WHAT IS DEHYDRATION?
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Dehydration in dogs is more than needing a drink of water. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it is taking in. The body will compensate by drawing water out of its cells. The result is a loss of electrolytes such as potassium, chloride and sodium which in turn can affect the body’s systems. Water plays a critical role in a dog’s body, lubricating joints, helping regulate body temperature, transporting nutrients, flushing waste and more. Normally, water is lost and gained throughout the day. Gained by drinking and eating, lost by panting, breathing, urinating, defecating and evaporation through paws.

PREVENTING DEHYDRATION

The simplest way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water at all times. Keep his bowls clean and monitor that he is actually consuming adequate amounts of water. Other causes of dehydration are lack of food, injury, illness and overheating.

Some dogs are more susceptible to dehydration due to genetics. Special care should be taken to monitor these susceptible dogs as it can progress from early signs to serious very quickly.

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RECOGNIZING SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
A healthy dog has a wet nose, moist tongue and bright, moist eyes. When gently pinched, their skin will spring back.  Realize a dehydrated dog may not act thirsty so an owner needs to be aware of the signs.
Early signs
lethargic behavior
slowed movement
excessive panting
anxious behavior
sunken or dry looking eyes
dry tongue, nose, gums
Progressive
loss of skin elasticity
slow capillary refill
Serious
weakened mobility
walking clumsily
TREATMENT OF DEHYDRATION
If you suspect your dog is dehydrated offer him water. If he hasn’t had water for awhile watch that he doesn’t drink too fast or it could cause him to vomit, thus losing more fluids. Ice can be offered as some dogs will lick ice when they won’t drink water. If your dog shows no interest in rehydrating himself, veterinary care is needed. Dehydration can also be a sign of something more serious such as kidney failure and should not be ignored. Intravenous fluids will be needed to replenish fluid levels and electrolytes.
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