The Importance of keeping your dog hydrated

Keeping a dog hydrated is critically important.

You can rest assured that whilst in our care, from entering to departure, every dog will have access to fresh water served in meticulously cleaned water bowls. But away from the kennel environment, it might be helpful to know a little more basic information about how to avoid your dog getting dehydrated.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration is a lack of water in the body and can cause serious complications for pets who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health. It makes up 80 percent of your dog’s body, and dissolves natural and unnatural substances as well as serves as the root of all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal.

What Causes Dehydration in Dogs?

Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop to less than normal. This is due to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Fluid loss can be due to overheating in hot weather or a bout of vomiting or diarrhoea, especially in puppies.

What Are the General Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs?

  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Dehydrated?

Dehydration may indicate a serious underlying problem. If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, take him to a veterinarian immediately. You may be able to detect dehydration at home by gently lifting the skin on the back of your dog’s neck or between the shoulder blades—unless your dog is seriously overweight or very thin, it should immediately return to a normal position. If he is lacking in fluids, the lifted skin may not quickly return to normal. Often, however, the signs of dehydration are not obvious, and only a veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.

How Is Dehydration Treated?

A veterinarian will administer intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, and run additional tests, if necessary, to determine the underlying cause of the condition.

Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, a dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice. Monitoring water intake is especially important if he’s recovering from diarrhoea, vomiting or other illnesses.

Helpful Tips on Ensuring the Right Amount of Water Intake

How much a dog’s daily water intake should be, depends on various factors:

  • Size: advice differs, but on average, a healthy dog may require between 50ml and 100ml weight per KG bodyweight. Provide a water fountain, these continuously circulate the water keeping it fresh, appetising and prevent bacteria from forming
  • Food: A healthy diet is as important as water and the type of food your dog eats affects their water intake. Dogs that eat only dry food will need more water than those that eat wet food. Also avoid ingredients that can artificially increase your dog’s thirst, such as sodium (salt). Consider replacing some of your dog’s dry food with wet dog food which contains more moisture. Alternatively, you can add water to your dog’s dry food and let it soak a few minutes before offering it to him. Consider adding a small amount of low sodium chicken or beef broth to your dog’s water bowl to entice him to drink more. You can also freeze broth into ice cube and add them to the water that way.
  • Age: Puppies need to be closely monitored and senior dogs tend to naturally monitor themselves. Always ensure the water bowl is full to the top, this gives you some indication of how much water has been consumed.
  • Exercise: Take water along on any exercise outing with your dog. After exercise monitor the amount your dog drinks, a little and often is good and this helps to prevent the risk of bloat.
  • Weather: Summer means more panting, which means an increase in water intake.
  • Medications: Some drugs increase a dog’s thirst. Check with your vet to understand if you need to increase or decrease your dog’s water intake while taking medication.
  • Behaviour: If you notice your pet is drinking less than usual, check his mouth for sores or other foreign objects, such as burrs or sticks. Other possible signs of dehydration include: constipation, brick coloured mucous membranes (gums) or a change of colour in urine and faeces (orange colour).
  • Environment: Avoid chaining a dog outside, since he may get tangled up, preventing him from accessing his water bowl. Keep your toilet lid closed to avoid it being used as a bacteria infested drinking bowl.

and never ever leave your dog alone in a car on a hot day – temperatures can reach as high as 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes. They can quickly become dehydrated or suffer from heat stroke, even if the windows are left open.

If a dog cannot sufficiently cool down by panting, they can develop heatstroke-induced organ failure which can be fatal.

In the UK, it is not illegal to leave your dog in a car, but if they suffer or die as a result of being left in a hot car, owners can be prosecuted for neglect or animal cruelty under The Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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