated, they'll get your cat hydrated much more quickly by using IV fluids that are pumped directly into your cat's bloodstream.
While your cat is at the animal hospital, the vet will keep a close eye on your cat's hydration and ensure that your cat quickly gets back to where they need to be. This will also speed up balancing your cat's electrolytes and will ensure that your cat feels spunky and healthy again soon.
To prevent future dehydration, make sure that your cat always has enough to drink. You can use the test to determine if your cat is dehydrated anytime, so don't be afraid to reach out to your local vet if you're concerned about your cat's hydration levels.