Puppy dehydration isn’t something you can take lightly. If left untreated, it can lead to really serious consequences.
With that, as a pet parent, it’s important that you know not just the signs of dehydration but the best ways to prevent it as well. This handy guide can provide you with everything you need to know about addressing dehydration in puppies.
What Causes Puppy Dehydration?
There are tons of reasons why puppy dehydration can happen. In most cases, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive fever are the culprits.
Your puppy can also experience dehydration if it has existing diabetes, kidney disease, bleeding problems or any condition that can make it reluctant to eat and drink.
Apart from those causes, puppies can also lose a lot of fluids in the summer months. The more time they spend outside playing games, the more they’re prone to getting dehydrated.
Now, this doesn’t mean that summer is the only season you need to watch your puppy’s hydration level. Winter can make them drink less water and that can lead to dehydration, too.
Signs of Puppy Dehydration
Knowing if your dog is experiencing dehydration isn’t that hard as long as you’re paying close attention to your pet. Unlike humans, your puppy has no way of telling you if it’s feeling unwell.
With that, make sure to check your puppy for the following signs:
One of the earliest signs of dehydration is dry mucous membranes. If your puppy’s gums and tongue are getting more sticky than wet and if its saliva is becoming stringy, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t have that much fluid in his body to keep it properly hydrated.
In checking your dog’s mouth, ensure that it’s not anxious or feeling agitated as that can also cause dry gums. Make your dog feel calm and relaxed before you open its mouth to check.
Loss of skin elasticity is another sign you should keep an eye out for, too.
The best part to check your puppy’s skin’s elastic recoil is to locate his scruff. It’s the loose skin located over your puppy’s shoulders.
Elevate that part and grasp the skin so that it raises about two to three inches. Release the scruff and see what happens.
Normally, a puppy’s skin will spring back quickly after you gently lift it. If your puppy’s skin is retracting slowly, it’s probably 7 to 8% dehydrated. If it reaches 10% dehydration, its skin will stay in a ridge position.
A slow capillary refill time can indicate dehydration as well. If you suspect that, gently press a finger against your puppy’s gums. If it takes no more than 2 seconds for the pigment to return, then you should stop worrying.
However, in the event that your puppy’s capillary refill time took longer than 4 seconds, it can indicate severe dehydration which can be dangerous for your pet.
Don’t think twice and don’t attempt to treat your puppy on your own. Take it to the nearest vet so that prompt and proper intervention can be made.
Treating Dehydration In Puppies
Since prompt treatment is necessary to ensure that the puppy stays safe, it’s important that you know exactly what you need to do in case dehydration is suspected. With that, here are some tips you’ll find handy:
With mild dehydration, getting your dog to drink at will can help it recuperate. It can take about an hour for a mildly dehydrated puppy to get back to its healthy state as long as vomiting isn’t an issue.
In addition to offering water, rehydration products can also be helpful. They don’t just restore fluids but they can also provide your dog’s lost minerals. You can talk to your vet about what products you can give to your puppy and how much. Remember, puppies have smaller bodies.
If vomiting and diarrhea are contributing to the dehydration, your puppy may be required to take specific medications. Such medicines will depend on the weight and age of your puppy so be sure to get your vet’s’ prescription.
For moderate to severe dehydration, prompt treatment is necessary to ensure that the puppy doesn’t experience any serious complications. Fluid therapy is imperative to rehydrate the dog and bring back its electrolyte balance to an acceptable level.
Your vet can teach you how to administer the fluid therapy to your puppy at home. It can be done either by inserting an intravenous catheter or giving subcutaneous fluid.
In extremely severe cases, dehydrated puppies need to be hospitalized so that they can be given IV fluids and electrolyte solutions over the next 24 to 48 hours. The amount of fluid that will be administered to a puppy will depend on how severe its dehydration is, its age and size, and overall health.
At the clinic, your puppy will be monitored closely. Its vital signs, particularly its blood pressure, will be measured regularly to determine the effects of the interventions. If it’s not showing good progress, your vet may take on a different approach to rehydrate your puppy.
Its urine output and weight will be routinely checked as well. These two criteria are closely linked to a dog’s hydration status.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Puppies
As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to not just watch what your puppy is eating but how much it’s drinking, too. Here are some of the best ways to prevent dehydration in dogs:
- Make sure that your puppy has clean water all the time. Change it frequently and clean your puppy’s bowl to ensure that it’s able to drink fresh water whenever it’s thirsty.
- If you are heading outdoors, bring an extra water. Don’t leave it too long under the sun, too.
- As much as possible, don’t chain your puppy outdoors. It can get tangled up which can prevent it from drinking water from its bowl. It might even cause choking.
- If you see your puppy not drinking as much as he needs to, you can add some broth to its water. In case that doesn’t work, consider asking your vet.
- Now, if your puppy is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or any other condition that can affect its hydration level, make sure to get it treated. The only way to stop or prevent dehydration is to remove or treat all of its causes.
Puppy dehydration is extremely common and that’s exactly why you need to be extra careful with your pet.
Making sure that your puppy has access to clean water all the time is one of the best ways to prevent dehydration from happening. And if you see signs that your puppy is already dehydrated, prompt intervention is necessary to ensure that nothing bad happens to your pet.
Don’t wait for complications to happen before you act. Take your dog to its vet as soon as you notice something wrong with it.
Kathryn Brown is a freelance writer. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and her pet Duke. When she’s not out exploring other countries, she spends most of her time teaching others how to work remotely while her pit bull, Annabelle, lounges alongside. She’s also an advocate for dogs like hers and aims to spread awareness everywhere she goes and make the pets feel included in the new world of technology.