Dehydration

dog-panting

Dehydration


** IMPORTANT NOTE **
.
THIS BLOG HAS BEEN AMENDED
WITHIN 3 DAYS OF IT’S ORIGINAL POSTING.
.
EXTRA INFORMATION CAME TO LIGHT WHICH AFFECTED
THE ADVICE WITHIN THE BLOG AND THIS HAS NOW
BEEN ALTERED TO REFLECT THOSE CHANGES. 
.
THANK YOU
.
Just as with humans, dehydration is very dangerous for your dog.  It could be due to a number of things including kidney failure, vomiting/diarrhoea, extreme high temperatures, or even just the fact that you haven’t left him enough to drink.  It is good practice to ensure that there is always a clean, cool, water supply available to your dog – 24/7.
.
Some signs could direct you other illnesses including kidney failure, liver disease, adrenal or pituitary gland malfunctions or diabetes, but there are several pointers that could indicate your dog is dehydrated.  For example, when dehydrated he will naturally try to conserve as much fluid as he possibly can and in order for this to be successful, the amount of urine he passes will decrease markedly and the colour and viscosity of the urine itself will change.
.
Signs To Look Out For:
Excessive drinking
Eyes appear sunken and lack moisture
Excessive panting
Reduction in urination
Dark, deep golden coloured urine
Sticky viscosity to the texture of the urine
Listless/lethargic demeanour
Change in attitude – hesitant behaviour
Delayed action and elasticity of skin on the neck/back
.
So, if you think that your dog may be dehydrated, there are a couple of really easy things you can do to test your theory.
.
How To Check:
Simply touch your dog’s nose.  How does it feel?  A dog’s nose should generally be cold and wet.  If the nose feels dry or warm to you, then he could be mildly dehydrated.

Next, we need to see what the gums themselves feel like.  If your dog is anything like mine, you’ll know they produce a fair amount of saliva and EVERYTHING in that mouth is usually pretty soggy.  If the gums feel dry and/or sticky when you touch them with your finger, then your dog needs a drink to replenish his fluids.

Still thinking about the gums, we need to check to see how long it takes for the colour to return after you press your finger firmly on the gum line.  When you remove your finger there will be a pale mark where your finger was but this should quickly (instantly) return to the natural pink colour.  The longer it takes to return to pink, the more poorly your dog is.

To test if the skin isn’t as elastic as it should be, try pinching a small amount of skin at the scruff between your thumb and forefinger.  When you let go, the skin should nicely return to its normal position.  If the skin takes longer to return than you would normally expect, or even does not return at all, then this is a clear sign.

If you have a rectal thermometer you can take his temperature.  A temperature of above 105° F is very serious.

Sometimes if they are really quite dehydrated, a drink alone is not enough for your dog.  If this is the case, then giving them a few spoonfuls of electrolyte replacement medication will help no end.  Products such as Dioralyte that you may use on holiday if you’ve had a touch of tummy upset will do the trick for us humans, but as with so many things these days, it contains Xylitol as it’s sweetening agent.  Many vets are still recommending it’s use, unaware that there is Xylitol in the ingredients (as I was myself until this was pointed out to me only VERY recently).  Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and as such, over the counter medications like Dioralyte should not be given to your dog.

There are specific animal versions that are safe to use such as Lectade

Lectade Small Animal Rehydration Salts
Lectade Small Animal Rehydration Salts

Another good one, recommended to me by friends who run sled dogs up in Scotland with great results can be found at this link: http://www.culpeppers.co.uk/catalogue/?cat=misc

Culpeppers Hydrolyte
Culpeppers Hydrolyte

Please remember that if your dog has not drunk for a long period, then re-hydration must start slowly with a few sips every minute or so.  Should he drink too much too quickly, it will likely lead to vomiting.  When you vomit, you lose fluids which is the absolute opposite of what we are trying to achieve.

If he has gone a long time without drinking, then it can be a kinder process to re-hydrate him by allowing him to lick ice cubes.  Hold them individually in your hand and allow him to gently lick at the surface, controlling how vigorously and for how long he licks.

If you cannot get your dog to drink, then please seek immediate advice from your vet.