How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

Dog takes break on hike - PawSheetsMaking sure your dog gets enough water during the summer months is especially important. We love to take our buddy with us on hikes, boat rides and to the beach. But did you know that summer heat can pose a real threat to your dog?
Dogs get hot faster than people and dogs of any age can become dehydrated. Dehydration can be very serious and even cause death. With warmer temperatures fast approaching, understanding the signs of dog dehydration and how to treat it, can help you and your buddy have a fun and healthy summer.
When a dog becomes dehydration, they lose the ability to regulate their body temperature. Since they cannot sweat, they need to pant to cool down. When they pant, they lose water and run the risk of dehydration.


My black lab loves to lay in the hot sun but doesn’t know when it is time to move to a shady spot. All of a sudden, he’ll be panting like crazy. I know that if I left him out on his own, he would become dehydrated. As a result, I always keep an eye on him and call him in before he starts panting. I also make sure water is available in a shady area.

How do I know if my dog is dehydrated?

Knowing how to recognize the signs of dehydration in dogs can save you and your dog a lot of stress. Here are 6 signs of dog dehydration:

  1. Excessive panting – If you dog is heavily panting which more than normal, this can be a sign. High temperatures and hot sun can make it hard for dogs to cool down.
  2. Skin elasticity – Pinch the skin near your dog’s shoulders. If it “tents’ and does not spring back into place, your dog may be dehydrated. BTW - It is a good idea to do this when your dog is hydrated so you know what it should feel like.
  3. Sticky gums – Normal gums are moist and smooth. Dry, sticky gums indicate a problem so if your finger sticks to the gum, take action.
  4. Thick saliva – Thick and stringy saliva that clings to your dog’s mouth is a sign of dehydration. Saliva should be thin and watery.
  5. Sunken eyes – Sunken eyes that look dry and sink into the sockets is another sign of dehydration.
  6. Low energy – Dogs who are dehydrated will be lethargic and not want to play. If my lab doesn’t jump up when I pick up his favorite toy, I know something is not right.

What to do if your dog is dehydrated?

 If you think your dog is experiencing mild dehydration such as excessive panting or sticky gums, you should immediately move the dog to a cooler location – shade or air conditioning. Next, try to get the dog to drink some water. If symptoms do not improve within 5 minutes, you’ll need to get your dog to a vet.

How to prevent dog dehydration

The best way to prevent your dog from getting dehydrated is to avoid potential overheating situations. Running an errand on a hot summer day? Leave your dog home as dogs can quickly overheat in a car even if the window is cracked. In terms of prevention, you should provide:

  • Plenty of water – Keep a fresh, clean bowl of cool water inside and outside for you dog. If you are walking your dog, bring water and a small cup. Take breaks and provide water every 15- 20 minutes. Plan long walks early in the morning or during the evening.
  • Limited exercise – When it’s hot and humid, limit the time spent outside. If you want to go jogging on the beach when it’s 90°F, leave you dog home.
  • Healthy food – Do not let your dog eat salty, fatty human foods like hot dogs or pizza. Pack some apple or carrot slices if you want to bring treats on your walk.

Think about your actions and how they serve your dog’s needs. Even though we love to take our pets with us everywhere we go, sometimes it just makes more sense to leave them home.

Keeping your dog safe makes you a responsible owner. Wash dog bowls regularly and provide a clean dog bed cover on your dog’s bed. These all contribute to a healthy pet.

Note: This blog is not intended to provide medical advice. If you have questions, contact your veterinarian.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash


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