In the dry climate of Arizona, especially during the summer when it is hot the heat can cause several health problems in people and our 4 legged family members. I have had personal experience with my first dog a Bearded Collie named Joshua, becoming dehydrated after a strenuous hike. It was a scary and dangerous situation.
Just like in people, When a dog’s body gets to the point where normal fluid intake fails to make up for water loss, the blood flow and the volume of fluids is reduced, which reduces the delivery of oxygen to organs and tissue. Dehydration people and in dogs also results in a loss of electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. These minerals have important functions in the body:
- Balancing the body’s pH.
- Moving nutrients into cells.
- Facilitating muscle function.
- Regulating nerve function.
In the most serious cases of canine dehydration, the severe shortage of fluids can even lead to kidney and other organ failure and to death.
How to tell if your dog may be dehaydrated
Jeff did a quick video detailing what to look for to tell if your dog may be dehydrated:
For those of you who would prefer to read, rather than watch, here’s a quick summary of what was discussed in the video:
- Loss of skin elasticity.
- Dry nose.
- Dry, sticky gums
- Thick saliva
- Excessive Panting.
As it worsens you may see
- Loss of appetite.
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea.
- Reduced energy levels and lethargy.
- Sunken, dry-looking eyes.
Some ways to protect your dog:
- First and foremost, always provide cool, fresh water for your dog.
- Keeping them out of direct sun and offering plenty of shade. When temperatures near triple digits bring them in to the air conditioning.
- Limit exercise and walks in the hottest part of the day. Remember on long hikes many dogs run up and back increasing the distances they travel often to more than twice of what you are walking. Bring plenty of water for you and your dog when hiking.
- In AZ, NEVER leave your dog alone in the car with windows up and AC off. The internal temperature of an enclosed vehicle can double from the outside ambient temperature.
- Protect your dog’s paws when walking on hard hot surfaces.
I have big dogs and one of them is a little finicky when it comes to drinking water. Rudy fancies himself an aristocrat and will not drink if his water is not in a certain dish and very fresh. Several years ago, as a way of increasing his water intake, my wife started adding about 2 cups of water to his dry food.
Our dogs are an integral part of our family. They provide plenty of affection, socialization, exercise and entertainment. Our dogs depend upon us to keep them healthy and safe. We hope this little bit of information helps you do the same for yours!