Is My Dog Dehydrated?

Dehydration is a common disorder affecting our dogs and may occur from multiple causes. It can happen in various degrees, so all pet owners must know the signs of dehydration in dogs, to give them proper attention.

In this article, we will see the most critical aspects of this topic, and we will teach you how to know if your dog is dehydrated.


In a few words, dehydration occurs when our dog eliminates more fluids than it recovers, causing an imbalance of electrolytes in its body. Therefore, affecting the whole organism and if the degree of dehydration is severe, the dog’s life is in danger.

The causes of dehydration in dogs are multiple. Very frequently, they are associated with diseases in which fluids are lost through vomiting, diarrhea, or both. Thus, whenever our dog presents this clinical picture, we must pay attention to its state of hydration.

Other pathologies such as kidney disease can also cause this imbalance, as well as emergencies such as heat stroke. Additionally, fever and severe illness can cause the dog to reduce its water intake, leading to dehydration.

How to know the signal of dehydration?

To know if a dog is dehydrated, you can carry out a simple test. Grabbing skin from the area near its shoulder blades and carefully pulling it away from the body a few centimeters. When released, in a healthy dog, the skin recovers its shape instantly.

In a dehydrated dog, the skin takes longer to return to its position. Depending on the degree of dehydration, it would take longer. Thus, this test is an effective way to determine dehydration in dogs.

Dried gums

The lack of liquids in the body of the dog triggers several reactions. One of the more visible responses is in the color and texture of the dog’s gums.

Healthy gums tend to look pink, and when pressed with a finger, it turns clearer, only to the quickly back to the previous color. The amount of time it takes to the gum to go back to its original color would determine the level of hydration.

The longer it takes, the higher the dehydration level is. Also, the gum most feels humid if it feels dry is because our dog needs to hydrate itself.

Thick saliva

Another way of the dog body prioritizes the water distributions around the body to reduce the water levels in the saliva. Therefore when you see your dog’s saliva thickens it levels of hydration might be decreasing.

Darkened urine

As the dogs have less and less water surplus, the color of its urine change. Since the water proportion is lower, the urine takes the color of the substances it carries.

Often, in this case, the urine turns to a darker yellow color as the dehydration grows. However, some cases have been recorded where the urine color turns into a spectrum of light to dark orange.

The sunken eyes

In more severe cases, veterinarians have noticed that the dog’s eye could sink. The reason, the dog’s organism in continuing to prioritizing the little water it has.

The tissue behind the eye might be affected and start losing consistency due to the lack of water. This is not going to affect the dog’s vision, but it is a signal your dog lacks a bunch of water.

Lethargy and anorexia

When dehydration continues for days or even weeks, it is common for the dog to present symptoms of fatigue due to a severe loss of muscular tissues.

The muscles are consumed because they contain the water the dog needs to survive. However, this biological reaction can reduce the nutrients and vitamin levels in your dog’s body.

Types of dehydration in dogs

Keep in mind that dehydration is a temporary condition that can not be reversed by giving the dog a big bowl of water except in the case of really mild dehydration. For instance, if your dog has vomited a few times or it has not had enough water on a hot day.

Precisely, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common causes of dehydration in dogs. In these episodes, it is normal for the dog to stop eating, which, together with the loss of fluids, produces this clinical picture.

There are several types of dehydration in dogs, depending on the amount of lost water, as follows:

  • Isotonic dehydration
    It is the mildest case, and we are not going to appreciate any symptoms. However, as it gets more severe, if we check the skin, the fold takes a little time to recover.
  • Hypertonic dehydration
    It is evident since the skin fold takes time to recover. In addition to the delay in the recovery of the skin, we will see dry mucous membranes and eyeballs sinking.
    Hypotonic dehydration
    In addition to the above symptoms, the dog will start to go into shock. We will appreciate pale mucous membranes and cold extremities, among other symptoms. Then, it is already severe, and the dog is in danger of imminent death.

Symptoms of dehydration in puppy dogs

In younger and older dogs, but also those with a disease, we should urgently go to our vet if we see any symptoms of dehydration. The smaller the puppy, the riskier. If it is dehydrated, he can die in a matter of hours.

Especially relevant in infant dogs, as they can weaken to the point of stopping breastfeeding, which will aggravate the condition.

These dehydrated puppies will present a dry mouth, which we can notice if we offer them to suck a finger, general weakness, and loss of tone. Besides, if we take a skin fold, it will not recover its shape.

Therefore, if a puppy presents diarrhea, a common cause of dehydration, we should seek immediate veterinary assistance.


If we observe dehydration signs in a dog, we must go to our veterinarian to establish the exact diagnosis and its corresponding treatment. It would be useless to provide plenty of water if we do not treat the primary cause of dehydration.

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