We all know the warning signs of dehydration to look for in humans, nagging headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded. But do you know the signs of dehydration in your dog? It is not the same as with humans and since they don’t speak in a way we can understand, it may be hard to know if your dog is meeting their specific hydration needs. It can affect any dog breed, age, and size so we want to help you to be able to notice the signs before it becomes a serious issue.

The following are the most common signs and can develop quickly, during any time of year or weather, but are more prevalent in warmer weather and climates. 

  • Loose skin when lightly pulled away from their body
  • Very light pink to white gums
  • Vomiting without diarrhea
  • NO appetite
  • The appearance of sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Heavily panting

What can you do to help your dog?

If you are concerned your dog is dehydrated, before anything else, try to get your dog to drink water. If they are unwilling or unable to drink water, try to put a few drops on their tongue to remind them to drink. If they are still unable to take in water, contact your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately so they can administer fluids intravenously. This is the quickest way to reverse the dehydration because the fluids go directly into the body and bypass the digestive tract, the same as with humans. 

If your dog is able to take in water, make sure to keep an eye on them and their behavior for any signs of dehydration. Heat exhaustion and dehydration will most often occur during the heat of the summer months, even during a short period of play outside on a hot day so make sure you and your dog take frequent water breaks to stay hydrated. If your dog is usually kept outside, think about bringing them in on days that are very warm, or invest in a small kiddie pool and provide ample shade for them to get out of the direct heat of the day. These little investments will not only give your dog a way to cool off and play but also just might save their life.

With summer on the horizon, it is important to also remind pet owners to NEVER leave their dog unattended in a car during extreme heat or cold. It doesn’t take very long for extreme weather to take the life of a pet.