What To Do When Your Dog Gets Dehydrated

Your dog can die from dehydration. Please understand how serious this can get when a dog gets dehydrated. It’s not like when humans get dehydrated, can drink some water and cool off, and they will recover quickly. It is much harder for a dog to recover.

Caused by sickness, heat exposure, or lack of water intake, the situation must be taken care of immediately. If the dehydration lasts for too long, your dog’s organs can start failing and he will die.

black labrador retriever puppy biting purple and white ball
Image credit: Rafael Ishkhanyan | Unsplash

Unfortunately, it is much easier for a dog to become dehydrated than it is for humans. But, luckily, it is also very easy to prevent it from happening. To be able to prevent dehydration, it is important to understand how and why it occurs in dogs.

Dehydration occurs after an extreme loss of bodily fluids. The essential minerals called electrolytes are depleted from the body. Dogs do not have sweat glands to cool them off like humans do. To relieve themselves from heat, they pant to regulate their body temperature. But the process of panting results in a rapid loss of bodily fluids, which will result in dehydration if the electrolytes do not get replaced.

Dehydration will not occur if your dog always has access to a fresh supply of water. If you keep your dog indoors, make sure that there is always at least one large bowl of water. If you live in a large home, consider placing two or three bowls of water in other areas of the house. During hot and humid summer months, try to keep your dog indoors as much as possible. If you keep your dog outside during warm temperatures, ensure that he has access to not only a constant supply of water, but also shady areas in which to rest.

If you think that your dog is dehydrated, you can check for certain symptoms. The skin will become tight, the eyes will dry out, and the tongue and nose will be dry. If your dog is dehydrated, he will also have problems with the circulatory system. To rest for this, push your finger into its gums until the area under your finger turns white. If the color does not quickly return to normal, a delay is a sign of fluid loss.

person holding red and white labeled cup
Image credit: Daniel Lincoln | Unsplash

Once you determine that your dog is probably dehydrated, you need to cool him off and start replenishing fluids. Then immediately take him to the vet. Start by wrapping him in a cool, wet towel. The prime areas you want to cool off are the head and the underbelly, which is the best place to access the internal organs. Do not give the dog too much water. A severely dehydrated dog will start vomiting after a large amount of water intake. This will cause more fluid loss and make the situation even worse.

Even if your dog recovers from the dehydration and stops showing any symptoms, you need to take him to a vet as soon as possible to determine the exact cause of the dehydration. Even though most cases are caused by heat and fluid loss, it can also be a result of a larger illness. So the vet needs to do a full check-up to make sure he will stay in good health.


  • Nicollette Dial

    Nicollette Dial is a freelance author who has worked in the pet care industry for many years. With a deep understanding of dog behavior and a commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership, the author shares insightful tips and engaging stories to enrich the lives of both dogs and their owners.

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