Guest Author - Debra Kelly
Now that you're familiar with the signs of dehydration, what should you do if your dog starts to exhibit them?
The first thing to remember is that severe cases of dehydration can have deadly consequences. Especially if there are no obvious causes or if your dog's state seems to be getting progressively worse, seek a veterinarian's help immediately. In the worst cases, it can be necessary to get fluids back into your dog by IV in order to get her body to reabsorb what's necessary. Some severe cases of dehydration can be paired with diarrhea, vomiting, or even heat stroke; professional, medical attention is a must.
Sometimes, chronic illness will make regular IV drips a part of everyday treatment; in these cases, owners can easily be shown how to administer the drips at home and how to insert the needle under the dog's skin so they receive the most benefit.
If dehydration is mild and simply a result of running and playing too hard, home care can be sufficient to get enough fluids back into the dog. Take her inside into cooler temperatures, and get fluids into her as soon as possible. Some dogs will refuse to drink if they're dehydrated and not feeling well; in these cases, a syringe can be handy for forcing fluids into the dog's mouth. Small doses -- a few ml at a time -- will help more than giving your dog all she wants to drink at one time. This can cause vomiting, and make the problem even worse.
Instead of water, try giving your dog an electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. These liquids act the same way for a dog that they do with a human; much-needed fluids will be absorbed more quickly into the body than water will be.
Keeping fresh water available at all times is key to preventing dehydration. A rule of thumb for how much water your dog should be drinking is one ounce for each pound of body weight. That's just a guideline, however, and things like illness, warm weather or strenuous activity can raise that requirement. In addition to always giving them access to fresh water, be sure to wash out their bowls on a regular basis. Unclean dogs bowls are a breeding ground for bacteria and algae, and can make your dog sick. For those who like to go hiking or on long walks and runs, one of the best investments you can make is a collapsible water dish and bottle for you pup to make sure he stays healthy and happy.