How To Hydrate A Dog With Diarrhea

Water is vital to a dog’s life…¹

If you are a pet owner, you probably already know how important it is to keep your dog hydrated, but did you know, that if your dog loses more than 10% of the water in his body, he could get very sick and even die?

Dogs need water just like humans, and they can’t exactly tell us when they are thirsty or sick, which is why it is so important to keep an eye on their behavior and make sure they are drinking enough water.

But don’t worry, this article will quickly teach you what you need to know about your pet’s hydration, including how to save your puppy if he is sick. 

  • Signs that your dog is dehydrated from diarrhea 
  • How to hydrate a dog with diarrhea 
  • How to stop diarrhea in your dog 
  • How to hydrate your dog that is throwing up 
  • What you can give your dog for dehydration
  • How to rehydrate a dog that won’t drink
  • When you should take a dehydrated dog to the vet 
  • Conclusion

4 signs that your dog is dehydrated from diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of dehydration in pets, this can be caused by eating something that was out of their diets, but the most serious issue is the rapid loss of water that comes as a consequence of this.

A dry nose and mouth are signs of dehydration. ²

Here is how you can tell if your dog is dehydrated because of diarrhea:

  1. Dry nose and mouth 
  2. Loss of appetite 
  3. Loss of skin elasticity 
  4. Loss of coat shine

The easiest way to test these signs is to pinch and pull (gently) your dog’s skin and see if snaps back when you release it, it shouldn’t take more than a second to do so. 

Keep in mind that the most severe signs like lethargy and confusion will only appear later on, so even if your pet is not on that stage, that doesn’t mean they are healthy.

8 ways to hydrate a dog with diarrhea

So, if you have identified signs of dehydration in your dog, there are some measures you can take at home to solve that issue. Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts to save your puppy:

  1. If your dog has suffered a heat stroke, is vomiting or having diarrhea consistently, take it to the vet as soon as possible, they can administer intravenous fluids that will work much faster.
  1. If not, offer the dog running fresh water
  1. Give it ice cubs to lick
There are several ways to make water more attractive ³
  1. Mix water in his favorite food 
  1. Add flavor to water, dogs have a very sensitive taste and a lot of times, they refuse to drink water because it just doesn’t taste right for them
  1. Alternatively, try offering filtered water, tap water, and bottled. This does not make a difference to us, but your pet might just not like tap water. 
  2. Check its diet and see if you can figure out what caused the diarrhea episode, it can be the brand of dog food or something spoiled it ate. 

      8. If none of these methods are working, contact your local veterinarian. 

3 things to not do

  1. Don’t force your dog to drink water, they might be feeling nauseous and in that case, consuming anything will just make it vomit and worsen the problem for everybody.
  1. Don’t inject your dog with any fluids without consulting a professional.
  1. Don’t let the dog drink too quickly after being dehydrated, they can choke or vomit. 

How to stop diarrhea in your dog

All pet owners have had to deal with this issue once in their lifetimes, which is pretty normal considering our dogs are capable of eating anything that looks even remotely edible. That sometimes causes a diarrhea episode that is very difficult to solve, but not impossible.

The first step to every solution is recognizing the problem, so let’s talk about what may have caused your dog to be sick:

  1. Dietary indiscretions (again, your dog will eat trash if you let it)
  2. Bacterial or viral infections
  3. Intestinal parasites

Once you have identified the problem, we can start talking about effective solutions you can try at home:

For dietary indiscretions:

First thing is to make sure you clean your house regularly, keeping the trash bags out of your pet’s reach. Also, never give normal food to your dog, anything with sugar/chocolate, oil, grease, or sauce can make your dog very sick and will make its diarrhea worse.

Keep things tidy and human food out of reach ⁴

If you think the dog food might be the source of the issue, try switching it to unseasoned food. Dogs usually like carrots, beets, and rice, which is very safe and beneficial to them, as long as it is prepared without any season or additives. 

The trick here is to offer little pieces of food throughout the day. Usually dogs only eat once or twice a day but in this case, it’s better to introduce the new diet slowly. 

For bacterial or viral infections:

If the diarrhea episode comes with other symptoms such as fever, rashes, sneezing, or swollen nose, make sure to take your pet to the vet. Maybe the treatment will involve antibiotics, like doxycycline or more common drugstore remedies.

