How to Spot Dehydration in Dogs

Goldendoodles are an active dog breed that love to keep you company during your hikes through the woods or your walks around the block. However, dogs can’t keep cool like humans can; we can wear lighter clothing and we sweat to regulate our body temperature. Dogs don’t have either of these options. It’s important to recognize the signs of dehydration in dogs, especially if your dog is active in hot weather.

Signs of dehydration in dogs

These basic symptoms may indicate that your dog is dehydrated.

  • Panting
  • Thick saliva
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Dry nose
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of apatite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry gums
  • Loss of skin elasticity

You can typically treat mild dehydration by simply letting your dog rest in air conditioning or a shaded area and drinking water. However, severe dehydration may require veterinary care.

What should you do if your dog is  severely dehydrated?

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, there are three main signs that your dog is severely dehydrated: dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and sunken eyes.

Severe dehydration may mean that your dog needs veterinary care to receive fluid therapy.

  • Your dog’s gums should normally feel wet and slippery. Check with your finger to see if your dog’s gums are dry or tacky.
  • Pinch the skin between the shoulder blades or on top of the head between the ears; the skin should flatten out almost immediately. If the skin stays peaked for one or two seconds, your dog may be severely dehydrated.
  • A healthy dog’s eyes normally protrude slightly out of the eye socket; the eyes will sit deep in the sockets if your dog is severely dehydrated.

Seek veterinary care right away if your dog shows any of the symptoms above.

Preventing canine dehydration

While dogs sweat, they don’t sweat in the same way that humans do, and it’s not the main way that they keep cool. Dogs lower their body temperature primarily through panting and by drinking water.

Always make sure fresh, clean water is available for your dog. Always carry clean water with you, especially if you are being active away from clean sources of water. Consider investing in an insulated water bottle to keep the water nice and cool.

Get outside during cooler parts of the day. Avoid strenuous activity during peak heat hours.

Take breaks as necessary and go slow.

Remember that not all dogs handle exercise and warm weather the same way. Young puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to the heat. Brachycephalic dogs — or dogs with flat faces such as Pugs, Boxers, and French Bulldogs — are more prone to overheating. Also, dogs with health issues may be more likely to overheat or get dehydrated in warm weather. Make sure that you know your dog’s limits.