Dehydration is a serious condition in dogs that results when the pet loses body fluids excessively. The sweat glands of dogs are located on the nose and on the foot pads thus compared to humans, dogs have a very poor cooling system. Dogs can regulate body temperature by panting but excessive panting especially on very hot weather can result to dehydration.

To regulate body temperature, the dog would pant but in doing so, more body fluid will be lost. Dogs can get dehydrated by running or doing strenuous exercises in very hot weather. Dehydration is a health concern that can develop when the dog have had recurring diarrhea, bouts of vomiting and high fever. Insufficient water and food intake is another cause of dehydration. Dehydration commonly occur in dogs with health concerns that turn away from food and water.

Dehydration has to be addressed immediately as this condition can result to the death of the pet. Left untreated, dehydration can cause electrolyte imbalance. When the body’s electrolytes get imbalanced, the kidneys, the liver and other vital organs are severely damaged often resulting to the death of the dog. A dehydrated dog would need first aid and medical attention. This is why a dog owner has to be able to recognize dehydration symptoms.

Too much or too little amount of urine is one of the symptoms of dehydration. Capillary refill time of dehydrated dogs will be very much delayed. If the dog’s gums is compressed the normal color of the gums should return in seconds but if the dog is dehydrated, it would take a while before the normal color returns. A dehydrated dog would be lethargic, have sticky gums and sunken eyes. A dehydrated dog’s skin will lose its elasticity.

Severe dehydration is an emergency situation that cannot be resolved with first aid and home management thus it is imperative to take the pet to a veterinary facility. This condition is commonly resolved with intravenous fluids. Generally, dogs that are severely dehydrated would not take in water and food thus the administration of intravenous fluids would be necessary. Although professional veterinary management can rehydrate the dog more efficiently, the dog owner can administer emergency care to the pet especially if it is not possible to take the pet to a veterinary facility. One first aid method is to give the pet Pedialyt, a drink given to infants to replace electrolyte. Although the dog has to take in more water to resolve the dehydration, the dog owner has to make sure that the pet would not drink large amounts of water as this can result to vomiting that will worsen the dog’s dehydration.

Sarah’s Dogs provides more information on dehydration and first aid for dogs.

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