Dog not drinking water: How to tell if a dog is dehydrated?

Your dog is not drinking water? Here, you will learn how to tell if a dog is dehydrated (6 ways), as well as how to treat and prevent dehydration in dogs.
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Dogs usually drink a lot of water. Dehydration in dogs comes pretty quickly if they don’t drink the right amount of water they should be drinking.

If your dog isn’t interested in drinking in any way, then you’ll likely want to find out what’s going on, because it’s essential to give them fluids quickly to avoid further complications.

Like humans, about 80 percent of a dog’s body is made of water. Water provides the medium for almost all the chemical reactions and processes that keep your dog’s body functioning. 

A dog’s body will naturally lose water during the day, they lose water through panting, breathing, using the bathroom, or sweating through their paws. 

The more they lose water, the more they have to drink and eat. 

Dehydration is a condition where the loss of water from the body exceeds the amount of water that the dog is able to take in. Dehydration can turn into a serious problem in dogs. In extreme cases, a dehydrated dog can suffer organ failure, which can result in death. 

So, how to tell if a dog is dehydrated? Read on and you will find the answer to this question and much more.

In this quick guide, I’ve compiled a list of the most common causes, symptoms, and signs of dehydration in dogs and how you can prevent it, treat it, and encourage your dog to drink more.

Let’s get started.

What Causes Dehydration in Dogs?

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Dehydration is basically the lack of enough water within the body. Water is very important to your pup’s bodily functions, which include digestion, circulation, and other organ processes. 

An insufficient water intake or an extreme loss of water is the major cause of dehydration in dogs. 

This may be because of the following reasons: 

  1. Perspiration and overheating are what people believe to be the most common cause of dehydration in dogs. They perspire mainly through their paws when they exercise or exposure to hot weather.
  2. Dogs can also become dehydrated after suffering from diarrhea or vomiting. This can lead to a rapid loss of fluid in the system, which can become dangerous.
  3. Sicknesses can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and also contribute to fluid loss in the dog’s body if it leads to fever, excessive urination, thirst, decreased appetite, or extreme panting.

Signs & Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

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There are different symptoms that can indicate that your dog is suffering from dehydration, and it’s nice to know about them in case a dehydrated dog needs to see a vet very fast. 

The following are the signs & symptoms of dehydration in dogs.

1. Loss of Skin Elasticity

The easiest and the most common way to detect the symptoms of dehydration is a loss of elasticity in the dog’s skin. If you gently pull on your dog’s skin, and it doesn’t quickly return to its original position, that means your dog is probably suffering from dehydration.

2. Xerostomia (dry, Sticky Gums)

Another symptom of dehydration is xerostomia or dry mouth; this is the loss of moisture in the dog’s gum, which makes the gum become dry and sticky with thick saliva.

3. Loss of Appetite

This is another symptom of dehydration in dogs, it means that your dog will refuse to eat or drink when dehydrated. Panting, thick saliva, and vomiting are the other signs of dehydration. Your pup’s eyes may become sunken and in extreme cases, he may collapse if he is in shock.

4. Lethargy and Reduced Energy Levels

Lethargy is one of the symptoms that can indicate that your dog is suffering from dehydration, and is characterized by the dog’s lack of energy. Lethargy is one of the most serious symptoms of dehydration, and it should never be ignored. If your dog is lethargic, he needs to see a vet as soon as possible.

5. Dry and Sunken Eyes

When your pet is dehydrated, the first place you want to look is its eyes. When they are hydrated, dog eyes are bright and shiny, but if your dog is dehydrated, the whites of their eyes may take on a dull look with a dry appearance to them, which can be due to lack of moisture in the mucous lining within the eye.

6. Dry Nose

When a dog is dehydrated, the mucus membranes in his nose become dry and flaky. This makes it more difficult to breathe, and he may start sneezing or coughing. A dry nose can also make it more difficult for your dog to smell and taste things.

In many cases, a dry nose is a sign of dehydration. However, there are many other reasons your dog’s nose can become dry, including lack of air conditioning or central heating, dry air, illness, or an underlying medical condition.

Being dehydrated is not the same as being thirsty, so if your dog has a dry nose it doesn’t necessarily mean that he needs more water.

Dogs can become dehydrated for different reasons, so if you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, you should take him to the vet to determine the cause.

How to Tell if a Dog Is Dehydrated?

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To test if your dog is dehydrated, pinch the top of his head or his back between your fingers. If he is well hydrated, the skin will spring back to its original position when you release it. In the most serious case of dehydration, this will not happen due to excessive moisture being lost from his body.

Also, you can cautiously introduce a finger under your pup’s upper lip and slip in your finger over his gums. 

Is it dry and sticky, or slippery and wet? 

