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Is My Dog Dehydrated? – Simple Tests to Determine if a Dog is Dehydrated

March 18, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Capillary Refill Time in Dogs, Dog Dehydration, Dog Symptoms, How to Test a Dog for Dehydration, Pale Gums in a Dog

Use a liquid syringe, also called an oral medicine dispenser for pets, to give Pedialyte to a dehydrated dog. Click to Learn More or Purchase – Creative Pet Products Oral Medicine Dispenser for Pets, $5.99 at PetSmart

Wondering, “How can I tell if a dog is dehydrated?” There are a couple simple tests that can be used to determine if a dog is dehydrated. These methods to test for dehydration can also be used for a sick cat or in cases where a cat won’t drink or eat.

The Skin Pinch Test for Dehydration in Dogs

In a dehydrated dog, the skin will lose its elasticity. The more dehydrated the dog, the less elasticity will be present in the dog’s skin.

There is a simple test for dehydration that can be performed at home. This is called “the pinch test” or “the skin pinch test” for dehydration:

  • Locate an area of loose skin on the dog’s body. Usually, the scruff of the neck is the best place to perform this test.
  • Gently pinch a bit of skin and pull it away from the dog’s body, creating a “tent.”
  • Hold the skin for 2-3 seconds and then release your grasp.
  • Observe the skin as it flattens out.

In a healthy dog, the skin will return to its normal position instantly. In a moderately dehydrated dog, the skin will take 1 second or longer to flatten.

In cases of very severe dehydration, the dog’s skin will remain a bit “tented” for several seconds or until you rub the area. If the latter is observed, this should be regarded as a medical emergency and the pet will require immediate transport to a veterinary clinic for treatment.

Sometimes, it can help to perform this test when the pet is healthy, as this provides a point of reference for the future. If other healthy pets are present in the household,  you can perform this home test for dehydration on the healthy pet as a comparison.

Checking the Dog’s Gums for Symptoms of Dehydration

Another fairly easy test for dehydration involves checking the dog’s gums.

In a healthy dog, the gums will be slick and pink in color.

In a sick, dehydrated dog, the gums will feel sticky or dry when you run your finger across the surface.  The a sick dog’s gum color will be pale and he will exhibit slow capillary refill time.



Dog Dehydration and How to Treat a Dog for Dehydration

Dehydration can be a potentially deadly situation. A dog’s diarrhea and vomiting is one common cause of dehydration; fluid loss occurs over the span of a day or two. If a dog won’t eat and drink at all, dehydration can set in within a matter of hours and the situation can turn critical within 24 to 48 hours.

If left untreated, a dehydrated dog will suffer kidney damage and organ failure. In many cases, when a dog won’t drink or eat, the underlying disease, infection or other health problem that caused the dehydration in the first place will worsen very quickly.

Dog dehydration can be treated in a few ways, including:

  • IV Fluids for Serious Dehydration in a Pet – In serious cases of dehydration, a dog will have low blood pressure, kidney problems and other very serious symptoms. An IV will be inserted into a vein and the dog will receive fluids via his circulatory system.
  • Subcutaneous Injection of Fluids for Sick Dogs – The fluid (called Ringer’s Solution) is injected under the dog’s skin; the pet’s body absorbs the fluids, thereby treating dehydration.
  • Pedialyte for Dogs With Dehydration – To treat minor dehydration at home, mix 50% Pedialyte (unflavored) with 50% water. If the dog won’t drink voluntarily, the the dog can be given liquids by mouth using a fluid syringe. Feeding wet dog food can also be helpful. Pet owners can saturate dry dog food with hot water. Add enough water to cover the kibble and wait 15 minutes for the food to absorb the fluid. The kibble will swell as it becomes soft and mushy.

Readers may also want to read related articles, including information about how to check a dog’s capillary refill time, along with how to check a dog’s gums, along with photos of pale gums in a dog and photos of normal gums.

Pet owners can learn about these topics and more on The Sick Dog Blog. Visit The Sick Dog Blog’s Archives to read more!

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Dog Pneumonia Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Respiratory Infections in Dogs

March 18, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog Breathing Problems, Dog Coughing, Dog Pneumonia, Dog Respiratory Problems, Dog Sneezing, Dog Symptoms, Respiratory Infections in Dogs

Excessive panting is a symptom of pneumonia in dogs. Pneumonia symptoms also include sneezing, rapid breathing, refusal to eat and drink and coughing in dogs. (Sue Byford Photo)

My latest article on Suite101 discusses pneumonia in dogs, including the symptoms of pneumonia in a dog, the causes and how to treat pneumonia in dogs.

Pneumonia is a serious and potentially deadly respiratory problem in dogs, cats and other pets. A dog with pneumonia will have a combination of inflammation, infection and fluid in the lungs and bronchi (the tube that leads to the lungs.) Pneumonia symptoms in a dog may include coughing, wheezing and “rattling” breathing,  non-stop panting, sneezing, and refusal to eat and drink (among other symptoms, discussed in more detail in the related article.)

Causes and Types of Pneumonia in Dogs – Aspiration Pneumonia, Infection, Fungi, Parasites and Dog Allergies as Causes of Respiratory Problems

This article discusses the different types and causes of pneumonia, which can include:

  • Aspiration pneumonia – The dog aspirates, inhaling food or fluid into the lungs, causing a lung infection that develops into aspiration pneumonia.
  • Pneumonia due to fungus or parasites – Inhaling fungus or certain types of parasites can cause pneumonia in a dog.
  • Dog pneumonia from bacteria, infection and virus – A dog’s pneumonia can be triggered by a virus or it can result from bacteria, that leads to a lung infection. In some cases, a dog’s upper respiratory infection — associated with symptoms like sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge and breathing problems in dogs — may be left untreated. An untreated upper respiratory infection can spread into the lungs, leading to pneumonia.
  • Pneumonia from a dog’s allergies – Allergies in dogs can cause pneumonia, particularly forms of pneumonia involving significant lung inflammation and mucus.




Owners will also find out what to expect when diagnosing and treating pneumonia in dogs. Respiratory infections can be very serious and potentially deadly, so it’s important that dog owners are educated on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of respiratory infections in dogs. Allergies and minor upper respiratory infections (URIs) in dogs are fairly common, with sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and discharge among the more common symptoms. But if a pet owner does not recognize the symptoms or if the owner mistakenly believes that the problem will resolve on its own, the dog may develop pneumonia, which can ultimately lead to hospitalization and even death.

To learn more about dog pneumonia symptoms, causes, diagnosis methods and how to treat a dog with pneumonia, read Mia Carter’s article titled, Dog Pneumonia Symptoms, Causes and Treatment: Canine Respiratory Infections Caused by Aspiration, Virus, Parasites.

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