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Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook


Dehydration is excess loss of body fluids. Usually it involves loss of both water and electrolytes, which are minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium. During illness, dehydration may be caused by an inadequate fluid intake. Fever increases the loss of water. This becomes significant if the dog does not drink enough to offset it. Other common causes of dehydration are prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.

One sign of dehydration is loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the back is picked up into a fold, it should spring back into place. In dehydration, the skin stays up in a ridge. Another sign is dryness of the mouth. Late signs are sunken eyes and circulatory collapse.

Treatment: If your dog is noticeably dehydrated, you should seek veterinary attention. Treatment is directed at replacing fluids and preventing further losses.Loss of skin elasticity in severe dehydration. Note intravenous fluids, which are of extreme importance.

- Loss of skin elasticity in severe dehydration. Note intravenous fluids, which are of extreme importance.

In mild cases without vomiting, fluids can be given by mouth. If the dog won't drink, you can give an electrolyte solution into the cheek pouch by bottle or medicine syringe (see APPENDIX). Balanced electrolyte solutions for treating dehydration in children are available at drug stores. Ringer's lactate, mixed half and half with 5% dextrose in water, and a solution called Pedialyte are suitable for dogs. They are given at the rate of two to four cc per pound body weight per hour depending upon the severity of the dehydration (or as directed by your veterinarian).

The treatment of dehydration in infant puppies is discussed in PEDIATRICS:Common Feeding Problems.


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