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Signs of Dehydration in Dogs: What Can You Do?

Have you ever wondered what the signs of dehydration in dogs are?

You should!

Responsible pet ownership is more than providing food and shelter for your Fluffy Friend.

It also involves understanding their health needs and recognising when something is wrong.

One critical aspect of canine health that often goes overlooked is dehydration.

In this guide, expect the following (click the links below to go to that specific section):

signs of dehydration in dogs

Understanding Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration occurs when your furry friend loses more fluids than they take in.

This disrupts the balance of water and electrolytes in your dog's body.

Some of the factors that may contribute to dehydration in dogs are:

  • insufficient fluid intake
  • hot weather 
  • kidney disease
  • severe bouts of vomiting
  • diarrhoea

Dogs are more prone to dehydration due to their smaller size and higher body temperature than humans.

Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

signs of dehydration in dogs

Various factors cause dog dehydration.

This can range from environmental conditions to underlying health issues.

Here are some common causes:

  1. Inadequate Water Intake:

The most straightforward cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water.

This can happen if your dog doesn't have access to clean water or if they refuse to drink for some reason.

  1. Hot Weather:

Dogs can become dehydrated due to high temperatures.

This happens if they engage in physical activities like exercise or play.

Excessive panting and sweating may also lead to fluid loss.

  1. Illness or Injury:

Dogs with gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease, or fever may experience increased fluid loss.

This may be due to persistent vomiting, diarrhoea, or elevated body temperature.

Injuries that cause bleeding can also lead to dehydration.

  1. Diabetes:

Dogs with diabetes may experience dehydration due to increased urination caused by elevated blood sugar levels.

This can lead to a loss of both water and essential electrolytes.

  1. Medication Side Effects:

Some medications or treatments may have side effects that increase urination or fluid loss.

It's essential to check your dog's hydration levels on any medication prescribed by a vet.

  1. Senior Dogs:

Older dogs are more susceptible to dehydration due to age-related changes in their bodies.

They may be experiencing kidney failure and reduced thirst response.

They may need closer monitoring and encouragement to drink enough fluids.

  1. Heat Stroke:

In extreme cases, prolonged exposure to high temperatures without enough water can lead to heat stroke.

This is a life-threatening condition characterized by severely elevated body temperature and dehydration.

It's essential to be vigilant about your dog's hydration status, especially on a hot day or if they are showing signs of illness. 

Related: Dog’s Head Shakes and Ears Itch: Should You Worry?

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Recognising the signs of dehydration in dogs is needed for timely intervention. 

Physical Signs to Look For

signs of dehydration in dogs
  1. Dry Gums and Nose:

Healthy dogs typically have moist gums and noses.

Dryness in these areas can indicate dehydration.

To check, gently press your finger against your dog's gums.

They should quickly return to their original position if your dog is hydrated.

Also, check if your pup has a dry nose, this can mean dehydration.

  1. Sunken Eyes:

Dehydration can cause the eyes to appear sunken due to the loss of fluids in the body.

This sign is particularly noticeable in severe cases and may need immediate medical attention.

  1. Loss of Skin Elasticity:

Skin elasticity is a good indicator of hydration levels in dogs.

In a hydrated dog, the skin should quickly return to its original position after being gently pinched.

Yet, when your dog's skin takes longer to return to its normal state, this may mean a lack of fluids.

Behavioural Signs

  1. Lethargy:

Dehydrated dogs often appear lethargic or listless, lacking their usual energy and enthusiasm.

They may seem uninterested in activities they enjoy.

They may also spend more time resting or lying down.

  1. Excessive Panting:

While panting is a normal way for dogs to regulate their body temperature, excessive panting can be a sign of dehydration.

Check if there are other symptoms such as dry mouth and sunken eyes.

  1. Loss of Appetite and Thirst:

A noticeable decrease in appetite and thirst can suggest dehydration.

Dogs may refuse food and water or show little interest in eating or drinking, even when offered.

Recognising Dehydration in Different Breeds

Different dog breeds may exhibit dehydration differently.

For example, brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses) such as Bulldogs and Pugs may be more susceptible to overheating and dehydration due to their anatomy.

Additionally, breeds with thick coats may struggle more in hot weather.

This can increase their risk of dehydration.

Understanding how your dog's breed may influence their susceptibility to dehydration can help you better recognise and address the signs.

What to Do if You Suspect Dehydration

If you suspect dehydration, take immediate action to prevent further complications.

Immediate Steps to Take

  1. Offer Fresh Water:

Give your pooch a bowl of clean, fresh water.

Encourage them to drink by placing the water bowl within their reach.

  1. Provide Shade and a Cool Environment:

Move your dog to a shaded area and ensure they have access to a cool environment, especially on hot days.

You can also use air conditioning and fans to help lower their body temperature.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

signs of dehydration in dogs
  1. Severity of Dehydration:

If your dog shows severe signs of dehydration like lethargy, sunken eyes, or loss of elasticity of the skin, seek veterinary care immediately.

Severe dehydration can quickly become life-threatening and requires prompt medical attention.

  1. Underlying Health Conditions:

If your dog has underlying health conditions such as kidney disease or gastrointestinal issues, they may be more susceptible to dehydration.

In these cases, consult with your veterinarian for appropriate treatment and management.

Tips for Prevention

Dehydration can often be prevented with proactive measures:

  • Ensure your dog has an ample supply of clean drinking water at all times.
  • During hot weather or vigorous exercise, provide extra amounts of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Track your dog's water intake and encourage them to drink if you notice they're drinking less than usual.
  • Avoid leaving your dog in hot cars. Don’t expose them to extreme heat for long periods.

Related: Dog Feeding 101: Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

Treatment Options for Dehydrated Dogs

Treatment for dehydration in dogs involves a rehydration process.

Fluid Therapy

signs of dehydration in dogs

In severe cases of dehydration, intravenous fluids can help replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.

This is especially important if your dog is unable to drink or is experiencing severe vomiting or diarrhoea.

Oral Rehydration Solutions

For mild to moderate dehydration, oral rehydration solutions can help restore electrolyte balance and encourage fluid intake.

These solutions are available commercially or can be prepared at home under veterinary guidance.

Monitoring and Follow-Up Care

After initial treatment, the only way to ensure complete rehabilitation is to check your dog's condition closely.

Ensure they continue to drink and eat normally.

Your vet may recommend follow-up appointments to assess your dog's hydration status.

They may make any necessary adjustments to their treatment plan.

Related: Pet First Aid: What You Should Know

Go back to the top

signs of dehydration in dogs


Recognising the signs of dehydration in dogs and taking prompt action is crucial.

By understanding the various physical and behavioural signs of dehydration, as well as the importance of immediate intervention and preventive measures, you can help ensure that your furry friend stays happy and hydrated.

Remember, as responsible pet owners, we must focus on our dog's health and provide them with the care and attention they deserve.

Looking for some products that could help you out? 

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Here are some useful products in relation to this blog post:

MrFluffyFriend - Ultimate Cooling Mat for Pets

MrFluffyFriend - Adjustable Dog Bowls

MrFluffyFriend - Hygienic Water Dispenser

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