Most people think of dehydration and thirst as being linked, and sometimes they are - but there's more to it. The hot summer months bring more risk of course, and even swimming and playing in water can be more dangerous than many people realize. The case of a dog dying after playing a very popular game with his owner is dramatic, and reflects what happens every single year. Being aware can save your dog's life.
Dehydration causes an imbalance of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) and affects body organs. It also reduces the volume of intracellular fluids and blood which then causes a reduction in the delivery of oxygen and removal of waste.
Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration as can endocrine diseases, kidney disease and heat stroke. GI tract diseases and urinary diseases tend to be the more common causes in dogs.
Diets play a role here as well. Raw and cooked diets are about 70% moisture, but did you know that urine is needed to eliminate nitrogen from the body, and nitrogen is released as part of dietary protein metabolism? So, diets that are very high in protein increase urine output, which escalates the risk of dehydration for hard working performance dogs. Keep in mind that urine output can mean the dog urinates more often, but many times it's actually a matter of the amount of urine being excreted despite that frequency hasn't changed. The answer can be as simple as ensuring the dog drinks well (home-made meat broths made without onions are a favorite for most dogs) Don't be tempted to add something salty like (canned) sardine juice instead. In most cases these juices are high in sodium which may get the dog to drink, but excess sodium excretion causes calcium excretion as well. That's not a good gameplan for most dogs, especially certain breeds that are prone to forming calcium oxalate bladder stones. Being proactive means we can address the bigger picture rather than focusing on hydration alone.
Signs of Dehydration
Skin at beck of neck remains 'tented' when you pinch (gently) it upward
Loss of appetite
Lack of appetite
Elevated heart rate/weak pulse
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Monica and Jody
"Dogs are the magicians of the universe" ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés