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Preventing Dehydration in Dogs During the Summer

Preventing Dehydration in Dogs During the Summer

Staying hydrated during the summer months is a challenge for most of us humans, let alone our dogs. Keeping your dog hydrated helps them stay cool, regulates their body temperature, and helps maintain optimal health and energy. To help prevent dehydration, dogs should have access to water at all times. Keep in mind that hotter temperatures and more activity can mean an increase in water consumption. Dogs will naturally lose water throughout the day, but without replenishment, your dog will slowly become dehydrated.

Signs of hydration will look different in every dog and can be mild or severe. Dogs suffering from medical conditions, like diabetes, or puppies and seniors can become dehydrated more easily. However, any dog can suffer from dehydration at any time.

If your pet is truly dehydrated, contact your vet immediately. Dehydration can be a symptom of a more severe illness. Keep reading for more tips on keeping your dog hydrated and why it’s so important.

How Much Water Does My Dog Need?

As a rule of thumb, dogs should drink an ounce of water for every pound of their body weight. So, a 40-pound dog should drink a little over a liter of water each day. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but more of a general guideline for dog owners to follow. Depending on the dog’s life-stage or level of activity, they may drink more water. Watch out for signs of excessive thirst or a big increase in how much water they drink. This could be a sign of a medical condition that needs veterinarian attention.

Beagle dog drinking out of stainless steel water bowl.

What Are the Signs of Dehydration in Dogs?

If you suspect your dog might be dehydrated, look for these signs:

  • lethargy, loss of normal energy
  • excessive panting
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sunken, dry eyes
  • dry, sticky gums
  • lack of skin elasticity

How Does Dehydration Affect My Dog?

According to the American Kennel Club, dehydration can lead to a loss of electrolytes (including sodium, chloride, and potassium). Electrolytes help maintain important functions in your dog’s body, including:

  • keeping their pH balanced
  • moving nutrients into cells
  • supporting muscle function
  • regulating nerve function

Untreated dehydration can lead to serious health risks for your dog, including organ failure or death.

If your pet displays signs of dehydration, call your vet immediately. Also, provide them with water immediately and move them to a cooler location.

Testing for Signs of Dehydration

There are two quick, easy-to-perform tests you can do to help determine your dog’s hydration level.

The first is a skin elasticity test. To test this, gently tug the skin between the shoulder blades and let it fall back. When hydrated, the skin will spring back into place. If your pet is dehydrated, the skin will take longer to fall back into place. Checking the elasticity of their skin can help establish a baseline for when they are properly hydrated. This will make it easier to tell if they are dehydrated.

A second test is to press on your dog’s gums to make sure they are moist, not dry and sticky. To test the capillary refill time, press a finger into the gum for a second. Healthy, hydrated gums should refill instantly. Dehydrated gums will take a few seconds to return to pink.

If you think your pet may be dehydrated (but they aren’t vomiting), an electrolyte such as Revitilyte Oral Electrolyte could help replace lost nutrients. Monitor their progress while keeping them out of the heat, and consult with your vet to ensure they properly rehydrate.

Keeping Your Dog Hydrated

For dogs that cannot avoid the heat and are traveling, working, or competing during the summer months, oral electrolytes for dogs like Nich Quick Start or K9 Power Go Dog Hydration Formula can be used as regular supplements to help them stay hydrated and in top form. Electrolytes can help to keep them hydrated, but there is no substitute for access to fresh, cold water.

Hydrating Pets While Traveling

Any kind of day trip or extended travel can lead to dehydration for your dog. Help keep them hydrated by bringing along a collapsible water bowl or another portable water bowl. Make sure to make regular stops to offer your pet water, even if they aren’t thirsty. If your dog is a picky drinker, bring along a bowl that’s similar to the bowl they use at home.

On a trip to the beach, lake, or mountains? Look for water bottles that can be attached to bags or other items with a clip. Another option is water bottles that come with a flip-top lid that doubles as a bowl. Keeping fresh, safe-to-drink water on hand can also help deter your dog from drinking out of lakes, puddles, and the ocean.

Hydration at Home

At home, check your dog’s bowl often and refill as needed. If your pet prefers running water, try a pet water fountain or a replenishing water system. These provide your pet with fresh water throughout the day, and they require less attention.

Top-rated bowls include the PetSafe Drinkwell Seascape Pet Fountain or the Petmate Pet Café Waterers (available in multiple sizes). Searching for other options? Jeffers offers a wide selection of water bowls for dogs that will fit any lifestyle.

Don’t forget the filters! To help keep the water fresh and flowing, replace filters every 2 to 4 weeks.

For dogs who spend more time outside, consider options such as the Tough Guy Automatic Waterer, which attaches directly to the garden hose. For additional outdoor relief, consider the Air Force Cage Cooling Fan or a fan with a built-in misting system. This helps your dog stay hydrated and helps prevent heat exhaustion.

Medium-sized dog drinking from a blue automatic PetSafe Pagoda Water Fountain.

There are many ways to keep your pet hydrated during the warmer months, and our products make it easy to keep your pets cool and watered. If you have any questions, feel to contact us or call 1-800-533-3377 where a friendly customer service representative will be glad to help!

The information given is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede or challenge the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a licensed veterinarian.

Have questions? Feel free to contact Renee Jones, Jeffers’ Pet Specialist, by phone (1-800-533-3377) or by email (rsjones@jefferspet.com).