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What is Dehydration?

When the water level in the body is insufficient, the body compensates by drawing water out of its cells. This results in a loss of electrolytes, such as potassium, chloride, and sodium, and can affect many of the body’s systems, including muscle function. Severe dehydration can cause illness, and can eventually lead to death if left untreated. Treatment can be as simple as giving your dog access to clean water, or undergoing fluid therapy in a clinic, and is often successful if caught in time.

Dehydration is a loss of water that is beyond what the body takes in, causing the water level in a dog’s body to drop below normal. There are many ways a dog can lose water from his body, such as panting, vomiting, fever, and a decreased intake of water or food. Often, an underlying condition or illness will cause the dog to lose his appetite, thirst or energy level, which then leads to a state of dehydration.

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Dehydration Average Cost

From 465 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Symptoms that your dog may be dehydrated include:

  • Panting excessively
  • Fast breathing that is short and staccato-like
  • Dry nose, mouth, and gums
  • Sticky mucous membranes
  • Tired and sluggish appearance
  • Slowed activity level and responses
  • Apprehensive behavior
  • Dulled mental activity
  • Altered consciousness level
  • Sunken or dry eyes
  • Dull corneas
  • Lack of skin elasticity
  • White gums that linger when pressed
  • Loss of balance
  • Wobbly walk
  • Weak rear end
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weak pulse
  • Heart rate above 140
  • Decrease in urine output
  • Dark urine
  • Increase in urine odor
  • Hypovolemic shock, or shock occurring from fluid loss
  • Hypotension
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Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration is caused by:

  • Decrease or lack of food intake
  • Decrease or lack of water intake
  • Excessive panting or breathing
  • Elimination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Perspiration through paws and other body areas
  • Illness, such as kidney disease, diabetes and some cancers
  • Injury, such as burns
  • Overheating

Some dogs that are more prone to dehydration include:

  • Young dogs
  • Small breeds, such as Chihuahuas
  • Older dogs
  • Nursing dogs
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Diagnosis of Dehydration in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from dehydration, use the skin test. Skin becomes less elastic when moisture levels are low. By lifting a small piece of skin on your dog’s back, you can test its elasticity. When released, if the skin falls back slowly into place, instead of snapping back within 1-2 seconds, then your dog may be dehydrated. Another test is to press a finger to your dog’s gums until that area turns white. When released, that area should turn right back to pink. If it takes longer, your dog may be suffering from dehydration.

At your veterinary clinic, a thorough exam may help to determine if your dog is truly dehydrated. Your veterinarian will also determine if there is an underlying condition causing your pet to avoid food or water intake, or the dehydration itself. Be sure to tell your veterinary caregiver of any symptoms that you have noticed, as well as any other odd or different behaviors. Blood samples may be taken and tested. A urinalysis may be done to determine the effect of the dehydration on the kidneys. Other tests may be used that are specific to a suspected condition that may be at fault, and can range from X-rays and CT scans, to tissue and fluid samples.

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Treatment of Dehydration in Dogs

The main treatment for dehydration is to give your dog the fluids he needs. First, your veterinarian will calculate how much fluid your dog has lost in order to prescribe the appropriate amount of fluid therapy.

Mild dehydration can be treated with access to clean water, and your dog will often drink on his own. But acute moderate to severe dehydration can debilitate your dog, and he may not be able to easily drink on his own.

Fluid therapy is generally administered slowly through injection, either subcutaneously or intravenously. An IV is the most efficient method to rehydrate. This will need to be done in a clinic with a catheter, and is closely monitored. Fluid taken in too quickly can have negative results.

Dehydration left untreated can cause shock, illness, and can even result in death. If an underlying condition or illness has been found that has contributed to the dehydration, a treatment plan will be constructed with your veterinarian that is appropriate to that condition.

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Recovery of Dehydration in Dogs

Recovery of dehydration has a good prognosis if treated soon enough. If you notice signs of dehydration in your dog, slowly give him water with electrolytes to drink.  If he can’t hold any water down, give him some ice to lick. If he stops drinking altogether, contact your veterinarian right away. To prevent dehydration in your dog, be sure that there is always available water for your dog to drink. Prevent your dog from drinking too much all at once after exercise. And be aware of the signs of dehydration, and your dog’s behavior.

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Dehydration Average Cost

From 465 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Dehydration Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

goblin

dog-breed-icon

philippine

dog-age-icon

9 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Appetite
Vomitting
Weakness

lately, when we got home with my husband we've caught our dog (Goblin) eating a plastic in our trash can. and now he's been suffering of it. i didn't know what am i going to do. he can't walk often. he always vomitting and moaning. and i thought it is because what he ate from garbage. he dont want to eat. what should i do in this kind of situation? I really dont know what am i going to do? maybe it his last day.

April 12, 2018

goblin's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Goblin may well have eaten something in the garbage that caused a blockage, or an intestinal infection. From your description, he is in immediate need of veterinary care - they will be able to assess him, determine what might be going on, and offer care for him. It sounds like he is in a lot of pain, and letting him die at home would not be a kind way for him to have to go.

April 12, 2018

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dog-name-icon

Benji

dog-breed-icon

Labrador

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Appetite

My puppy hasn’t been drinking any water we took him to the vet and they noticed he was dehydrated he has been there for 2 days now with IV to help get him hydrated how long is recovery ? He still looks very down and still rarely eating food vet technicians told me he’s been resting and sleeping these past two days will my pupp recover soon ?

April 4, 2018

Benji's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without knowing why Benji is dehydrated, or what is wrong with him, I'm not sure what his expected recovery might be. It would be best to contact your veterinarian to ask what to expect, as they have seen him and know more what is going on with him.

April 5, 2018

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Dehydration Average Cost

From 465 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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