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Dehydration and Water Needs in Dogs

Dehydration is a lack of water in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to all living beings, including dogs, 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 diarrhea, 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 shin, 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.

Are Certain Dogs Prone to Dehydration?

Dogs most at risk for dehydration are those who suffer from various illnesses such as kidney disorders, cancer and infectious disease. Elderly dogs and pregnant or nursing dogs may be prone to dehydration, as well as diabetic dogs whose condition is not regularly monitored.

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.