Published 9:02 am Thursday, August 17, 2017
BY HELEN PALMER
Last week I wrote about various stresses that affect dogs and their behavior. One of the life threatening stresses is dehydration. Here we are in August, usually one of the hottest months of the year, so it is imperative that we make sure our pets had access to cool, clean water at all times. Dr. Becker, DVM, says in her article on dehydration that if your pet is not drinking a little more water than normal, you can flavor it with homemade bone broth (she has a video on how to make it; but it is very simple.)
To make bone broth, take stripped bones and simmer them in a big stock pot with a bit of vinegar to help leach the goodness from the bones. Dr. Beck says it takes 4.5 hours for small bones and up to 24 hours for large bones. When the bones have cooked, strain the broth to remove the bones and drop a teaspoon of broth into the water bowl (or a tablespoon for large bowls) to encourage your pet to drink more water. Never give cooked bones to your pet at any time; throw the bones out.
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Dehydration decreases the blood volume which is turn reduces oxygen delivery to tissues and organs as well as affects the removal of waste products. It also throws off the balance of electrolytes such calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium which can interfere with the normal function of the body’s organs and systems, according to Dr. Becker.
Some signs that your pet is getting dehydrated include: excessive drooling, panting, kidney problems, vomiting, diarrhea or heat stroke. Very young and geriatric pets can dehydrate very quickly when vomiting or having diarrhea. A sudden decrease in body weight is an important clue that your pet has suffered an acute loss of body fluids.
In the 40-plus years I cared for my pets, I had one that came down with pancreatitis which caused her to vomit and have explosive diarrhea. The veterinarian treated her with a slow-drip intravenous (IV) for five days to re-hydrate her and get her back on her feet. Anytime you have to leave your dog at the clinic for treatment, take an old sweat top that you have slept with (so it has your scent on it) and leave it at the clinic for the personnel to place in the cage. The staff was so impressed at my dog’s reaction when she got the sweat top, they said she immediately calmed down and slept – on the garment.
I had another dog that developed diabetes insipidus which caused her to drink gallons of water – and excrete the same since her weight did not fluctuate. Once we had the diagnosis, (this is not a common ailment) we supplied pituitary hormones which she had to take for the rest of her life, which was six more years! It seemed like her pituitary gland had just shut down and it never started again.
So watch your pet’s water intake and watch for signs of dehydration during these hot days.