Dehydration describes the excessive loss of body water. If fluid is not replaced, a dangerous dryness of the body may develop.
The symptoms of dehydration appear rather slower. Typical appearances are lethargy, gaze feeling, inactivity, sleepiness but also seizures. When examining the mucous membranes, you will determine that they are very dry, such as the skin and tongue are. Fever or a reduced urine discharge may also occur. In particularly serious cases, breakdowns may result.
The fluid loss, liquid intake being insufficient or impairments of the metabolism may result in dehydration. Chronic diarrhea, chronic vomiting or diabetes insipidus and some kidney diseases are typical symptoms, or disease patterns, which may cause dehydration. Physical excessive strain with hot temperatures and insufficient amount of drinking, burns or severe loss of blood as result of injuries are also typical causes of dehydration. Several forms of dehydration are distinguished, which are characterized by differently severe loss of water and salt (sodium) and a different symptomatology: Isotone dehydration: Balanced proportion of water and sodium loss hypotonic dehydration: Larger sodium than water loss hypertonic dehydration: Lager water than sodium loss
The diagnosis can normally be made by the veterinarian by means of a conversation with the owner and a simple, physical examination. Indications, such as dry mucous membranes or reduced skin tension confirm the suspicion resulting from the conversation. During the therapy, primarily lack of liquid is balanced. Often mineralized drinks like water, mineral water or some types of fruit infusions are sufficient. In particularly severe cases, infusions of liquids and mineral materials shall be given. The next therapeutic step is the elimination of the cause of dehydration. In case of a triggering underlying disease (e.g. kidney disease) that one shall be treated because this will also remove the lack of liquid.
The risk of dehydration should not be underestimated. In case you notice first indications of the clinical picture, then you should immediately give your animal something to drink and deliver it from any activity. In case of severe symptoms (e.g. collapse) you should immediately consult a veterinarian. Please do never give your animal anything to drink in case it lost its consciousness.