Knowing what dog dehydration treatments are available could save your dog’s life.
Dehydration is a life-threatening condition. It results from your dog not drinking enough water or from losing fluids or the electrolytes that helps body cells absorb water. It’s a more common problem than you would expect and if left untreated can be lethal. There are several causes of dehydration:
- Your dog has no access to water during the day–maybe she has spilled her water bowl, or you have locked her in alone all day.
- She has an underlying illness and is refusing to drink–heat stroke, fever, pain or nausea may stop her from wanting to drink.
- Loss of fluid through vomiting or diarrhea–because of illness or from eating something bad.
- Disease such as kidney failure or diabetes will cause the dog to urinate more fluid than they are taking in.
- The weather is boiling, she’s not drinking, and she is sweating… yes, contrary to popular belief, dogs sweat through their paws to help cool themselves down. That’s why you often see damp paw prints on the kitchen floor on scorching days.
If you suspect your dog is not drinking enough water, there are various dog dehydration treatments for you to try.
How can you tell your dog is suffering from dehydration?
There are some telltale signs that may show you need to rehydrate your dog is:
- sunken eyes
- dry gums
- dry skin
- sunken eyes
- dry nose
- no elasticity to the skin which forms a ‘skin tent’ if you pinch a little up on her back or the top of the head.
If she shows two or more of these symptoms together, then you can assume dehydration may be the cause. If she is still willing to drink, you can try to re hydrate her at home, but if she refuses to drink or you don’t get an immediate improvement, then call your veterinarian.
Is Water Enough?
If your dog is thirsty but not at the point of dehydration, then filling a suitable bowl with water will be enough to halt any problems, but, dehydration will not only leave her thirsty, she will lose essential minerals and electrolytes that help the body function, too. You need to replace these.
Sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium are the essential minerals the body uses through the osmosis process, too:
- Maintain water balance.
- Move nutrients into the body cells.
- Remove waste from the cells.
- Maintain a pH balance.
- Make sure essential body systems work.
These minerals come from food and natural spring water. Insufficient water will concentrate the salts in the cells leading to further dehydration.
Chicken soup is a well-known food to give to convalescing people and is good to give to your dog to replace the essential nutrients and electrolytes lost after a gastrointestinal illness. The smell of the chicken is irresistible to the dog and will stimulate her appetite to drink. In fact, adding any wet food into the kibble mix will help to provide essential hydration in her diet.
Using Electrolyte Replacement Drinks
I’ve already mentioned, part dog dehydration treatments should be to ensure that the correct electrolyte balance is regained. Whereas you can do this through diet, there are easier ways to ensure your dog re hydrates properly. Giving an electrolyte drink will help the body re balance more quickly so it can deliver water into the cells where it is needed.
When it comes to choosing an electrolyte drink for your dog you are a little stuck for choice. Many people recommend giving an infant formula such as Pedialyte® or Dioralyte®, both of these products has a flavor free option, but there is still a taste which I find synthetic and somewhat unpleasant and so have not been surprised when I’ve struggled to give it to dogs needing re hydration.
Infant formula Electrolyte Drinks
Dioralyte® is available in a powder form which you mix with water. At $5.19 for 6 sachets, from Amazon, this is a cheap option as 6 sachets will make up 1200ml (40.6 fl.oz) of solution.
When using it to re hydrate your dog, I like the sachet idea as I can measure out just the right amount for the size of dog and keep the remainder of the packet dry and fresh in an airtight container which reduces wastage.
Often recommended for dogs is Pedialyte® which is also available from Amazon as well as most pharmacies. It’s primarily marketed for adults, kids and sportsmen, but is also suggested for dogs. Conveniently, it comes already mixed into a solution and works out at $10.14 per 1L (33.8 fl.oz). However, if you are likely to use the solution yourself, buying in bulk like this is a good option, but if you are only buying to re hydrate your dog, you may well be spending money on products that will sit on your larder shelf for months, unused.
Pedialyte do make powder packs, but these tend to come in flavors your dog is unlikely to enjoy.
