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Health & Wellness

A Dehydrated Dog IS an Emergency

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We need to take this canine issue seriously. A dehydrated dog can die quickly if the correct steps are not taken immediately. Humans have the ability to consume water or juices and rehydrate relatively fast, with little side effects, but a dog is not as fortunate.

On very hot days a dog without water can reach a critical dehydration level in a matter of hours. Other causes include the dog is ill and not drinking enough water as well as heat exposure. The heat exposure is usually the result of a dog tied up in a yard with no shelter or shade, and the all too common practice of morons leaving their dog in a vehicle with the windows up on very hot days. Any one of these will lead to a dehydrated dog and an emergency situation.

Signs to look for if you suspect the dog is becoming dehydrated include constant panting even while at rest, the obvious lack of water for the dog to drink, the nose and tongue will be dry, his eyes will become dry, and the skin is going to become tight. A quick way to test the dog to be certain dehydration is the problem is placing a finger into the dog’s mouth. Gently rest the finger inside the mouth along the gums. Wait until this area becomes white and remove the finger. The white area is going to return to a normal color almost immediately if the dog is fine. If the white color remains for longer than a couple of seconds dehydration has set in. Immediately call your vet and explain the situation.

The steps to be taken immediately as you prepare to take the dog to his vet include providing a small amount of fresh, cool water. DO NOT allow the dog to drink large amounts of water as this often shocks the internal systems, and can induce vomiting. If the dog vomits he is going to lose even more fluids. Several small drinks spread out over a thirty minute period are best.

While you are allowing the dog to drink water soak two large towels in cold water and wrap one around his belly and the other is to go around the head and neck. By now you will be on your way to the vet. If the signs of dehydration lessen or go away completely continue to the vet. Have the dog examined to see if he is ok and if illness is the cause of the dehydration.

Never assume the dog is going to be ok when dealing with a dehydrated dog.

Has this information been helpful? Please leave comments below.

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  1. Avatar Of Karen Jackson

    Karen Jackson


    When wetting towels, be sure the water is not TOO cold. If it is, shivering will ensue. The purpose of shivering is to warm the body. In this instance the body is already too warm.

  2. Avatar Of Chloe



    Small or toy dogs need to be carefully watched for dehydration because of their size. It is much easier for this size of dogs to inadvertently experience dehydration. Be watchful.

  3. Avatar Of Riitta Uusi-Rajasalo

    riitta uusi-rajasalo


    This has to stop !!!

  4. Avatar Of Marcia



    is there a printer-friendly version of this available? I’d like to keep this on my fridge. But my dogs live in the lap of luxury and we drastically shorten our walks in extreme heat because they are both black. I’ve been known to water my neighbors’ dogs in extreme heat many times.

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