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How Can I Tell If My Dog is Dehydrated?

Summertime is here! Amidst the trips to the beach and the park, enjoying the sunshine, dehydration becomes a greater risk. And just like humans, dogs can be affected by this serious condition. Unlike us, who might simply feel thirsty or notice dry skin, dogs exhibit different symptoms that can be harder to detect if you're not looking for them. Here are some ways to tell if your dog is dehydrated, how to prevent dehydration, and how to take care of your dog if they are dehydrated.

Recognizing Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Common Symptoms

Loss of Skin Elasticity

One of the most straightforward ways to gauge if your dog is dehydrated is by checking their skin elasticity. Gently pinch the skin on the back of their neck or between their shoulders. In a well-hydrated dog, the skin should snap back quickly. If it returns slowly or remains slightly pinched, dehydration may be present.

Dry Nose and Gums

Dogs typically have moist noses and gums. If you notice that your dog's nose is dry or their gums are sticky and dry instead of wet and slippery, it could be a sign of dehydration.

Sunken Eyes

Dehydration can cause the eyes to appear sunken and lackluster. This symptom is particularly noticeable in severe cases.


A dehydrated dog will often exhibit signs of fatigue and lethargy. They might seem less interested in activities they usually enjoy and may sleep more than usual.


Excessive panting can be both a cause and a symptom of dehydration. While dogs pant to cool down, if they're panting heavily without a clear reason, it could indicate that they're dehydrated.

Decreased Appetite

Dogs that are dehydrated might show little interest in food. A sudden decrease in appetite, especially if coupled with other signs, should prompt a hydration check.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

These symptoms can cause or indicate dehydration. If your dog is experiencing either, it's essential to ensure it's getting enough fluids.

Less Obvious Symptoms

Thick Saliva

Dehydrated dogs often produce thick, rope-like saliva.

Reduced Urination

If your dog is urinating less frequently or producing dark yellow urine, this could be a sign of dehydration.

Differences Between Human and Canine Dehydration

While some symptoms overlap, such as lethargy and sunken eyes, there are notable differences in how dehydration manifests in dogs versus humans. Humans may experience dizziness, confusion, and rapid heart rate, whereas dogs typically do not exhibit these signs in the same way. Instead, dogs rely more heavily on physical cues like skin elasticity and moisture in their nose and gums.

Another critical difference is the factor of panting. Humans sweat to regulate body temperature, whereas dogs primarily use panting. Excessive panting can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in hot weather or during strenuous activities.

Preventing Dehydration in Dogs

Preventing dehydration in your dog involves proactive habits and awareness, especially during hotter months or periods of increased activity.

Ensure Constant Access to Fresh Water

  • Water Bowls: Keep multiple water bowls around the house and yard, ensuring they're always filled with clean, fresh water.
  • Travel: When traveling or going for walks, bring a portable water bottle and bowl to provide water on-the-go.

Monitor Water Intake

Keep an eye on how much water your dog drinks daily. An average dog needs about one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. If you notice a significant drop in their water intake, investigate further.

Adjust for Weather and Activity Levels

  • Hot Weather: Increase water availability during hot weather. Provide shaded areas outdoors and avoid strenuous activities during peak heat.
  • Exercise: After exercise or play, ensure your dog rehydrates. Offer water breaks during long play sessions or walks.

Diet Considerations

  • Wet Food: Incorporating wet dog food into their diet can help increase their overall water intake.
  • Broth: Adding a bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to their water can encourage them to drink more, especially if your dog doesn’t drink as much water as they should.

Regular Health Checks

  • Veterinary Visits: Regular check-ups with the vet can help catch underlying issues that might contribute to dehydration. Always consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is dehydrated or if you notice any unusual changes in their behavior or health.
  • Home Checks: Perform routine checks at home for signs of dehydration, especially during changes in weather or activity levels.

Address Underlying Health Issues

Conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, or gastrointestinal problems can contribute to dehydration. If your dog has any chronic health conditions, work closely with your vet to manage their hydration needs.

Provide Electrolyte Solutions

An electrolyte solution designed for pets can help dogs that are active or recovering from illness maintain balanced hydration levels. Consult with your vet before introducing any new products to ensure they're suitable for your dog.

Put Your Dog in the Best Care When You’re Away

With these tips, you can help protect your dog’s health this summer. However, you may not always be with your dog, whether you are at work or on a long vacation. When those extended periods of time come, you want to make sure your dog is in the best hands, with loving care and devoted attention. At K9 Resorts Luxury Pet Hotel, we know your dog is like family so we treat them as such. Our highly trained staff know the signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs and take extra care of them on those extra hot days.

Visit us online to find a K9 Resorts Luxury Pet Hotel location near you and book a stay or schedule daycare today!