Summer isn't the only time your pet can get dehydrated.
Many pet owners assume their pet is well hydrated because they drink a lot of water, when, in fact, this can be a sign of dehydration. In addition to weather conditions, underlying diseases can also cause dehydration in a pet.
Dehydration occurs when the body either has less intake of water or increased loss of fluids. When an animal is dehydrated, it tends to drink more to try to make up for the low internal fluid level. Signs of dryness and weakness are therefore symptoms of dehydration.
If your pet is lethargic or has sticky gums, sunken eyes, flaky skin, or a dry nose, it might be dehydrated. One of the easiest ways to check for dehydration is to pinch the skin on the back of a mammal's neck. It should snap back into place if the pet has sufficient fluids. If not, the skin will remain tented, slowly returning to its normal state.
Heat stress can result in panting and fever in a dog or cat, which leads to fluid loss and subsequent dehydration. Other underlying diseases that can cause faulty fluid retention include kidney disease and diabetes.
Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to dehydration because fluid is lost during the process. While an episode of vomiting and diarrhea may only last 24 hours, excessive frequency of the event can lead to secondary dehydration that needs to be addressed in addition to the vomiting and diarrhea- even if these ailments have resolved themselves.
Dehydration can be fatal if not addressed properly or in a timely manner. However, acute cases are commonly reversible and chronic cases can be eased with continued treatment, such as fluid therapy and water retention medications.