Hydration and your dog

Mar 1, 2024 2:53:15 PM

So what does water do?

Water:

  • carries important nutrients in and out of your dog’s internal cells, helping them to be digested and absorbed
  • regulates body temperature
  • lubricates joints
  • improves cognitive function
  • cushions the brain and spinal cord

What happens when dogs don’t get enough water?

Just like people, animals start to become groggy and light-headed and symptoms can include a lack of co-ordination. There are a few other things to look out for if you suspect your pet might be dehydrated:

  • Slow movement
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Panting
  • Thick saliva
  • Dry nose and dry or tacky gums

 

Dehydration tests

  1. Pinch the loose skin over your dog’s shoulder blades. It should resume its usual shape straightaway. If it stays in a pinched shape for more than a couple of seconds your pet is likely to need water.
  2. Gently push your finger against your dog’s gums until they look white. When you remove your finger the gum should immediately return to its original pink colour. If it stays white or is slow to recover its pink colour, your dog may be dehydrated.

 

If you think your dog is dehydrated and is unsteady, particularly in their hind legs, you should treat this as a medical emergency.

How does a dog become dehydrated?

  • Not drinking enough
  • Not eating enough
  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive urination
  • Being exposed to warm weather for long periods of time which can lead to heat stroke

Dehydration results in the water being drawn out of the body’s cells which results in muscle dysfunction. Eventually organ failure, unconsciousness and death can result if not treated professionally immediately. A vet will set up a feeding line and deliver IV fluids quickly.

How to avoid dehydration

  • Make sure your dog’s bowl is constantly replenished with fresh, clean water (clean the bowl each time to avoid a build-up of germs)
  • Have bowls where they might be needed around the house and in the garden
  • Take water with you when you’re out and about, especially on dog walks
  • Avoid too much time in direct sunshine and always provide a shady spot with a water bowl
  • Don’t over exercise your dog – pay attention to his responsiveness and energy levels
  • A loss of appetite can go hand in hand with a lack of water intake – monitor and act accordingly

 

Generally our dogs are quite smart and regulate their water intake as needed - but every owner needs to be vigilant, aware of the signs of dehydration and ensure that water consumption is a priority for health and wellbeing.

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