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What To Do If Your Dog Is Dehydrated and Won’t Drink?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dehydration in dogs occurs when they don't have enough water in their system and can be a sign of a serious health issue.
  • Signs of dehydration include foaming at the mouth, slow skin elasticity, heavy panting, fatigue, and changes in behavior.
  • To encourage your dog to drink, check if their water bowl location or type is causing an issue, mix their food with water, reduce anxiety, or visit a vet if they appear ill.
  • Dehydration should be treated quickly as it can lead to organ failure or death.
  • Smaller, active dog breeds are more prone to dehydration and may need extra attention in hot weather.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Veterinarian and veterinary microbiologist working as a veterinary science lecturer at the UVAS, Lahore.
Published on
Tuesday 27 July 2021
Last updated on
Wednesday 5 July 2023
dog that is dehydrated
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To know our dog is feeling unwell is always unpleasant. However, the more serious things get the more we find ourselves frantically searching the internet for help. One of these instances is a dog not drinking. If you see your dog is dehydrated, immediately you would want to know how to make your dog drink.

Today we are going to discuss what your options are and when you need to visit a vet. There are a lot of things you can do at home. However, it is important to know when to stop and take them to the vet. We are also going to look at symptoms of dehydration so you can spot it early on. This may mean you can easily treat it at home and get your dog feeling better as soon as possible. So let’s have a look at what to do if your dog won’t drink.

Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration in dogs is when a dog does not have enough water in their system and is therefore not functioning well. The importance of water being supplied to an animal is crucial. Without food, many animals can survive weeks, without water many animals can barely survive three days. Therefore, this is a crucial issue concerning your dog’s health which needs to be identified and dealt with swiftly.

Dog dehydration can be a minor issue. In the case of it being a hot summer’s days and your dog is playing a lot, they may need to sit down and have a big drink to feel better. However, it can also be a sign of disease or even organ failure. With the possible consequence of death existing as well, it is not an issue you should take lightly. Instead, you need to be aware of when it is occurring and what could be inducing it.

Signs of Dehydration

Some of the main signs of dehydration include:

  • Foaming at the mouth
  • When gently pinching the skin, it will take a long time to return to its normal shape
  • Panting: especially panting heavily and for a long time
  • Occasional gagging
  • Fatigue: difficulty moving or getting up, or slow movements
  • Becoming unresponsive: not moving when touched; not moving when called; eyes struggle to focus; eyelids remain closed, the head begins to droop
  • Change in behavior
  • Drinking a lot of water or more than normal
  • Drooling

The key here is to be aware when your dog’s behavior becomes abnormal. If they begin to act differently then this is a sign that something may be wrong. Whether this is in their physical state or behavior. Noticeable signs of dehydration are most commonly fatigue, panting, and foaming at the mouth. When we mention foaming at the mouth we do not mean in the characteristics associated with rabies. It is more of frothy drool due to a lack of water in their mouths. Noticing one of these symptoms is when you should stop what you are doing to observe for more symptoms to confirm your suspicions.

How to Make Your Dog Drink?

In order to encourage your dog to drink you need to find the proper cause. Therefore we have listed some of the most common causes that you can fix at home, and how to do so. Take a look below:

  • Their water bowl has changed locations – you can either change it back or encourage them to drink from the new location
  • They don’t like or are afraid of their water bowl – consider changing it. For example, if it is ceramic, try metal, or even consider a raised bowl so it does not move
  • Your dog is older: sometimes you can mix your dog’s food with a little bit of water to help them stay hydrated. As they age they can become forgetful or sleep for longer periods of time and therefore drink less
  • Anxiety – Making sure the location is quiet, your dog does not feel too exposed, and is often near their bed can help reduce anxiety
  • Illness – If you suspect your dog is ill it is time for a vet visit. Even if it turns out to just be a little bug that will go away, that confirmation is important

There are also hydrating supplements or those with electrolytes that can be less strenuous to get down when your dog is avoiding water. Just make sure to get your vet’s opinion first.

watermelons as water alternatives
If your dog stands its ground of not drinking water, fresh fruits like watermelons are good alternative ways to hydrate your dog.

My Dog Won’t Drink Water!

We have searched the internet for the most frequently asked questions concerning your dog not drinking and answered them below.

Can dogs recover from dehydration?

Dogs can definitely recover from dehydration. However, it needs to be treated quickly, and the faster it is, the quicker and better the recovery. The issue can be quite common, but identifying the cause and taking them for a vet visit can be the factor that helps your pet if it is a dire situation.

How is dehydration treated for dogs?

If your dog is severely dehydrated then a vet will immediately put them onto an IV drip. These are hydrating bags that are gradually given to your dog through a needle to help hydrate their body. Vets will also run tests to determine the severity of the dehydration if the symptoms do not appear to be severe. If the case is identified to be more mild, then your dog will be given oral rehydration solutions and the cause will then be investigated to prevent a re-occurrence.

How harmful is dehydration in dogs?

This is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Organ failure and even death can be the consequence of untreated dehydration. It could be a simple cause that can be treated easily, but it should never be left. If your dog’s behavior changes significantly or you notice lethargy and other concerning behaviors then this can signify moderate to severe dehydration. As opposed to mild dehydration which is often shown through a dog that is a little tired and frothing a little at the mouth. Test the elasticity of their skin to identify how severe their dehydration is.

Why is dehydration common during summer?

The hot temperatures lead to more water loss. Firstly your dog will pant more and this leads to water loss through drool. Furthermore, they may forget to drink while playing in the warm weather which then creates a cycle of drooling and not replenishing the water. Furthermore, if you take your dogs on long walks or leave them out to play in the backyard it is important to check they have water available. Beyond that, try to call in your dog often for a drink break as they may get too excited and forget to do so.

Are some breeds more prone to dehydration than others?

Smaller dog breeds who are very active are at the most risk of dehydration. This is because they can lose water through sweating and drooling when they are being active which is often. Furthermore, due to their smaller size they have less water in their bodies so can easily become dehydrated.

How much water should a dog drink?

On average, a dog should drink about 1 oz of water per pound of body weight per day. There are eight fluid ounces in one cup so the below table can be used directionally as a quick guide. For reference, common bottle water brands typically hold 16.9 fluid oz of water per bottle. According to the table, a 15 lb dog should be hydrating with about one bottle of water per day. Find out the Chart below, a breed-wise comparison of water intake with dry food and wet food respectively.

Dog dehydration is a serious issue that you should deal with as soon as symptoms become visible. A vet visit is often needed if you cannot identify the cause and find a solution quickly. From creating a quiet environment to drink in to changing your dog’s water bowl can all help them feel encouraged to drink. This is why it is so important to try to identify the issue to provide the right solution.

However, if your dog appears moderately to severely dehydrated then a vet visit is the cause of action you should choose to make sure your dog is not suffering from an illness and is being re-hydrated quickly. If the cause is easily solvable at home, you can do so once they return more hydrated.

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