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Dehydration is where the body gets deficient in water and it can very quickly become a serious condition. Animals can go without food for many weeks but most animals cannot survive without water for more than a few days. Dehydration can come on very quickly, so early identification is vital.

Dehydration can be caused simply by not drinking water but also by some other factors like:

  • When they are unconscious 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Loss of fluids from wounds or burns
  • Diabetes 
  • Being in excessive heat
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • And many other medical conditions.

The vet would often treat dehydration with the use of intravenous drips where a solution is added directly to the venous system to quickly and efficiently increase their hydration levels. This can also be carried out when they are unconscious.

From a first aid perspective, we cannot give intravenous fluids, so the first thing would be to avoid them becoming dehydrated in the first place by ensuring they have lots of fresh clean water at all times.

You can check the hydration levels in the body by pinching the skin on the back of the neck and it should return to its original position almost instantly. If you can still see the pinched skin for more than 2 seconds after you let go, they are dehydrated and need veterinary attention.

You cannot force an animal to drink so if you are concerned about dehydration, contact your vet immediately. Sometimes adding a flavour to the water may make them drink but be careful about giving lots of milk as this can upset their stomach, giving them diarrhoea which will make the dehydration worse.

Other things you can do is to eliminate as many of the causes as possible. Things like, not letting them get too hot, treating fevers correctly, feeding correctly and monitoring water intake levels.