10 Ways To Avoid Dehydration

01-2013-sub1It is easier to remember to drink fluids in the summer because you know you are hot and sweating.  Though if you are waiting to drink only when you are thirsty there is a good chance you are already in mild dehydration.  This is even more important in the winter when you may not be sweating but you are losing moisture to the dry air and lack of proper fluids taken in during the winter months.  You can lose between one and two quarts of water a day through evaporation in the lungs without exertion.

Dehydration during the summer months can quickly lead to over heating and move to heat exhaustion in a matter of minutes at which point you need to seek medical attention.  During the winter dehydration can accelerate hypothermia, frostbite or fatigue.  You need to pace yourself during both and be sure you are prepared before times of exertion by being hydrated before the start, replacing lost fluids on a regular basis as well as eating foods that will replenish your potassium levels.

So what are some of the signs of mild dehydration in you and your dog?  For you they include a dry mouth, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, dry skin, headaches, and feeling tired or sluggish.  Some will experience muscle cramping with more severe dehydration.  Without the proper fluid and potassium levels the cells in the body cannot function properly causing the muscles to work harder.  And for your dog it is similar to your symptoms and includes sunken eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, dry mouth and depression.  You can also do a skin pinch test on yourself and your dog.  For you it would be on the top side of your fingers between the bottom two knuckles and on your dog the skin between the shoulder blades.  When the skin is pinched and released the skin should snap back.  If it does not it could be an indicator or the onset of dehydration.

So what do you do to avoid dehydration in yourself and your dog?

  1. Drink hot water with lemon and teas instead of high caffeine beverages.
  2. Consume coconut water, banana, tomato sauce or dried fruit to add potassium.
  3. Choose low sodium foods and lock in moisture by applying oil such as coconut oil to your body after showers or baths.
  4. Men require about 3 quarts of water from all dietary sources and women about 2 quarts but could be doubled on days of high exertion or elevations over 10,000 feet.
  5. Sports drinks should contain 4-8% carbohydrate more than that can slow stomach emptying and cause abdominal cramping.
  6. Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid two hours before activity and on warm or humid days add 16-30 ounces one hour before activity. Water is fine for activities one hour and under.  Longer times should use sport drinks with 4-8% carbohydrates and small amounts of electrolytes.
  7. During activity consume 3-6 fluid ounces of fluids every 15 minutes and keep your intake of fluids up after the end of activities.
  8. Keep fresh, clean, cool water in easy access of your dog at all times and always pack extra water for trips away from home.
  9. On average a dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day, more on days of high activity.
  10. If you notice your dog is drinking less check your dog’s mouth for sores or foreign objects.

If at any time you feel your dog is suffering from dehydration you should take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.  Not only will they stabilize your dog and put them on fluids to rehydrate them, they will also be able to find the problem leading to dehydration which could include kidney disorders, cancer and infectious disease.  If you experience severe headaches, nausea, dizziness or vomiting you should go directly to an emergency room as you are in advanced stages of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

In the case of dehydration, prevention is truly worth a pound of cure for you and your dog in both winter and summer months.  So be sure to keep hydrated and remember that once you are thirsty you are already starting to dehydrate.  If you follow these steps you will prevent it from happening you or your dog while having a great time training, playing and running dog agility.

Special thanks to the www.ASPCA.org and www.sharecare.com