Dehydration in Dogs: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Pup Hydrated and Healthy

Dehydration in Dogs: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Pup Hydrated and Healthy

Many dogs (and people) are probably not getting the right amount of H2O that they actually need and “when it comes to your [canine’s] nutrition, water is even more important than protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals” (WebMD, N/A).

Dog owners need to be conscious of the fact that without sufficient amounts of water, especially in hot weather, your pup is at risk of developing more serious and potentially life threatening conditions.

Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

Besides not getting enough water and electrolytes, there are a couple of other major causes of dehydration. If you are unclear what to do, always consult your pet's physician first. 

Excessive Heat:

Heat stroke can mimic similar signs and symptoms and can be a valid cause of dehydration in dogs. Too much heat, too quickly without adequate amounts of water and shade can be potentially life threatening in some situations. Keep a close eye on your pets, especially in the midst of a heat wave.

Breed Specific Predisposition: 

This can be the cause for many things such as dehydration especially when we consider that different breeds have different energy requirements. For example, a smaller breed dog such as a chihuahua will be naturally at greater risk of being victim to dehydration due to the fact that their small bodies always work incredibly hard to maintain balance.  

Vomiting & Diarrhea: 

Both are processes that expel large amounts of fluid during a short period of time. If your dog is presenting these symptoms it is likely that is could be the major cause.

Excessive Sweating: 

Similar to us, when dogs undergo significant bouts of exercise it can cause them to lose fluids at a much faster rate. Similar rules also apply during the summer. Heat stroke, can cause your pup to lose fluids much quicker than normal and so it important to always have a water bowl to offer your dog.

Undiagnosed medical conditions 

Some medical conditions can affect the adrenal gland of your dog, thus causing them to pee a lot more than normal, which will obviously result in excessive loss of fluids. Other diseases pertaining to the kidneys can also put your pets at greater risk of becoming dehydrated 

How to Tell if Your Dog is Dehydrated: Signs and Symptoms 

Infographic of signs and causes of dehydration in dogs

It is important to catch these signs of dehydration in dogs early because undergoing the effects for too long can have irreparable damage on your pets health in the immediate future. Here are some of the symptoms of dehydration to watch out for: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Panting
  • Reduced energy levels and lethargy 
  • Dry nose
  • Dry, sticky gums 
  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes
  • Vomiting with or without diarrhea
  • Loss of skin elasticity 
  • Skin Dryness 

Vomiting, Diarrhea and Excessive Sweating

These are 3 of the most common and easily distinguishable symptoms of dehydration in dogs. In any case where an animal is excessively expelling liquids, they are also likely depleting natural water reservoirs.

It is important to remember that dogs are not meant to sweat in the same way or volume that humans do. Thus, if you notice these symptoms, it is likely a sign that something more serious is going on.

Loss of elasticity in the skin

Water will likely be lost through the skin first so testing for loss of skin elasticity is an easy and quick way to determine if your pup is dehydrated. To test this, place your hands on the shoulders of your pet and carefully pull the skin up. Observe how the skin and fur falls; falling quickly is a healthy sign and indicates your dog is hydrated, if it takes a while to return to normal you are likely dealing with a dog that is dehydrated. 

Related reading: Tips for a Shiny and Healthy Dog Coat


Sticky, Dry Gums

Sticky and dry gums should be a red flag if you are suspecting dehydration in your puppy. Checking their capillary refill time can be a great indication as to how mild the case is.

To test for this, you will gently press on the inside of your pet’s mouth, usually with a thumb or forefinger. Well hydrated dogs, when the gums are pressed, will have a moment where the spot is white and then it will return to its normal colour. In a dehydrated dog, the gums will remain white for an extended period of time and the capillary refill time will be much longer.

Other symptoms include lack of energy and lethargy, loss of appetite and dry nose. In very advanced, serious cases, you may observe sunken eyes at which point vet attention is required. 

Treating Dehydration in Dogs

Person feeding a dog some bone broth ice cube treats

Treating Dehydration in Dogs

Treating dehydration in dogs doesn’t have to be complicated

In all cases where your pet is displaying signs of shock, unconsciousness or excessive and unrelenting vomiting or diarrhea, call your veterinarian immediately. Most commonly, your pet will be treated with intravenous fluids. However, here are some ways in which you can help from home. 

  1. Coax them to drink little bits of water. We want to rehydrate them but too much water at a given time can overwhelm your pets system or even cause them to vomit which leaves them even more dehydrated than before.
  2. Offer bone broth to replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential to maintaining and regulating certain processes in your pets body so replenishing them ensures these processes can continue normally.
  3. Give your pets ice cubes

infographic about treating heatstroke in pets

Other helpful home remedies for treating dehydration include: 

Offer Your Pup Fresh Food: 

Unbeknown to many pet owners, is the fact that a large portion of your pets required daily water content is obtained through their diet. Fresh food for instance contains 3x as much moisture as a similar serving or bowl of dry kibble. 


In many cases, your pup will also be more inclined to consume a fresh meal as opposed to his normal dry food, which is an advantage when trying to rehydrate a dehydrated dog.


Frozen Treats:

I have yet to meet a dog that turned his nose up to any kind of treat, especially one that tastes and smells good! The best part about this, is many of these frozen treats are very simple and easy to make in the comfort of your own home. 

For an added nutritional and hydrating element try making bone broth the feature of your pets pets. They are great for boosting electrolytes!


    Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

    dog drinking from a water bottle

    Based on certain factors such as activity level and weight, your dog will need at least 1 ounce of water/lb of body weight, every day, and anything volume less than that could lead to dehydration.

    The water content your pup needs can be obtained through eating and drinking. In fact, fresh food is very high in moisture (in many cases 3 times as much) and thus is a great way to supplement to make sure your pet is meeting his daily requirements.

    Similar to how an athlete may drink a bottle of gatorade during or after a competition, our pets can benefit from bone broth in the same way! Electrolytes for dogs are an essential component to making sure your pup’s body is able to continue allowing essential processes to occur such as: regular nerve and muscle function, blood acidity and waste disposal.

    In many cases, dehydration can also be a symptom of a bigger, underlying condition that needs medical attention in order to be treated. While it is not uncommon for dogs to get thirsty, being constantly dehydrated should be a red flag to you that something else is going on.

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