Hydration is absolutely essential not just for humans, but also for dogs. In hot weather conditions, no amount of water will quench your thirst or replenish the essential minerals lost due to sweating.
This is why sports drinks like Gatorade are recommended as it contains sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Gatorade can also replace all the essential fluids we lose during long stints in the outdoors. It is also the perfect drink if you’re down with vomiting and diarrhoea and have lost fluids rapidly within a short period of time.
It is established that Gatorade works well in humans, but what about dogs?
Can Dogs Drink Gatorade?
Yes, dogs can drink Gatorade. But, that said, here are some aspects to keep in mind.
- Introduce slowly
If your dog has been having vomiting and passing diarrhea, but only a few episodes and looks good otherwise, hold back fluids. There is something wrong and the dog’s digestive system is trying to flush out those toxins from the body.
Introduce water slowly, ideally a few sips at a time only. This is to avoid a scenario where your dog drinks a bowl of water and throws it all up again. That’s even worse. Ideally, give a little water and wait for some time to see if the dog is able to keep it within the body. If he doesn’t throw up, offer a little more water, say after about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep giving water until your dog doesn’t want to drink it anymore.
You can substitute water with Gatorade at any time or you can fully give only Gatorade. It is up to you.
The same applies to food too. Introduce it slower than water because your dog can go without food as long as it stays hydrated. If there is no vomiting or diarrhea for a few hours, give a small portion of bland food and see his reaction. If he is able to keep the food also in, introduce more bland food between intervals.
- Sugar and sodium
One aspect to keep in mind is Gatorade has good amounts of sugar and sodium. Though it is good to replenish the lost fluids, there’s a caveat here. Keep in mind that the dog is smaller than us, which means the dog’s organs will be smaller than ours.
We may be able to gulp down a bottle of Gatorade to feel better and it is actually good for us because our kidneys can handle the sugar and sodium present in it. But, the same can’t be said for dogs. They can’t process additives like us, so the high levels of sodium and sugar can lead to more complications.
Frequent intake of Gatorade puts a lot of pressure on the dog’s kidneys to process them and send out the extra minerals out of the body. This stress can lead to kidney infections and maybe even stones over time.
So, what can you do?
Give Gatorade, but in small amounts only. Just make them take a few sips at a time instead of emptying the entire bottle.
Again this is not easy because your dogs may not want to drink more of this to quench their thirst and also because it tastes good. It is up to you to keep control over the intake and ensure that your dog doesn’t drink more than a few sips at a time.
How to Give Gatorade?
If you decide to give Gatorade to your dog, mix it with water ideally in a 50 – 50 ratio. This means to fill a bottle with Gatorade up to the halfway mark and fill the rest with water. This way, the dog gets sufficient nutrients and at the same time, the presence of sodium and sugar doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your dog’s organs.
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If the vomiting and diarrhea are not so serious or if you want to just keep your dog hydrated during the hot summer months, you can freeze Gatorade into small ice cubes and make the dog work for its treatment. Again, be wary of the situation. if your dog is already throwing up, this may not be a fun thing for him to do.
When Should you Give Gatorade?
Many experts recommend that you give Gatorade only when the dog is severely dehydrated and has had high bouts of vomiting and diarrhea within a short period of time. In all other cases, water is enough to keep your dog hydrated, as this way, you can avoid the sugar and sodium that comes in Gatorade.
Also, remember that Gatorade and other sports drinks do not come from natural sources. If you go to Gatorade’s website, it clearly says that it is a “Drink made in the lab.” Depending on your thoughts and opinions, you can either conclude that it was done after extensive research to ensure that it contains the right ingredients to replenish the body or you can see it as a cosmetic drink that was made by machines.
Regardless of how you see it, keep the intake in moderation.
In short, dehydration can be a serious condition in your dog and if you leave it untreated, it can lead to even fatal situations. So, it is best you keep a tab on your dog and its activities, especially during the summer months.
Though you may want to hydrate your dog with Gatorade because of the electrolytes present in it, you need to exercise some moderation. Never let the dog finish the entire bottle of Gatorade undiluted. This could cause serious damage. So, dilute the Gatorade with water and allow the dog to take a few sips at a time only.
For some reason, if you are unable to get a bottle of Gatorade, don’t worry. There are many sports drinks available today that come with electrolytes and these drinks are a good replacement for Gatorade. Even plain old water with salt and sugar can help your dog to withstand the heat and dehydration.
- Dehydration in Dogs, PetMD
- Laura Playforth, MSc, Dehydration in Dogs, What Are The Signs And Symptoms?, VetsNow