To give either of these re hydrants to your dog you must first dilute them with water on a 1:1 ratio. You can add this to their drinking bowl or food or freeze to make into an iced Popsicle which your dog may find easier to consume when she is ill.
These electrolyte drinks should only be given to a dog who is dehydrated following a gastrointestinal illness, surgery or heat stroke, as giving them to a healthy dog will negatively affect the salts balance in the body.
You should always follow the instructions when giving medications, but when you use human medications on animals you also need to take into consideration not just their age but their weight too–calculate the dosage by measuring 15ml (0.5 fl.oz) to every 1lb (450g) of your dog’s weight, per day. It’s easy to get it wrong and over medicating your dog could easily occur. It is much safer to give a preparation designed with dogs in mind.
Packaging Size: 150ml (5.1 fl.oz)
Price: $5.19 for 6 sachets
Where to Buy: Amazon
Packaging Size: per 1L (33.8 fl.oz) – 4 pack
Where to Buy: Amazon
Specific Dog Dehydration Treatments
In the UK, Royal Canin® Rehydration Support Instant offers a food supplement to support dogs and cats by helping to balance electrolytes in the body. It comes in a wet form and is easily digestible. Suitable only for animals over 6 months of age, it should never be given to a puppy.
Royal Canin is a well respected brand with a reputation of conducting stringent lab tests on all their products and often recommended by the veterinarian. Their foodstuffs, although good, do tend to be expensive to buy, and Royal Canin® Rehydration Support Instant is no exception–15 x 29g (0.5 oz) sachets cost £17.82 from Amazon. But they always do what they say on the packet so buying any of their products comes with a reputation guarantee.
Royal Canin® Rehydration Support Instant
Packaging Size: 150ml (5.1 fl.oz)
Price: £17.82 (not available in USA)
Where to Buy: Amazon
Rebound® Recuperation Formula–Canine is a veterinary preparation for dogs. It’s available in a single serve 5.1 fl. oz (150ml) bottle, priced at $13.97 USD from Amazon.
This product is not available in the UK, but can be bought in USA, Australia and Canada.
Rebound® should be used only for short term supplementation. It comes in chicken flavor which is attractive to the animals and helps to stimulate their desire to drink. It comes ready to use and doesn’t need any dilution and can be given from the packet, warmed or chilled to suit the dog’s preference.
Note: when dogs are dehydrated after sun/heat stroke they may prefer the solution to be frozen, but following vomiting a warmed solution may offer more comfort. Storage is at room temperature but after opening it should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
In addition to the essential minerals and electrolytes, Rebound also contains fatty acids, pro-biotics and Taurine–which helps to conjugate the bile acids which are essential in the digestive process so particularly useful after gastrointestinal illness. The product is low calorie, has no artificial colorants or preservatives added and is suitable for all ages from puppy to geriatric patients.
Rebound® Recuperation Formula–Canine
Packaging Size: 150ml (5.1 fl.oz)
Where to Buy: Amazon
With any of these dog dehydration treatments, you should give them only when the dog has stopped vomiting for at least 4 hours, and then only a little at a time to prevent her gulping it down too fast and vomiting again. An easy way to control this is to measure the optimal amount of electrolyte water for her size into a jug and supervising her as she drinks to ensure she consumes it all.
To calculate your dog’s fluid need each day:
multiply her body weight by 50ml (1.7 fl oz).
If she has any difficulty drinking from a bowl then use a pipette, a baby’s bottle or rubber glove with a pin prick hole in one finger to encourage her to take in the water properly and allow you to check she is drinking enough. Over the years, I have used this technique on various domestic and wild dehydrated animals: a litter of puppies found abandoned in a derelict house; a Persian cat rescued from a student flat when they had gone for the summer; a buzzard that fell into the garden; an edible dormouse I found in the cellar; and a new born calf we found in a field after she lost her mother to a snake bite. It works, but it does need patience and a lot of cuddles.
