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How To Tell If Your Dog Is Dehydrated

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June 17, 2011

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Dehydrated

By Chad Love

On Wednesday I passed along some information and tips on canine hydration  from Steve Ries at Native Performance Dog Food. But how to tell if your dog may be suffering from over-heating or dehydration? One answer lies in your dog's mouth, says Ries. It's called capillary refill time. Simply apply some pressure to your dog's gums by pushing in on them with a fingertip. If the area doesn't fill back in with red and stays white instead, then get your dog cooled off first, then watered. In addition, obviously dry or tacky gums is another warning sign your dog needs water.

Skin elasticity is another indicator of a dog's state of hydration. You've probably seen your vet pull up the skin on back of your dog's neck during vet visits. Why? Because skin is a good indicator of hydration. A properly hydrated dog's skin will snap back into place quickly, but if that loose skin on the back of the neck doesn't snap back quickly, it's a sign your dog needs water.

Additionally, a dog's internal temperature can also be a sign. If it's above 105 then stop, cool and then hydrate. One thing you don’t want to do if you think your dog is overheating or dehydrated is to wet them down or swim them and then stick them in a dog box or kennel. Evaporative cooling is the most effective way to cool down a dog, but putting a wet dog in a hot box or kennel only turns that space into a humid sauna. Instead, stake out or your dog in the shade where he can get some airflow for good cooling, or better yet, throw them into the cab of your truck and crank the A/C.

If you want some additional information on effectively cooling dogs, I'd recommend reading this post on the the Retriever Training Net forum  It's written by a veterinarian and contains a lot of great information on the physiology of the canine cooling mechanism and practical tips on keeping your dog out of the overheating danger zone.

Comments (8)

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from ckRich wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Great headline and photo. I'm still laughing!

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

there can never be enough said on this subject! too many times every year, dogs die because the owners are thinking of themselves first. your dog can't speak so you have to pay attention to them. long drives are a big one on this. pay attention! thanks for the post.

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from thunderdog512 wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Good info! when i get my dog and take him on long bike rides i'll be checking all these things to make sure hes okay. thanks!

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from condoski wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

The color the tongue is an indicator of body temperature. If it's closer to purple than pink, the dog needs to get cooled down.

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from texasbridhunter wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Good info. We dove hunt almost everyday of September in South Texas. Always carry an ice chest of cool water to put in a small wading pool when we get to the fields. This give the dog a place to cool off in between retrieves.

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from Mike V wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I have a mini Australian Shepard that goes with me to work every day. When the cab of my pickup starts to get too warm he "tells me" its time to turn on the A/C.

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from condoski wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

If the dog overheats in the field, scratch a "bed" on shaded ground to provide a cool resting place. Use the damp leaves to pat / rub on the belly and under the arms (leg) pits. The dog will cool down faster if it's standing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from royrogers wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Watch your dog if his tongue is hanging out further than what it usually does give him water and a few minutes rest. Prevention is better than the cure.

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Post a Comment

from jamesti wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

there can never be enough said on this subject! too many times every year, dogs die because the owners are thinking of themselves first. your dog can't speak so you have to pay attention to them. long drives are a big one on this. pay attention! thanks for the post.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from thunderdog512 wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Good info! when i get my dog and take him on long bike rides i'll be checking all these things to make sure hes okay. thanks!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from condoski wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

The color the tongue is an indicator of body temperature. If it's closer to purple than pink, the dog needs to get cooled down.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from condoski wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

If the dog overheats in the field, scratch a "bed" on shaded ground to provide a cool resting place. Use the damp leaves to pat / rub on the belly and under the arms (leg) pits. The dog will cool down faster if it's standing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Great headline and photo. I'm still laughing!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasbridhunter wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Good info. We dove hunt almost everyday of September in South Texas. Always carry an ice chest of cool water to put in a small wading pool when we get to the fields. This give the dog a place to cool off in between retrieves.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike V wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I have a mini Australian Shepard that goes with me to work every day. When the cab of my pickup starts to get too warm he "tells me" its time to turn on the A/C.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from royrogers wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Watch your dog if his tongue is hanging out further than what it usually does give him water and a few minutes rest. Prevention is better than the cure.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment