How to Tell If Your Pet Is Dehydrated

small dehydrated dog sitting by a water bowl

Dehydration occurs when the body lacks adequate fluid and loses more than it takes in. Just like humans, pets require water for the body to function effectively. Water is necessary for virtually all body functions, including digestion, protecting internal organs, regulating body temperature, and lubricating joints.

Water is an essential part of good nutrition as it allows cells to absorb vital nutrients. It is helpful to know how to tell if your pet is dehydrated.

Loss of Skin Elasticity

Carrying out the skin pinch test can let you know if your pet is dehydrated. Loss of elasticity is a clear sign that your pet may be dehydrated. Gently pull and release the loose skin and see what happens. If the skin springs back instantly, your pet is well hydrated. If the skin takes longer to fall back into position (skin tent), it is a sign of dehydration.

Dull, Tacky Gums

Checking your pet’s gums regularly is a way to ensure that they are healthy, both orally and generally. The gums can indicate the presence of a health condition or dehydration. Healthy gums should be pink and glistening, and they should be moist.

Use your finger to touch the gums; if they feel dry and sticky, the gums are tacky. Tacky and dull gums can be a sign that your pet is dehydrated.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is a common symptom of illness, and it can be a sign of dehydration. If your pet shows signs of sudden lack of appetite, you need to consult your vet. Lethargy and reduced energy levels may accompany the lack of appetite.

It happens as the pet tries to conserve energy to prevent worsening dehydration. Dehydration may also lead to vomiting and diarrhea. It is vital to visit the vet immediately when you notice these symptoms.

Excessive Panting

Panting is how dogs cool themselves down. Your pet will tend to pant more during hot days. But if the panting is excessive, it can indicate a severe problem. Panting more than usual is a sign of dehydration. It can also show that your pet is anxious or in pain. Cushing’s disease is a medical condition characterized by excessive panting.

A Dry Nose

If your dog is healthy, their nose should be moist, regardless of the weather. If the nose is dry, it can indicate dehydration. A dry nose can also signify another health issue or a skin infection. You should visit the vet if your pet’s nose is dry.

Sunken, Dry Eyes

Eyes that are sunken and dry-looking can indicate severe dehydration. The sunken appearance occurs as the fluid in the eyes reduces and the fat pads shrink. It results in the eyes sinking into the sockets.

Thick Stringy Saliva

The saliva from your dog’s mouth should be watery or thin. If the pet is dehydrated, the saliva will be thick and stringy. The thick saliva will also tend to stick to the roof of the mouth.

It is vital to realize that some pets will not drink enough water unless encouraged. Make sure that your pet is taking in enough water each day.

For more on pet dehydration, call Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center at 480-595-8600 to reach our office in Cave Creek, Arizona.