For intestinal parasites

The internal parasites can be easily detected in the dog’s feces, they usually come from dogs swallowing parasite’s eggs, in that case, diarrhea is the most common symptom.

The treatment for parasites has to involve a veterinarian, you should take your pet to a clinic as soon as possible to avoid further problems, but this can also be avoided by keeping the environment clean. 

How to hydrate a dog that is throwing up

Now, if your dog is dehydrated because he is vomiting, the situation is a bit different. You can no longer offer food mixed with water, or treat it with the Pedialyte mentioned earlier because it will cause more vomiting.  

So, what now? Well, if your dog is showing symptoms of lethargy, dizziness, and extreme fatigue, the only thing you can do is take it to the vet immediately. Trust me, you won’t have time to properly treat your pet at home if it’s already very sick.

If that is not the case, there are other steps to follow:

  1. If the vomiting is going one for just one day, there is not much reason to worry. Just make sure to not offer solid food for 12 hours, and offer small amounts of water throughout the day.
If you can, feed your dog bland food such as chicken
and rice ⁵
  1. If it goes on for more than a day and the pet is not drinking water properly, make sure to only give it bland food such as carrots, rice, beets, and some other vegetables that are completely unseasoned and see how they react to it.
  1. Mix water with this bland food.
  1. If your dog still refuses to eat and drink water or is still vomiting, take it to the vet immediately.

What you can give a dog for dehydration

After consulting with your local veterinarian for the dosage, you can try to give your dog Pedialyte. It is a quick way to safely hydrate your dog, and help replenish fluids and minerals with a simple electrolyte solution.

I have had to use this injection once in my dog with the help of a vet after a scary episode, and it was a very effective product. 

If your dog isn’t vomiting, you can also try the oral solution, offering only tablespoons at a time. The side effects of this drug can include nausea and vomiting which can be decreased if you only use it in small amounts at once.

How to rehydrate a dog that won’t drink

Okay, but what should you do if your dog does not have diarrhea and is not vomiting, he just doesn’t want to drink water? Dogs should be drinking 90ml of water per kilo each day, but we know that sometimes they just refuse to drink water for “no reason”, and it can cause dehydration.

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that dogs are way more sensitive than we are when it comes to taste, so have you ever thought about changing the type of water you’re giving to your dog?

The differences between tap water, bottled water, and filtered water might not seem significant to us, but to our pets, it definitely is. Make sure to change the type of water from time to time and see which one your pet prefers.

Try using running water with your dog, such as a
hose ⁶

If that doesn’t work, provide a source of running water such as a hose or tap. That way your dog can have fun while drinking water, and it will become used to the habit. 

If that also doesn’t work, mix water in your pet’s favorite food so it is at least consuming the minimum amount of daily water. Alternatively, you can add flavor to the water, such as low sodium beef broth and that will certainly get your pet to try out the water. 

When you should take a dehydrated dog to the vet

I’ve mentioned a few times throughout the article that there are situations where you just have to bite the bullet and take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible, and dehydration is a big problem to leave unnoticed. 

As you could imagine, your dog should not go without water for more than one day max, before it starts showing severe signs of dehydration, that can cause death. Yeah, I know, sorry for the scare, but you just need to hear it to become aware of the danger.

The usual recommendation is: Always keep an eye on your pet, if it stops drinking water, you should try all of the methods provided in this guide before taking further action. After all, most times these things can be solved at home with no problem.

However, if your dog doesn’t respond well to these techniques, don’t force it to drink water, just take him to a vet. There, certified professionals can administer intravenous injections that will save your dog much quicker and much more effectively.

To make this simple, here are some signs of an emergency that you absolutely can’t disregard:

  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Shivering 
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unconsciousness


Dehydration is caused when the body disposes of more water than it is taking in, for dogs, that process is mainly due to evaporation trough paws and urine. Especially in the heat, dogs need water to cool themselves out, otherwise, they can have heat strokes.

Train your dog to drink the appropriate amount of water every day (90ml per kilo) and make sure you know how to react if he is dehydrated.

I hope you have extracted important information from this article that will help you understand and take care of your dog in the case of dehydration. Even though it is a very dangerous situation, most cases are not too serious and I’m sure you will make the right calls to protect your puppy!

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Linoleum Magazine on Unsplash

² Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

³ Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash

⁴ Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash