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How to treat dehydration in dogs at home

Golden Labrador lying down on the floor advice

Always make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh drinking water.

© Shutterstock

There are plenty of ways and tricks to get your dog to drink more if they become dehydrated.

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS

Updated on the 19/11/2020, 19:40

Your dog can become dehydrated if they are not taking on enough liquid, or if they are losing more than usual. The normal range for water intake can vary significantly depending on your pet’s diet and activity levels. But your dog will need around 20-70ml of water per kg each day. During warmer weather, your dog’s water requirement is likely to increase and they may need their water bowl refilled more regularly.

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You may suspect that your dog has become dehydrated for a specific reason – it’s a hot day, or they are losing fluid due to vomiting and diarrhoea. If this is the case, but your pet is otherwise bright and well, you can follow the advice in this article to tempt them to take on more fluid. Yet if they are showing physical symptoms of dehydration or heat stroke you should contact a vet for advice as they may need intravenous fluids and other veterinary treatment.

What are the signs of dehydration in dogs?

There are a range of signs that suggest your dog may be dehydrated. Yet many of these are non-specific and could suggest another underlying illness. If your dog has slightly tacky gums or is panting more than usual but is otherwise well, you can try home remedies. But if there is no improvement or they are showing any other symptoms of dehydration, you should seek veterinary advice. Other signs of dehydration can include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of skin elasticity.
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How can I treat dehydration in a dog at home?

If you suspect mild dehydration in your dog, you can try to encourage your pet to take on more fluids. You might be able to tempt your pet to drink with some oral rehydration fluids, which are often meaty-flavoured. An alternative is to add a small amount of dog gravy to their water – but take care as these can be very salty. Do not try to syringe water into your pet’s mouth unless a vet advises this. It can result in a head-shy pet who could become difficult to medicate.

Your dog must always have access to plenty of potable water. Some pets prefer not to share bowls with others, so it is best to ensure there are a few options on offer around the house for easy access. Some pooches actually prefer drinking from a water-fountain rather than a bowl. (other dehyd or sunburn link? or both?)

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How do you rehydrate a dog with diarrhoea?

If your pet has diarrhoea, ensure that they have access to more water than usual to help them replenish their fluid losses. Oral rehydration fluids can also be a good option. But if your pet is showing other symptoms, such as lethargy or inappetence, this may not be sufficient and they may need to be admitted for IV fluids and you’ll need to contact a vet.

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How do you treat a dehydrated puppy?

Never try to treat a dehydrated puppy yourself. Puppies are particularly susceptible to severe dehydration and can go downhill much more rapidly than an adult dog, so you must contact a vet.

What home remedy is good for dehydration in dogs?

If your pet is showing physical symptoms of dehydration, they probably need veterinary attention. Having said that, there are some possible home remedies that can help treat mild cases. Oral rehydration fluids or dog gravy can be suitable options and you could also consider getting a water fountain for your pet. Other options include offering your pet the cooking liquid from boiling plain chicken or fish, or adding liquid to their regular diet.

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Avoid feeding your pet ice lollies, as these are high in sugar and can contain harmful sweeteners. Some owners offer their pet ice cubes during the hot weather. There is some debate as to whether this is good for your pet, so if you do give them this, do it in moderation.

When should I talk to a vet?

If your pet is showing signs of dehydration, you should speak to a vet for advice. If the dehydration is severe, your pet may need to be admitted for suitable treatment. Dehydration can also suggest an underlying health problem, which would require blood tests and other diagnostics.

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