When your dog is poorly one of the biggest concerns is always dehydration. This is particularly worrying if they are experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea or are refusing liquids. Lack of fluids in the body and your dog’s inability to replace them can lead to dehydration, which can cause serious long-term health problems and if left unchecked can kill. Dealing with your dog’s fluid intake quickly is just as important as finding out the root cause of the problem.
Of course, your first call should be to your veterinarian to look for underlying problems and assess the health and wellbeing of your dog. But, there are steps you can take to aid your veterinarian in this assessment and keep your dog’s fluids up in the meantime. One such step that many owners take is to introduce Pedialyte to their dog’s diet. Is this safe to do and if so, how much should you be giving your dog?
What is Pedialyte?
Pedialyte is a hydration solution that is designed to replenish the fluids, nutrients and minerals that can be lost when experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. It can also be used to replace normal fluid intake when this has been restricted by illness or injury. It is formulated for human use and specifically for use in young children.
It is preferred to over other drinks because it meets medical guidelines for preventing dehydration and includes important electrolytes, including potassium, sodium and chloride, which are often missing in other drinks used for rehydration purposes.
Is it Safe for Dogs?
While primarily designed for human consumption, there is general agreement that Pedialyte is safe for use in dogs to reduce the risk of dehydration or to reverse the signs and symptoms of early dehydration.
Correct Dosage of Pedialyte for Dogs
The first thing to realize when considering Pedialyte for your dog is that there are several different Pedialyte products available on the market. Some are already diluted, while others need to have water added to them. If purchasing one that requires dilution, this should only every be done with water. Using sugary drinks could make your dog’s condition worse as well as being bad for their dental and general health.
There is some debate over the correct dosage for dogs. However, most experts agree that the amount should be determined by your dog’s weight. Generally, for a dog weighing between 40 and 50 pounds, it is recommended that you use half a cup of diluted Pedialyte. This dose should be given roughly once an hour. As a general guide you should not exceed 4 cubic centimeters of Pedialyte per pound of weight.
If your dog refuses the Pedialyte, you can try a flavored version. There are currently four flavors available and all of them are safe to use with your dog, although they may not take to the bubblegum flavor. If changing the flavor does not work, then try using a syringe to administer the fluid. If you are taking this approach you need to ensure that the syringe is placed far enough back in your dog’s mouth that they cannot spit it straight back out. Cradling your dog’s head and tipping it upwards slightly helps to ensure that the liquid is swallowed.
As with any over the counter solution, the length of time you give this to your dog without seeking further advice from your veterinarian should be limited. If your dog shows no improvement or worsens within a day or so, then further medical support may be required.
Recognizing the Signs of Dehydration
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration so that you can take effective action before long term damage occurs. Dogs’ bodies are roughly 60% water, and this is essential to dissolving foods and eliminating toxins. Just a small drop in their fluid intake can cause a build up of toxins that causes problems with their organs. Left untreated the damage can be irreversible.
Key symptoms to look for include:
- Abnormal panting
- Dry eyes, nose, and mouth
- Decreased elasticity in the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced energy levels
In later stages of dehydration, the gums lose moistness and become sticky and dry, the eyes become sunken, and dogs can collapse with shock. If your dog exhibits any of these signs immediate medical care is required.
Early intervention is always recommended, and any concerns should be referred to your veterinarian. Changes in your dog’s behavior or routine are often the first signs that something is wrong or that they are not feeling quite themselves. However, it is also important to note that Pedialyte is not an alternative to offering your dog access to plenty of fresh clean water and it should not be given to healthy dogs as it can upset their natural electrolyte balance.
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