Dehydration is when there is a lack of water in the body. This can be serious and potentially life threatening for pets. Water is a vital nutrient in the diet of dogs and cats and maintaining a proper daily fluid level is essential for life. 80% of your pet’s body is made up of water. All biologic processes including circulations, digestion and waste removal utilizes water.
Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop less than normal. This can happen either with reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Fluid loss can happen in hot weather or with vomiting and diarrhea.
Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, depression, sunken eyes, and lethargy. If you suspect an animal is dehydrated, gently pull up on the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. This is called a “skin tent” test. In animals with normal hydration, the skin snaps back down against the animal’s body quickly. If the skin stays up like a tent, then that is an indication of dehydration. Carefully offer water to the animal. Make sure the water is not too cold. It is best not to offer sports drinks or other electrolyte waters to the pet. These waters contain a large amount of sugar that is not good for pets. Be sure to seek veterinary care for any pet that is suspected of being dehydrated.
You can always help to prevent dehydration by providing clean water and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, do not forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from forming. Monitor your pet’s water intake. Generally, dogs and cats need at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If your pet is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice. Monitoring water intake is especially important if your pet is recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.
Some other things you can do are to purchase a water bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent your dog from knocking it over. Bring extra water when you are traveling or exercising with your dog. If you notice your pet is drinking less than usual, check his mouth for sores or other foreign objects, such as burrs or sticks. Avoid chaining a dog outside, since he may get tangled up, preventing him from accessing his water bowl. Keep your toilet lid closed to interrupt your dog’s efforts to turn the bowl, which can be a source of bacteria, into a water fountain.