Can Dogs Become Dehydrated?

Have you ever wondered whether or not your dog can be dehydrated? Dehydration in dogs is much more common than you might realize, and it can be very dangerous. In serious instances, it can even be fatal, just like it can be for humans.

In the article below, you’ll find more information about dehydration in dogs. You’ll learn some of the most common symptoms of canine dehydration, as well as some causes you may encounter with your pet as well. Read on to brush up on everything you know about dehydration in dogs and protecting your pet from this experience.

dog dehydration

Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, they could be dehydrated. 

Dry and Sticky Gums

One of the earliest signs of dehydration in dogs is dry and sticky gums. If your dog’s gums are very sticky to the touch instead of slick, this may mean they are beginning to dehydrate. Gums may also look pale or, on the other hand, may look very deep red if your dog is dehydrated.

Sticky Saliva

Sticky saliva goes along with sticky gums. Your dog’s drool may become much sticker than normal, or they may stop drooling altogether if they are in the later stages of dehydration. If your dog typically drools quite a lot and suddenly stops, especially along with other symptoms on this list, this could be a sign that they need to see an emergency vet very quickly.

Sunken Eyes

Dogs who are very dehydrated will have sunken, dry eyes. They will have a “sick” look about their eyes as a result. Your dog’s eyes may appear as though they are set further back in her head than normal, but this is actually because the skin around the eyes has dried out as a result of dehydration. In humans, this symptom occurs because the eyes lose their normal puffiness, and it’s similar in dogs.

Dry Nose

A dry nose is often a sign of dehydration in dogs. However, this is not always the case, and a dog’s nose may sometimes be warm or dry just because it’s hot outside. Consider other symptoms along with this one if you’re trying to determine whether or not your pet may be dehydrated.

Non-Elastic Skin

Skin elasticity changes when a dog becomes dehydrated. You can check your dog for dehydration by pulling up the loose skin at the back of their neck and watching how quickly it snaps back into place. If it is slow, this means they are dehydrated.

Panting, with or without Drooling

Panting is another frequent sign of dehydration; however, it is also a symptom that goes along with a wide range of other conditions in dogs. It can also just happen when a dog is hot! Consider other symptoms on this list as well if you notice your dog panting without explanation.


Finally, lethargy is commonly seen in dogs who are dehydrated. Lethargy can signify a variety of health problems as well as emotional and mental health conditions in dogs, too. On its own, lethargy doesn’t necessarily mean dehydration, but it can help you pinpoint this problem in your pet.

Causes of Dog Dehydration

There are many things that can cause a dog to become dehydrated, here are a few.


Fever can quickly cause a dog to dehydrate. The higher the fever, the more likely it will be to cause dehydration symptoms in your dog. If your dog has a fever, this typically means there’s another underlying problem going on as well, so they need to see a veterinarian to get checked out. The vet can also let you know if they are dealing with any dehydration.

Diarrhea and Vomiting

Diarrhea and vomiting cause a dog to lose a lot of fluid in a short amount of time. The longer these symptoms continue, the more likely dehydration becomes. Although dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting is dangerous at any age, it can be particularly fatal in young puppies.


If it’s very hot outside and your dog overexerts themselves in exercise or play, they may experience dehydration.


One of the most common and most dangerous causes of dehydration in dogs is heatstroke. Your dog may suffer from heatstroke if they are left in a vehicle alone even on a mild day, or if they are kept outdoors in the heat without any shade or chances to come inside.

Call Heart + Paw if Your Dog is Dehydrated

Based on the information listed above, it’s easy to see just how serious dehydration can be for your dog. By taking precautions to prevent dehydration, you will be providing them with a much safer environment and reducing the risk of this severe condition.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from dehydration, take them to the veterinarian. Your dog may need IV fluids to help recover. The sooner you respond to dehydration symptoms, the more easily your pet will be able to fully recover from the situation and get back on her feet quickly, too.

Heart + Paw is here to help with all your dog’s needs, including dehydration. Visit our locations page to find the location in your community and book an appointment online today!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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