Dehydration in dogs
Water, its content and role for an organism
Water is part of cells, intercellular substance, tissue fluid and lymph. Water composes about 65%, or 2/3 of the adult mammals’ and birds’ body weight, and serves as a various substances solvent.
Animals deprived of water die in a very short term. A well-nourished dog can bear starvation for up to 100 days, provided that it is supplied with water. But without water it dies in 10 days. Only 10% water loss causes hard pathological changes, and 15-20% water loss implies death.
An organism gets water when drinking and eating, and this water is absorbed unchanged in the bowels. Water duty varies depending on the food composition, the dog’s physiological state, external environment conditions, etc. For example, when the dog is fed with dry feed, apt to high exercise stress, or if the weather is hot, the water duty is greater.
The organism’s water duty is regulated by thirst. The water that gets into organism must fully compensate for the constant water losses with urine, sweat, excrements, exhaled air, as the amount of water excreted from the organism is always a little higher than that consumed with food or drink.
If the organism is short of water…
When the organism starts consuming less water, or when the water loss is great (e.g., with vomiting, liquid stool, excessive urination (polyuria)), the organism gets dehydrated. All the chemical transformations take place only in water solutions. So, this state is dangerous, as it causes blood clotting and metabolic disease. Externally, it is characterized by general weakness, skin flexibility loss, visible mucous tunics dryness (tunica mucosa of mouth, nose, and conjunctiva), sunken eyes. As dehydration is progressing, a state of shock appears (hypovolemic shock), and if the fluid in not compensated in time, the result is death.
Do not mix up dehydration with hemorrhage. These two notions are quite different, as when dehydrated, the organism loses only water and electrolytes, and when the hemorrhage takes place, it also loses the blood cells (erythrocytes) and plasma proteins necessary for normal life of any animal.
There are several degrees of dehydration, but at home, it is hard to define the degree of dehydration for a dog owner.
The following dehydration symptoms should alert you:
- the early symptoms of dogs dehydration are sluggishness, bad mood, depression
- your pet’s appetite loss and anorexia and (or) refusal from drink for one, maximum two days
- repeated vomiting or liquid stool for several hours, maximum one day, and fever and excessive urination.
These symptoms are typical of a number of diseases, that is why if your pet has at least one of them, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Before you get to the pet hospital, you can try feeding on water by force, with a spoon or a syringe and try feeding, but only in case if the animal is not vomiting. If it is, the animal should not take food, because this provokes new bokes and aggravates the situation.