dehydrated dog looking at glass of water on table

Dog Dehydration – What are the Warning Signs, Prevention, and Cure?

Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Dog dehydration is more common than you would think. Like many other mammals, dogs need to consume sufficient water to stay hydrated too. They can suffer from dehydration when their water consumption level is much lower than the amount of water they lose.

For various reasons, dehydration can happen. Most commonly, it happens when you leave for school or work and forget to leave water out for your dogs. People often leave their dogs at home without a no-spill dog bowl for water. As a result, they end up not consuming enough water and become dehydrated.

We discuss all about dehydration to educate Australian pet owners.

  1. About canine dehydration
  2. Causes of canine dehydration
  3. Signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs
  4. How to prevent dog dehydration
  5. Ensuring their health with Knose
a cavoodle with a pink body leash running on a sandy beach
Keeping your dogs cool in the summer is one thing. Dehydration, is another.

About Canine Dehydration

Canine dehydration occurs when dogs lose more water throughout the day compared to the amount of water they consume. Water is vital for dogs for staying hydrated, functioning, digestion, controlling temperature, and so on.

On the contrary, dogs lose a lot of fluid through breathing, panting, urinating, evaporation, defecating, etc. So, there has to be a balance between the two. Otherwise, the dogs will end up dehydrated and show symptoms of dehydration.

If a dog stays dehydrated for a long time, other health risks can occur. Through water loss, dogs also lose electrolytes, such as sodium, chlorine, potassium, or other minerals. These are important elements to function. If a dog loses a lot of water and electrolytes, it can become severely ill. 

Lack of water can hamper oxygen flow to organs and tissues. The pH balance will be altered. The muscle and nerves can have irregular functionality due to dehydration.

Causes of Dog Dehydration

Simply put, insufficient water intake causes dehydration in dogs. There could be many reasons for dogs not having enough water for the day. As a dog owner, you need to ensure that your dogs have access to drinking water while you are away.

The best way to ensure that is by having spill-proof dog bowls and filling them up with water. If you are away for a long time, you must ensure there is plenty of water available for them to consume. 

Another reason for dehydration could be the health condition of your dogs. If they are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, or any other illnesses, they can become dehydrated. 

Few breeds are more prone to dehydration than others. Some dogs simply do not drink enough water unless they are encouraged in some way. They might only drink enough water after exercise.

Dehydration can be a sign of several health risks, such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, etc. If dehydration in your dog becomes a regular occurrence, you should consult a veterinarian.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Raising a dog, especially if you work full-time, can be challenging. Sometimes you cannot give attention right when it’s needed. So, you have to prepare for everything before leaving the house.

As you stay away for an extended period from home, your dog can become dehydrated if you forget to put water out. By the time you reach home, they can be in a critical condition. 

Nonetheless, it is not always your fault if your dog gets dehydrated. Dehydration can be caused due to other health issues, too, as we mentioned before. So, it is vital to know the signs of dehydration and identify them as soon as they appear.

Severe signs of dehydration

If your dog shows any signs of severe dehydration, you should take them to a veterinarian for any signs of emergency in your dog. They can get terminally ill if necessary measures are not taken immediately. Following are the signs of severe dehydration in dogs.

1. Your dog keeps vomiting

There are two factors related to vomiting in dogs. If your dog is too dehydrated, it can start vomiting. They can also get dehydrated if they keep vomiting due to some other illness. Wasting time after noticing this severe dehydration sign can take a toll on your dog. So, no matter what, you should take your dog to a veterinarian if your dog keeps vomiting. 

2. Your dog got diarrhea

Although diarrhea is not an obvious sign of dehydration, other problems can cause diarrhea. Usually, when a dog starts vomiting, they get diarrhea too. However, if diarrhea occurs, it increases the chances of dehydration. 

3. Your dog has sunken eyes

Sunken eyes are a sign of acute dehydration in dogs. When there is a lack of fluid in the system, the water gets supplied to the organs that need it most. Other parts of the body get deprived of sufficient water, which eventually causes the eyes to appear far from the head. 

4. Your dog is panting excessively

If you notice your dog is panting a lot and sticking its tongue out, it can be a sign of dehydration. Panting is expected after some exercise. However, excessive panting is a warning sign, indicating that they are not being able to breathe correctly.

