During the hot summer days, we are all susceptible to dehydration, including our pets. Dehydration is the lack of water in the body and it can cause serious health problems and even death in humans and pets alike. Water makes up 80% of dogs and cats bodies, and helps with circulation, digestion, waste removal and other body processes.
When fluid levels drop below normal, dehydration occurs. Dehydration is caused by a reduced fluid intake and/or an increased fluid loss. Fluid loss occurs due to overheating or illness in dogs and cats. And with the increased heat and humidity, dogs and cats overheat quickly when outdoors or in a location without air-conditioning, such a parked car or garage. Older, young and sick pets are more susceptible to overheating and dehydration; but any dog or cat can become overheated and dehydrated at any time, so it’s important to look for the signs during the hot summer months.
The typical signs of dehydration are:
- Fatigue or lack of desire to move
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken eyes
There is a simple at home test to do for dehydration. Gently lift up your pet’s skin on the back of their neck or between their shoulder blades. The skin should immediately return back to its normal position. If a pet is dehydrated, it will take longer to return to its normal position. This is not the only sign that a pet is dehydrated, and your pet may still be dehydrated even with passing this test. So if you notice any signs, you should consider your pet may be dehydrated.
If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, immediately take him or her to your veterinarian. It’s always best to call ahead and let them know you are coming so they can have everything ready for your arrival. The veterinarian will test for dehydration and administer intravenous fluids if dehydration has occurred.
To prevent pet dehydration, always provide plenty of fresh, clean water. You should refill your pets bowl with fresh water regularly and be sure to clean their water dish(es) every other day to kill any bacteria that may have developed in the dish. And when you and your pet go outside, be sure to bring water and a water dish with you and take plenty of water breaks.
A pet should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight a day, and more when exposed to heat or illness. Monitor your pet’s drinking habits and if you feel he or she is not drinking enough, consult with your veterinarian. There may be a medical reason why your dog or cat is not drinking as much as they should.
Dehydration is a dangerous thing for both humans and animals. But its prevention technique is simple: lots of fresh clean, water! I’ll see you around the drinking fountain!