Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dogs get thirsty, too


A panting dog is a hot dog: how to keep your dog hydrated

Keeping your dog hydrated is always important, but it is especially critical during the hot summer months.

Dog dehydration can be caused by health conditions, heat exposure, or simply a lack of a readily available water supply. Dehydration in dogs needs to be taken seriously, left untreated, can cause multiple health problems including organ failure and death.

It doesn't take long for a dog to become dehydrated, fortunately it's easy to prevent. Dehydration is an excess loss of bodily fluids. It most often involves the loss of water and minerals such as sodium, chloride, and potassium; collectively called electrolytes. Dehydration in dogs can be caused by illness (especially if the dog has a fever), exposure to extreme heat, and a number of other factors.

A dog’s natural act of panting causes a loss of fluids and can result in dehydration if they are not replaced. Remember that dogs lack sweat glands to keep them cool. They pant in an effort to regulate their body temperature. A panting dog is a hot dog.

Preventing Dog Dehydration:

-On hot, dry days keep dogs indoors as much as possible
-Provide a constant supply of fresh water for your dog
-Keep multiple bowls of water around the house and/or yard
-Make sure the water bowls can't be tipped over
-Consider using kiddie pools, sprinklers and running hoses to cool your dog when outside on hot days
-Make sure your dog has shaded areas to rest under when outdoors

Signs of a dehydrated dog:

-Lack of elasticity to the skin
-Dry and sunken eyes
-A dry mouth and nose
-A delay in capillary refill time. (To test for this, pull the dog's lip away from its gum (gently) and press a finger against the gum until the area whitens. Release your finger and the color should return to the area almost immediately. A delay could be an indication of dehydration)

Treating a Dehydrated Dog

If you suspect dog dehydration, get it some water immediately and then get it to the veterinarian. Lots of water is the best way to replace fluids, but a severely dehydrated dog should not be allowed to take in large amounts at once. This will result in vomiting and a further loss of fluids. Instead let the dog drink small amounts over a period of time.

Electrolytes can be replaced with a hydrating solution. Pedialyte, a water and electrolyte product sold for infants is suitable for dogs as well. Of course any dog that seems dehydrated or refuses to drink should be seen by a vet to determine appropriate treatment and whether the dehydration is a symptom of some other ailment.

As always, please consult your Vet if you have concerns with your dog’s health.


Jo Tallchief said...

Good tips! I'm going to do this for the stray dogs that come around my house - I've got 2 full time strays and 2 part-timers. The kiddie pool is a good idea because they won't drag it away ... probably. I'm sure I can find something that will do at Target. Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

No matter how the economy has affected our family budgets--water is FREE - and there is NO excuse for not watering our pets.

Dehydration is the number one health problem at Red Lake- believe it or not.


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