Lack of water in the system results in less blood flow, oxygen flow, and shortness of breath for dogs. This symptom is more prominent in small-nosed dogs like pugs or bulldogs. When you see this symptom, you should manage it as soon as possible.

A happy french bulldog smiling and panting
Make sure to check if your dog is panting excessively.

Moderate signs of dehydration

Now we will be discussing the moderate signs of dehydration for dogs. If you identify these signs, your dog needs care but might not be at terminal health risks.

1. Your dog lost appetite

Dogs are usually big on appetite. As a moderate sign of dehydration, dogs tend to lose appetite for food. It can be a problem if your dog is not interested in their favorite treats.

Additionally, they might not be eager to drink enough water too. If you observe this sign, booking an appointment with the vet is better.

2. Your dog is losing elasticity of the skin

When dogs are moderately dehydrated, their skin can seem loose. When you pull a dog’s skin, it bounces back to the original position in no time.

Pulling the skin is something that you should often do to check whether your dog is dehydrated or not. Vets also do this to review the dehydration level of dogs. However, if you notice that your dog’s skin takes some time to get back into position, you need to worry.

3. Your dog’s saliva is getting thicker

The absence of sufficient fluid in the body thickens the saliva of dogs. Although it is a moderate dehydration sign, it can lead to severe dehydration.

This sign is something that does not appear to be obvious, so you need to check on your dog. If you notice unusually thick saliva, you should try to make your dogs drink water. If that does not work, you must take them for a medical check-up.

4. Your dog’s gums are dry

While checking the saliva, you should also check your dog’s gums. If they tend to be dry, it can indicate dehydration. Your dogs can have either sticky or dry gums as a sign of dehydration.

Mild signs of dehydration

Mild signs indicate that your dog is starting to become dehydrated. As it can take some time to get to a severe condition, the signs are not that exact at the primary level.

There can be many signs or symptoms which often get overlooked. However, if you know the signs, you can check your dog frequently to determine whether they are dehydrated or not.

1. Your dog is lethargic

Mild dehydration can cause dogs to become lethargic. They will lose excitement and feel less motivated than usual. 

Your dogs may not move or play around and are more likely to rest until they feel energized and hydrated. If your dog is showing signs of lethargy, try putting some water in their dog bowl and placing it in front of them.

2. Your dog has a dry nose

A dry nose is an early sign of dehydration for dogs. However, a dry nose can be a sign of other issues, too, like fever. Nonetheless, once you observe your dog has a dry nose, offer them water to drink. If this sign is ignored for a while, they can start showing moderate or severe signs of dehydration.

3. Your dog is drooling excessively

Excessive drooling is not a good sign for dogs. Some breeds might drool more than others, but you need to check whether they drool more than usual. If yes, it can be a sign of dehydration.

When dogs’ bodies do not have enough water to cool them down, they drool as an alternative to lower their temperature.

woman feeding greyhound dog water
We, pet owners are responsible to educate ourselves with the dangers of dog dehydration, and how to prevent it.

How to prevent dog dehydration

With acute dehydration, you must take your dog to the emergency vet without wasting time. Otherwise, your dog can become extremely ill. 

Usually, the veterinarian will advise inserting electrolytes or IV fluids into the dog’s system as a cure for dehydration. This helps them regain energy very fast and prevents any further health risks. 

You should always take care of your dog so that they do not become dehydrated in the first place. Always give them clean drinking water. Be especially aware of the changing seasons. Dog dehydration is common in the summer!

Ensure there is plenty of water after your dog is physically active, comes from outdoors, or when you leave them alone for a long time.

border collie dog with a pink collar running on the sandy beach
Behind a happy and healthy dog is a pet insurance provider that allows you to have peace of mind.

Ensure their health with Knose

While summer can be unforgiving in Australia, it’s best to be one step ahead. There are many dangers that can add up to dog dehydration. Don’t let the changing seasons get the best of your pets! Insuring your dog is a good way to protect them. Why not find out if Knose Pet Insurance is the one for you and your pet? Get a quote under two minutes and you’ll see why we make an excellent choice.

If you’re still unsure how to diagnose your dog for dehydration symptoms, feel free to reach our Pet Health Hotline. Our registered team of vet nurses can advise you on your concerns. We also have more tips on pet trainingpets at home, and pet wellness in our blog.

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