If it is dry and sticky, it is an indication of dehydration. 

Also, you can check your dog’s capillaries refill by pressing your finger against the dog’s gums and pulling it away. It will turn white for a moment and then turn pink as it fills with blood. In a dehydrated dog, it will take longer for the white spot to return to pink.

How to Rehydrate a Dog (step by Step)

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If you have finally identified the symptoms of dehydration in your dog, the following are the step-by-step guide on how to dehydrate your dog if you think he is dehydrated:

Step 1 – Get Your Dog Out of The Heat

The first thing to do when you think your dog is dehydrated is to take him away from the heat. Preferably, you will need to move him to a place with air conditioning, but if that is not possible, you can at least move him to a shady spot. 

Step 2 – Give Your Dog Enough Water 

The next step is to give your dog access to as much water as he needs per day. Your dog needs an ounce of water for each pound of weight each day. A ten-pound dog should get at least 40 ounces of water a day.

Step 3 – Give Your Dog Pedialyte to Drink

This is used to rehydrate kids during and after an illness. However, it works perfectly for dogs. It comes in different flavors, but your dog needs the flavorless type.

Step 4 – Feed Your Dog Ice Chips

Most illnesses prevent dogs from wanting to drink all alone. In such a situation, you can hand-feed your dog ice chips each in turn. You can take this step if Pedialyte is not working and your pup is not drinking on his own.

Step 5 – Check for The Symptoms Again

After you have performed all the steps, then you can monitor his symptoms. If your dog is still dehydrated, his skin still loses elasticity and moisture; his eyes still appear dry and his mouth still gums. Then you can take the next step, which by now is very urgent.

Step 6 – Consult Your Veterinarian

If the pup’s condition does not get better within a few days. Contacting a veterinarian is always a smart idea when your dog is sick. Your vet will diagnose the illness and the severity of dehydration and recommend the best way to get your dog back on its feet.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs?

How to prevent dehydration in dogs - what to do if my dog is dehydrated - how to tell if a dog is dehydrated

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your furry pal is properly hydrated at all times. Dogs need constant access to fresh and clean water. Without it, your dog can immediately become dehydrated; this can lead to a number of serious medical conditions and even death. 

Higher activity and High temperatures levels can also lead to your dog losing more body fluids, which will increase the risk of dehydration. This can be dangerous and can lead to organ damage and even death. 

The good news is that there are a few simple ways you can prevent dehydration in dogs and help your dog stay hydrated, the following are the ways:

  1. Keep enough clean water available at all times; don’t forget, dogs need around one ounce of water for each pound of their body weight
  2. Ensure you clean the water bowl and replace the water every day; don’t just add to what’s left. This is because bacterial can build up in the water and this can deter your dog from drinking
  3. Carry water with you when walking your dog, when on road trips, when hiking, or on long trips, so your dog can stay hydrated outside the home.
  4. For heavy drinkers, you can consider a dog-friendly fountain that keeps the water moving. This can keep it fresher and can make the water more enjoyable for your dogs. You can also add a small amount of low-sodium broth to the water; this will make drinking more interesting for your dog. Place the water in different areas of your home.

FAQ About Dehydration in Dogs

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How Do Vets Rehydrate Dogs? 

The best method veterinarians used in treating dehydration in dogs is to place them on a drip. This will prevent further dehydration and replace any already lost fluids.

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?

Dogs can survive for 2-3 days without water. But you shouldn’t subject your dog to this simply because he can survive days without water. When a dog becomes dehydrated, it affects all the processes in his body.

How Much Water Does a Dog Need to Not Suffer From Dehydration?

Ensure your dog gets at least one ounce of water per day for every pound he weighs. This means that a 20 pound (ca. 9 kg) dog needs a minimum of 20 ounces (ca. 592 ml) of water a day.

What Should I Do if My Dog Is Dehydrated?

You can give your dog small sips of water every few minutes. Also, give him a piece of ice to lick or mix electrolyte replacement powder with the water for him. However, drinking too much water too quickly can lead to vomiting, which will make dehydration worse. Consult your veterinarian for further recommendations.

Why Is Dehydration in Dogs so Dangerous?

Dogs become dehydrated if they lose too much water or when they don’t drink enough water. What makes dehydration very dangerous in these dogs is that it can reduce the quantity of blood in the body; this can put pressure on the heart and can lead to shock. The shock is a dangerous decrease in blood pressure and can be deadly.


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Dehydration in dogs is a life-threatening condition that can be easily prevented and treated. If you own a dog, it is important to learn how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration in dogs.

If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

They can assess your dehydrated dog, rehydrate him quickly, and look for any underlying problems

I hope this blog has provided you with the information you needed to know about dehydration in dogs. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Until next time!

A big hug.

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Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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