Dehydration

April 12, 2012

Dehydration is serious; your pet dog can lose its life from dehydration. Unlike humans who can recover quickly from dehydration by cooling off and by drinking water, some dehydrated dogs would not want to take water and some may not be able to intake liquid. Dogs get dehydrated easily because the sweat glands that are located on the nose and on the footpads can not efficiently dispel heat. To cool themselves the dogs would pant and would lose a considerable amount of fluid. Basically, a dog’s daily water requirement is one ounce per pound of body weight. This requirement is increased if the dog is exposed to a strenuous activity and hot weather. Increase in water requirement may be due to a medical condition too.

Symptoms

Older dogs, dark and densely coated dogs, nursing dogs are more prone to dehydration. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever and other medical conditions may also result to dehydration. As mentioned a dog that feels too hot due to a strenuous activity or to an extremely hot weather would pant and lose quite a lot of fluids. Dogs that do not have access to water especially on a hot day would be dehydrated.

Needless to say, water is vital as aside from cooling the body it also carries the essential nutrients needed by the body. Insufficient intake of water can result to dehydration. Dehydration in dogs should never be ignored as a 4 to 5% decrease in the dog’s body fluids can lead to life threatening situations.

Dog owners should watch out for signs of dehydration. In most cases the dog would be lethargic, would have an increased heart rate. The dog would have dry mouth, dry nose and sunken eyes. Severely dehydrated dogs would refuse to eat or drink. The capillary refill time would also show if the dog is dehydrated. Place the index finger firmly on the gums of the dog so that the area pressed would turn to white. Remove the finger and notice how quickly the gums would turn to pink. Normally the gums would refill immediately. Refill Capillary time in dehydrated dogs is slow or delayed. It would take 3 seconds or more before the gums would return to its normal pink state.

Dehydrated dogs loss moisture thus the elasticity of the skin is decreased. The turgor test is also another way to ascertain if the dog is dehydrated. Pinch the skin on the dog’s back. In normal dogs, the skin would pop back immediately. Skin of dehydrated dogs would slowly return to its normal position. In severe cases of dehydration, the skin would not pop back to its normal position.

Prevention

Dog dehydration can be prevented by making sure that the dog has sufficient water to drink all the time. Dogs that are kept outside should be provided with shade. If the dog is tethered, make sure that there are no objects where the chain can get stuck and prevent the dog access to the water bowl. If the dog is travelling or competing in shows make sure that water is offered frequently.

Treatment

If you see the symptoms of dehydration in your dog, do not give dry food. The dog must be prevented from drinking lots of water as this could result to vomiting that will worsen the dehydrated condition. The dog must be placed in a shaded cool area and given small sips of water every few minutes.

Dogs with medical problems such as fever vomiting and other illnesses may be unable to hold food and water down. Moreover, dogs that are dehydrated may refuse to drink, just when they need water the most. The situation can be life threatening. The dog must be brought to the vet at once so that the dehydration can be corrected with intravenous fluids and other medical managements.

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