Tips to Spot and Prevent Dehydration in Pets

If a pet’s need for water isn’t met, the skin may become less elastic. Have you ever pinched the skin on the back of your hand to see how quickly it springs back into place? In humans, that’s an easy test for dehydration. You can do the same with your pet. With your thumb and forefinger, lift a small amount of skin on your dog or cat’s back. If the skin is low on moisture, it will fall back into place slowly instead of immediately snapping back.

Press your finger against the gums, then remove it. In a well-hydrated pet, the gums will look white and then return immediately to their normal pink color. If it takes longer for the gums to regain color, the pet may be dehydrated.

Dogs or cats who are severely dehydrated may have a weak rear end or wobbly walk. All of these signs mean your pet needs a trip to the veterinarian to determine what’s causing the dehydration and the best ways to get his fluid levels back to normal. When pets become dangerously dehydrated or aren't capable of drinking enough on their own, they typically need to have an IV put in to drive lifesaving fluids. Other times, giving fluids subcutaneously is enough.

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