My Thoughts on These Products
When I was at college training to be a natural health therapist, my professor told me that in an emergency situation if you don’t have exactly the right remedy don’t stress out, but find something that is close enough to pause the illness and buy you enough time to get hold of the indicated medicine.
Whilst this makes sense, so does being prepared!
Which is why I always keep a first aid box in my house that covers most common eventualities for both my family and my animals. Powder sachets are the best format to keep in store as they will last for 3 years kept in a dry place. Liquid solutions usually has a shelf life of 2 years unopened and a fridge life of 48 hours once opened, but you can freeze unused liquid if you only use a small amount from the bottle. Either way, you can always make sure you have something available to use if your dog should become dehydrated.
I found an Exciting New Dog Dehydration Treatment Worth Trying Out: It’s called, Doggie Water®
Until a year ago, I was living in Cyprus with my dogs, where the temperature can soar over 40 deg.C (that’s 104 deg. F). On such days we all increased our water intake, stayed in the shade for much of the day and set the alarm each morning for 6am so that we could take our daily walk before it became too hot…at 8! However tired I was, setting off any later was never an option. Not only would the ground get too hot for the doggies’ feet, but loading up my back pack with enough water for us all to drink along the way left my shoulders aching and me discovering muscles I didn’t know I had. I searched for a solution, tried adding electrolyte powders to the water bottles but my dogs hated the taste and refused to drink–I really don’t blame them.
If only I had discovered Doggie Water® then.
Doggie Water® is a brand new product from a new company, My Doggie Water, who are building up their track record with consumers, but the initial response from dogs is great and I expect it will soon become popular with consumers and their owners alike.
Doggie Water® is advertised as a ‘sports drink for dogs’ and is not simply for re hydration after illness, but can be used as an ongoing daily food supplement to promote health and hydration and during physical activity, to provide the right amount of essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. This product is suitable for any age of dog. It is easy to use as you can pour it directly over food or into the water bowl. When out walking, my dogs will happily drink direct from the pouch so long as I hold it for them. It comes in 4 flavours: chicken, steak, bacon and natural. None of these flavours get my own taste buds drooling, but my dogs love them.
The company have an ethical approach to business. They use eco-friendly packaging and return a proportion of their profits to supporting a cat and dog charity.
The company has an automated reordering system. Once set up you will receive deliveries without needing to think about it. For people like me who can leave things to the last minute, this is a great idea and ensures I never run out of DoggieWater®.
The concept is awesome! At $4.87 per litre, it’s one of the cheapest re hydrant options out there for your dog. There are some great flavours. And the automated reordering system is convenient. Above all the company has ethical intentions.
Packaging Size: 220ml (7.4 fl.oz) Concentrate or 1L (33.8 fl.oz). Ready to use
Price: $19.49 for a 4-pack
Where to Buy: My Doggie Water
When to Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian
If home treatment is not enough, seek advice from your veterinarian.
- A dog can only last a few days without water. If your dog is unable to drink and has not improved with home treatments, ask for professional help.
- If your dog has kidney disease or diabetes, keeping the salts balance in her body correct is critical. Don’t take chances. Consult with your veterinarian straight away.
The veterinarian will take a blood test to determine the severity of the dehydration and to help identify the cause. It may be that your dog will need a course of antibiotics, anti-sickness medicine or pain relief. The veterinarian will give her fluids via an intravenous drip to replace those she has lost. This is the most effective and preferred treatment. If the veterinarian is unable to insert a cannula, he will administer fluid under the skin instead.
Puppies and older dogs do get ill and sometimes dehydrated. Bad food or disease may causes them to vomit or have diarrhoea. Or, simply the weather is hot and your dog is sweating as she tries to cool down. Keeping the water bowl topped up with fresh water all day is not enough. If she is sweating or losing liquid through vomit or diarrhoea, you will need to replace electrolytes too. There are some dog dehydration treatments options to help you do this which I have outlined above. They are not by any means the only options you have, but they are straightforward, easily accessible and can help you react quickly if your dog is ever in distress with dehydration.
Links to Products in this Post
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