Dehydration And Your Dog

Dogs always need access to clean fresh water. Without adequate water, your dog may become dehydrated. Dehydration simply means that your dog has lost more water than he is able to ingest. 

There are several reasons for dehydration in dogs, such as loss of fluids due to vomting and diarrhea secondary to a gastrointestinal upset or excess prespiration through primarily through the pads of his feet due to exertion in hot weather. Sometimes, illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease could be the underlying cause.

Also, older dogs, very young dogs or small dogs, or pregnant dogs are more at risk for dehydration.

How do you know if your dog is dehydrated? Here are some signs and symptoms:



Lack of appetite

Dark urine

Dry nose, mouth or gums

Sunken eyes


If the dehydration is mild, you might be able to simply give your dog water and he will recover. But if the symptoms are severe or are progressing, they can lead to shock, collapse and death.

Here’s a good test for dehydration that is simple to do: pinch their skin between your fingers and then let go. The skin should immediately snap back into place within one or two seconds. If it does, all is well. But if the skin retains the shape that you pinched it into or it slowly sags back into place, this likely means your dog is dehydrated. 

If your dog is showing signs of more than just mild dehydration, call your vet immediately for advice or take him to be seen. Your dog will likely need intravenous fluids to reverse this potentially deadly condition.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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