I received a phone call from my cousin the other day regarding his seven-year-old dog, Cotton. Cotton had been suffering from a bout of diarrhea, and my cousin was getting a little worried. Cotton wasn’t eating or drinking very well, seemed lethargic and his eyes were a little sunken. I informed my cousin that he needed to get Cotton to his veterinarian as soon as possible, as I was concerned that Cotton was getting dehydrated (along with whatever was causing the diarrhea). My cousin confided that he hadn’t even considered dehydration – he would normally attribute that to dogs who are exercising or working really hard. We said our good-bye’s and Cotton was taken to his vet. I then realized that a blog regarding dehydration in pets was in order!
Just like people, animals are about 80% water. It is essential in maintaining normal body functions from digestion to energy production to immunity and even ridding the body of wastes and toxins. Your pets require an adequate amount of water consumption in order to maintain the appropriate balance with the amount that is being lost through temperature regulation, waste removal, etc. If your pet contributes to this loss with excessive exercise, exposure to a very hot and/or humid environment, or with illness, they may find themselves unable to replenish the fluids lost with fluid intake. This can quickly lead to very serious complications and illness.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration can be caused by a number of factors affecting your pet’s health, or can be triggered by an isolated situation like excessive exercise. Here are the most common causes of the condition:
- Exercise without an adequate water supply. Make sure if you are exercising with your pet (going for a run, throwing a ball, going for a long walk or hike, etc.) that you take an extra supply of water just for them. Be sure to offer this water frequently so that your pet can maintain their internal environment and regulate their temperature.
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea. If your pet is experiencing multiple episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, they are unlikely going to be able to consume enough water to replenish these losses. This is a good time to seek veterinary care.
- Chronic illnesses. Conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, infectious diseases,Cushing’s, Addison’s, cancer, etc. can make it difficult for your pet to keep themselves adequately hydrated. Make sure you monitor their water intake carefully, and keep your vet updated on how things are going.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how dehydration is diagnosed, and what can be done to treat the condition. I’ll also finish telling you the “tail” of our friend Cotton!
To more waggin’ and purrin’. rwkj