Dehydration in Dogs in Park Ridge, NJ: What to Look Out For
Dehydration happens in dogs when their bodies have expended more water than they’ve consumed. Every animal requires water to stay alive and it is essential to a properly functioning body. Water is crucial to joints, internal organs, digestion and regulating body temperature. Without enough water, the cells in a dog’s body cannot properly absorb nutrients.
The amount of water in a dog’s body fluctuates throughout the day. Playing, panting, breathing, sweating through the pads of his feet, and going to the bathroom are all ways of expending fluid. As he loses liquid, he makes up for it by eating and drinking. It’s highly important that your dog has a generous supply of fresh drinking water at all times do counteract his expenditure of water.
Why Hydration is Important for Your Dog
If your dog is playing vigorously or outside on a hot day, he is more susceptible to dehydration. If his body starts to run out of water, his blood flow slows down and his organs and tissue don’t get enough oxygen.
Dehydration can also cause him to lose electrolytes like sodium, chlorine and potassium. Without these important minerals, his body may have a hard time properly metabolizing food, balancing his body’s pH, and regulating muscle and nerve function.
In extreme cases, dehydration can cause organ damage, or even death. Although he can’t talk, there are many ways his body and behavior communicate when he’s feeling dehydrated.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs
There are several signs that your dog might be dehydrated and we’ll go over them here. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure you get your dog some water and in severe cases, contact your veterinarian.
If a dog is properly hydrated, you should be able to use your thumb and forefinger to pinch a piece of skin on the back or top of his head and have it bounce right back into place.
As he begins to expel moisture, the skin slowly returns to form and in cases of more extreme dehydration, the skin might not even spring back at all. This loss of elasticity is called a “skin tent.” This test is a little harder to conduct in older or obese dogs, or breeds with a lot of folds in their skin such as Pugs or Shar-Peis.
While it’s perfectly normal for your dog to pant when he’s excited about something or playing, pay close attention to the way he’s panting and if it’s accompanied by other behaviors. If his pupils are dilated, or he starts to seem lethargic, it’s important to get him some water immediately and monitor his symptoms.
If a dog is starting to get dehydrated, this may result in him feeling dizzy and nauseous. You might not notice he’s feeling out of sorts right away, but he might throw up as a result of the loss of fluid. Vomiting on its own is not indicative of dehydration, but if he’s been outside on a hot day or playing strenuously, this could be an indicator of dehydration and it’s imperative to get him some cool water immediately.
A dog that’s starting to feel dehydrated might have a runny stool or diarrhea. This is his body’s involuntary reaction to not having enough fluids and he should be given water right away.
When a dog is properly hydrated, his urine should be light in color and highly transparent. As his body runs out of fluids, his urine gets more concentrated and gets darker. If you notice that your dog’s urine looks dark or different than usual, make sure he gets water, and pay attention to the appearance of his urine.
If his urine still seems abnormal even after he’s been sufficiently hydrated, this could be the sign of something like a urinary tract infection or kidney issue. Your vet will want to collect a sample to run a urinalysis to determine the reason or reasons behind the change in the appearance of his urine.
Changes to Behavior
A dog that is getting dehydrated may start acting confused or disoriented. He may also become lethargic or fatigued. If you notice your dog behaving out of the ordinary, give him plenty of water and pay close attention to the way he acts in the next few hours.
If his behavior doesn’t improve, your vet may want to give him fluids and check to see if there is anything else causing the change.
Causes of Dehydration in Dogs
Now that you know what to look for, here are some of the most common causes of dehydration in dogs.
While vomiting can be a symptom of dehydration, it can also be a cause. Sometimes when a dog eats something he shouldn’t have or has something else going on which results in him throwing up, it can lead to dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting, it’s important to make sure he has plenty of fluids and wet dog food if possible.
Dogs are more prone to dehydration because of their thick skin and fur coats. Their body temperature can rise quickly on a hot day or inside a hot car or home. It’s important never to leave your dog in a car or home without the same level of air conditioning you would feel comfortable in and to bring him indoors on particularly hot days.
Changes to Health
Older dogs are at a higher risk of dehydration because their bodies aren’t as efficient as they once were and they made need more water than they before in order to keep everything functioning properly.
Mother dogs that are pregnant or nursing are also more susceptible to hydration because their bodies are expending so much fluid providing nutrition for their offspring. Long term ailments such as kidney disease or cancer can also lead to dehydration, as the dog’s natural ability to maintain hydration is compromised.
Small breeds, like Chihuahuas are more prone to dehydration because their little bodies are already working so hard to keep everything regulated. On top of that, due to their size, they simply can’t retain as much fluid as a larger dog.
All sorts of things can cause a dog to be dehydrated and the presentation of symptoms varies widely. As a rule, always make sure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water. If you take him for a walk, be sure to bring water for him too.
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