Dehydration, the process of excessive water loss, can be a matter of life and death for a senior dog. Like humans, dogs need adequate fluids to help transport nutrients through their body; to keep the body cool; and to replace water lost to humidity. Since dehydration can be so bad for your dog, it is important to understand the essentials of dehydration, so that your pet can safely get through the dog days of summer.
Why do dogs dehydrate?
Dogs dehydrate at a much quicker rate than humans. In part, this is because dogs only have sweat glands on their nose and feet, so they cool at a much slower rate. And a dog's heavy coat slows down the cooling process and increases the risk of dehydration.
Symptoms of dehydration
There are a number of signs to look for. External symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, dry mouth, nose or gums, and sunken eyes. Behavioral symptoms include appetite loss and depression.
Testing for dehydration
You can test to see if your dog needs more fluids. Simply pinch a little of your dog's skin between your fingertips. When you release it, the skin should quickly fall back into place. If the skin falls back slowly, chances are your dog is dehydrated.
Tips to keep your dog hydrated
If you feel your dog has symptoms of dehydration, you can do a number of things to keep him cool.
Move him out of the sun and into a cooler environment.
Provide him with fresh clean water.
Make sure your dog doesn't drink the water too fast because it may cause vomiting, which will result in additional water loss.
If your dog refuses to drink water, you should check to see if anything is stuck in his mouth.
Finally, if for any reason your dog does become dehydrated, make sure that you visit a veterinarian after your dog has cooled down so that all necessary medical checks are made.