How to Hydrate a Dehydrated Dog

By Kris Brewer

Dehydration is a serious condition in dogs, and can be caused by sickness or heat. If not treated quickly, dehydration can lead to organ failure and eventually death. A pet owner can try some remedies to treat dehydration, but must be careful not to wait too long to seek professional help in the case of severe dehydration.

Dehydrated dogs will lose skin elasticity.

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Determine the extent of your dog’s dehydration. Dehydrated dogs will lose skin elasticity. Pull up on the skin at the scruff of the neck and note how quickly it returns to its normal location. The longer it takes, the more dehydrated the dog is. Capillary recovery also is diminished in dehydrated dogs. Push on your dog’s gums with one finger and release; note how quickly the pink color returns. The longer the spot takes to turn back to pink, the more dehydrated the dog is.

Start by giving your dog small amounts of water.

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Try to give your dog water. Start with small amounts. If your dog will not drink, try using the first syringe without a needle to squirt some water into the cheek of the dog’s mouth.

If your dog is very dehydrated, offer him an electrolyte drink.

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If your dog is severely dehydrated, offer him an electrolyte drink. If he is unwilling to drink, use the first syringe to squirt some of the electrolyte drink into the cheek area of the dog.

If none of the above work, give your dog subcutaneous fluids.

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If none of the previous steps solicit an improvement, give your dog subcutaneous fluids. Use the second syringe with needle and inject Lactated Ringer’s Solution directly under the skin at the scruff of the neck. Pinch the skin and lift, then inject the solution between the skin and the muscle. Give 5 to 10 mL of fluids per pound of body weight, but no more than 100 mL of fluids in any one injection site.

Severely dehydrated dogs will need immediate veterinary care.

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Severely dehydrated dogs will need immediate veterinary care. Severely dehydrated dogs also must have intravenous Lactated Ringer’s Solution. Most pet owners will not have either the equipment or the experience to provide this level of care. Take your dog to veterinarian immediately if you suspect he is more dehydrated than you can care for.