Recently, I have been seeing an abnormal number of dogs with sudden severe diarrhea. As with us, it is difficult to tell when and if a dog needs to go to the veterinarian or simply let the upset clear up on its own. If a dog does not become dehydrated, it may be okay to wait before making a vet appointment. If dehydration does occur, it can cause severe medical problems for your dog. But how does an owner tell if their dog is dehydrated?
The Old Fashioned Way of Testing for Dehydration in Dogs
The Skin Tent- For years, veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other dog related professionals have been taught the “tent method” for determining a dog’s hydration. To perform the tent, you simply grab the skin and fur on the nape of your dog’s neck and pull it away from the neck.
Good hydration- The skin and fur immediately fall back to the neck
Mild-Moderate dehydration- The skin and fur slowly fall to the neck
Severe Dehydration- The skin and fur stays “tented” away from the neck
But there is a problem with the “Tent Method”- by the time a dog’s skin and fur tent, it is so dehydrated that serious problems are occurring to its’ heart, kidneys, liver and other vital organs.
A Better Method for Testing for Dehydration in Your Dog
Capillary Refill Time (CRT)- Capillary refill times will alert owners to dehydration or poor circulation much sooner so proper treatment can be initiated earlier. To perform the CRT, just lift your dog’s lip and push on the pink part of his gums with your thumb. Count how quickly the white impression of your thumb on the gum returns to pink again.
0-1 second- Excellent hydration
1 ½ -2 seconds- Mild to moderate dehydration
>than 2 seconds- Severe dehydration
Dogs with a CRT of 1 ½ seconds or more needs veterinary care. Their diarrhea has caused dehydration or your dog has poor blood circulation, which is also serious and requires veterinary attention.
At The Well Dog Place we welcome the opportunity to show dog owners this life-saving technique at their dog’s wellness exam.