How to Tell if a Puppy is Dehydrated

by Perfect Puppy Care on March 29, 2010

Thirsty Puppy

Raising a puppy is a hard job. If the normal tasks of puppy rearing aren’t enough, you, as a puppy owner, need to be aware of dehydration, a common problem among young dogs.

Dehydration is the loss of fluid and it is very common in puppies less than six weeks of age. This is due to the fact that these young canines have not yet developed mature kidneys and skin. Their high metabolic rate can result in increased water loss, causing dehydration.

Dehydration, which is a result of an excessive loss of body fluids due to illness, exposure to extreme heat or the lack of drinking water, can be mild or severe. Puppies suffering from mild dehydration may not show any clinical signs. However, the problem can become serious enough to cause a loss of needed minerals, shock and circulatory shutdown, which can be fatal.

You can protect your puppy by being aware of the fact that puppies lose fluids by panting and breathing. It is up to you to keep a watchful eye for signs of a developing problem.

One good means of checking a puppy for dehydration is to test the elasticity of the skin. Gently pull the skin away from the puppy’s body in the area of the neck. When the skin is released, it should immediately return to the body. If there is a delay, your puppy very well may be suffering from dehydration.

Another test is to press on the puppy’s gums. If the gums go from white back to pink quickly, the puppy is probably not dehydrated. If it takes a few seconds for the pink to return, get fluids into the puppy. If he or she won’t drink, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Other symptoms of dehydration are heavy panting, sunken and dry eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, depression, lethargic behavior, a faster than normal heart rate, loss of appetite, excessive drooling and dry gums, nose or mouth.

Quick diagnosis of puppy dehydration will go a long way in helping the dog return to normal. If severely dehydrated, the puppy could have to remain at the veterinarian’s office until he or she shows signs of improvement.

If the puppy is not dehydrated enough to be kept by the doctor, you will need to work to get fluids into the puppy as frequently as every half hour to an hour. Be prepared to continue the process through the night too. Continue until the puppy is drinking on its own and shows no more dehydration symptoms.

When coaxing fluids on your puppy, use purified water or a mix (50/50) of water and Gatorade. Do not use undiluted Gatorade. Use an eyedropper or clean syringe to administer the fluids. Place the dropper about one-half inch into the corner of the puppy’s mouth and squeeze to release the fluids. Hold the puppy’s head up for a couple of seconds to insure that he or she gets all of the fluid.

It is a good idea to feed a diet of boiled rice cooked in chicken or beef broth while he or she is showing signs of dehydration.

Have your puppy rechecked by the veterinarian in order to make sure that the dog is fully hydrated.

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