How To Tell If A Dog Is Dehydrated

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Just like us, our dogs can be easily susceptible to dehydration. Excessive heat and exercise or just plain acting like the fool in the garden can lead to mild to severe dehydration if your doggie does not have a freely accessible water source.

You can tell your dog is dehydrated by their eyes, if they are sunken compared to normal, or if their gums are dry and sticky. Lethargy, weakness, or collapsing are also signs your pup is dehydrated. Another way to tell if your pup needs water is the loss of skin elasticity.

Dehydration does not only come from exercising and heat. Several other factors can lead to a dog losing liquids and cause severe problems to his organs and health. Knowing the signs to watch for and how to remedy them will save your dog from severe health issues or worse.

How To Tell When A Dog Is Dehydrated?

Ensuring your dog is always hydrated is vitally important for bodily functions. Dehydration can potentially be a life-threatening condition if not taken seriously. Always watch your dog for signs that he may need water or electrolytes.

Signs that say your dog is dehydrated can be seen in the loss of skin elasticity. If you look at your dog and his eyes are somewhat sunken, chances are he is dehydrated. Another sign of dehydration is dry gums and heavy panting.

There are several reasons why your dog could be dehydrated, which may be due to an underlying illness.

The first sign is that when your dog doesn’t touch his water, this will undoubtedly indicate that he is not feeling himself. Vomiting or diarrhea will quickly worsen the severity of this problem, and seeking veterinarian assistance is recommended.

A concentrated yellow indicates that the body holds back water for vital functions. This will leave the urine to be a bright yellow when excreted.

When exercising or playing, make sure your dog has plenty of water breaks, especially when it’s hot. You will see your dog is thirsty and possibly dehydrated when he starts to pant heavily, coupled with dry sticky gums is a sign he needs water right away.

How To Tell When A Dog Is Dehydrated By Its Gums?

Checking your dog’s gums should quickly tell you if he is dehydrated and needs water or not.

A healthy-looking gum is moist and shiny and has a pink color. If your dog suffers from dehydration, his gums will feel dry and sticky, and this is because the body tries to retain liquid and therefore produces less saliva.

You can also do the finger test by gently pressing your finger against your dog’s gums. The area you pressed will appear white once you remove your finger, but revert to a normal color immediately if your dog is well hydrated.

When the dog is dehydrated, the capillaries in the dog’s gums will take longer to refill with blood, making the spot look white for a longer period.

How To Tell If A Dog Is Dehydrated By Its Skin?

Firstly, knowing what your dog’s skin does and looks like when well hydrated will help you identify if he is dehydrated.

When your dog is healthy and well-hydrated, gently pull the skin up between his shoulder blades, raising it 2 to 3 inches. Release the skin and observe how it springs back.

A well-hydrated dog’s scruff will spring back to normal instantly, meaning it has good elasticity. A dehydrated dog’s skin will take longer to regain its normal shape.

In general, if the dog’s skin takes two seconds or more to return to normal, he is suffering from dehydration, and measures to hydrate your dog need to be taken.

How To Tell If A Dog Is Dehydrated By Its Eyes?

Eyes need plenty of fluid to function properly, so when a dog becomes dehydrated, the body pulls the water back from this area. This makes your dog’s eyes seem further back in his head than normal.

How Does A Dog Become Dehydrated?

Dogs get their daily requirements of water through eating and drinking. This fluid is lost daily through natural activities such as breathing, panting, defecating, and urinating, and you will find that they also lose fluid through evaporation from their paws.

A dog quickly becomes dehydrated when he loses more fluids than he drinks. Eating and drinking will help replenish the fluids and electrolytes your dog has lost through natural daily activities.

Upset stomach and diarrhea or vomiting can also lead to dehydration, and he may refuse to drink because he is in pain or feeling waves of nausea.

Exercising and playing in the sun can lead to heatstroke, making your dog feel lethargic, weak, or even collapse. Giving him regular intervals to drink water and ensuring there is always a freely available drinking source can easily eliminate this problem.

How Does A Dog Act When Dehydrated?

You can also watch your dog for tell-tale signs that he is busy or already dehydrated.

A dog will pant heavily when hot and thirsty, either due to the temperatures or exercising. Ensure he has water to replenish any fluids lost due to these conditions.

Pacing up and down is also a sign that your dog is looking for water. Laying down or collapsing means he is in critical need of water and is nearing the point of exhaustion due to lack of water.


What To Do When Your Dog Is Dehydrated?

Aside from seeking veterinarian advice when your dog is severely dehydrated, knowing how to treat mild dehydration at home is important.

Bring your dog inside away from the sweltering heat, allowing them to cool off in the shade. If your dog is extremely hot, place a wet towel on the floor and allow your dog to lay down on the cool fabric to bring his body temperature down.

Encourage your dog to drink by themselves; if they refuse, you may need to squirt some liquids in his mouth with a syringe. In mild cases of dehydration, a small dog needs about 1/3 cup of water per hour, and a larger breed will need 1/4 cup of water per hour.

Keep them comfy in a cool shaded area and monitor their condition for a few hours. If they do not get any better, contact your vet immediately.

Allow your dog to take a nap indoors, in a well-ventilated room, for the rest of the day.

How Long Does Dehydration Last in Dogs?

Dogs can survive without drinking water for 72 hours, but signs of dehydration can be seen within a few hours to 24 hours.

The recovery time from dehydration depends on the severity of the fluids lost. If your dog has a severe case of dehydration, his recovery speed will depend on what caused the dehydration in the first place and his willingness to drink by himself.

So, in short, the more severe the case of dehydration, the lengthier the process will be for recovery.

How Do You Force A Dog To Drink Water?

If your dog is feeling ill and vomiting, the chances are he will not willingly drink water, or perhaps he is so exhausted from heatstroke that the mere thought of drinking has drained him.

Nothing is more disheartening than when you try to help your friend, but you are faced with your dog’s total refusal to do as you ask.

In this circumstance, you have to gently coax water into his mouth through a syringe, persuading him gently and little by little to swallow it until he starts to drink by himself.

If the syringe doesn’t do the trick, then seeking help from your vet will be required to put your dog on a drip and administer fluids through the form of an IV drip.


There is a simple rule to ensuring your dog does not get dehydrated, make sure that wherever he is, his water bowl is freely accessible and is constantly filled with clean water. If you plan on hiking or exercising with your dog, then always bring a bottle of water or a portable drinker for your dog to get a water break and replenish his fluids lost through heat and excursion.