How to Rehydrate a Sick Dog

By Marisa Swanson

Like humans, dog bodies are made of 80 percent water. Having enough water in a dog's system determines the flow of nutrients, food and waste through his body. There are several illnesses that dogs can acquire that deplete their hydration levels. Parvo is a virus that prevents their bodies from absorbing nutrients, while parasites can cause diarrhea and therefore dehydration. There are simple methods you can use to hydrate your dog.

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Give the dog access to twice as much water as his body size needs per day and keep the bowl full. A dog needs an ounce of water for every pound of weight, daily. A 20-pound dog should be given at least 40 ounces of water per day.

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Offer the dog Pedialyte to drink. Pedialyte is made to rehydrate children during and after sickness, but it also works well for dogs. Pedialyte comes in different flavors but you should buy the flavorless variety. If the dog does not want to drink the Pedialyte alone, mix in a bit of chicken soup broth. The heartier flavor will appeal more to the dog.

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Feed the dog ice chips. Some illnesses prevent the dog from wanting to drink on his own. In this case you can hand-feed the dog ice chips one at a time. If the Pedialyte does not work, and the dog is not drinking on his own, resort to this step.

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Check the dog for symptoms of dehydration. After you have given the dog access to water, fed him Pedialyte, and if he's not drinking, fed him ice chips, then monitor his symptoms. If the dog is dehydrated still, his skin will lose elasticity and moisture. You can tell by pinching the skin; if it does not immediately rebound, it has lost moisture. The dog's eyes will appear dry and his mouth and gums will appear dry too. Feel inside the mouth for wetness.

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Visit a veterinarian if the dog's condition does not improve over a few days' time. When a dog is suffering from dehydration due to a past or current illness, sometimes the most efficient way to get him hydrated is through an IV drip. Seeing the veterinarian is always a good idea when a dog is sick. She can diagnose the sickness, as well as the severity of dehydration and prescribe the best way to get the dog back on his feet.