Dear Dr. Jackson,
I have 3 pets and try to take good care of them. My kitten is sick and I am concerned about dehydration. I haven’t seen her drink much water although she still is eating. What signs and symptoms should I look for? B.R.
Several readers have asked me the same question, which leads me to believe there may be many pet owners who are unaware of the signs and seriousness associated with dehydration. Maintaining the constant fluid levels is essential to living tissues. The body fluids serve many purposes including moistening cells and transport proteins and other nutrients throughout the body.
When these fluids are depleted either due to overheating, from excessive exercise, vomiting, diarrhea, or even not receiving enough water to drink, symptoms appear such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, loss of elasticity in the skin and even extreme exhaustion. If you notice any of these symptoms and your pet has a history like mentioned above, seek advise from a veterinarian.
Hot dogs and thirsty cats generally don’t need anything more than a little rest and a long drink of cool water to prevent dehydration. But when the dehydration has already occurred, the body’s systems may start to fail. Here is a test you can use on most pets and home: Gently lift the skin along your pet’s back. Normally it will snap back into place when you let go. In dehydrated pets, however, the skin loses elasticity, causing it to stay up in a ridge. If this occurs, it’s an emergency. Get your pet to your doctor right away.