Dehydration (hypohydration) is a serious, life-threatening condition consisting of an excessive loss of water and electrolytes (minerals such as sodium, chlorine, and potassium) from the body.
Most animals are made up of at least 60% water . When the water ratio drops 5% below normal, cats begin to show signs of dehydration.
Kittens, older cats, and those with medical conditions are at increased risk for dehydration.
Cats that eat only dry food are more likely to become dehydrated than cats fed a diet of canned foods, which can contain up to 80 percent water.
Causes of dehydration in cats
Dehydration can be due to a reduction in water consumption or a loss of fluids due to excessive urination, vomiting or diarrhea. Dehydration involves an important fluid imbalance to keep the cat’s body temperature stable.
- Any illness that causes loss of appetite and thirst.
- Increased urination – Conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease in which the cat urinates more often, can lead to excessive fluid loss
- Vomiting and / or diarrhea.
- Thyroid hormone is a diuretic, which means that it stimulates the production of urine.
- Loss of blood.
- The lack of available drinking water.
Symptoms of dehydration in cats
Dehydration has three levels:
- Mild dehydration: up to 5% dehydration.
- Moderate dehydration: 5 – 10% dehydration.
- Severe dehydration: 10% or more dehydration.
The signs of dehydration in cats would be:
- Sunken eyes in cats.
- Low elasticity of the skin.
- Incrise of cardiac frecuency.
- Increased time needed for hair recovery.
- Loss of appetite
- Increase or decrease in water intake.
- Constipation, if the cat becomes dehydrated, the body will try to conserve water by eliminating extra water from the stool.
How to tell if a cat is dehydrated
I show you two home tests to check for possible dehydration:
Skin turgor test
Grab some skin on the back of the neck and gently pull up. When a cat is balanced, its fur recovers in seconds. The skin will take longer to recover if the cat is dehydrated. The more severe the dehydration, the more it will cost the skin to heal.
This test is not always foolproof. Older animals tend to have less elastic skin than younger animals, so their skin may not return quickly even when well hydrated.
Capillary refill time
This helps you assess your cat’s blood circulation and may indicate dehydration, heart failure, or shock. To check the capillary fill time, grab your cat’s upper lip and press down on the gum tissue. Take the pressure off and you will see a white mark on the gum where your finger was placed. Check the time it takes for the pink color to return. The longer it takes for the gums to turn pink and smooth, the more dehydrated your cat is.
In addition to these home tests, the veterinarian may consider that it is important to determine what has caused your cat’s dehydration and perform the following tests:
- Complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis to check electrolyte levels and kidney function.
- Additional tests to further investigate kidney and liver function, as well as to detect diabetes.
How to treat a dehydrated cat
The goal is to treat the underlying cause and replace fluids.
This can include:
- Medicines to treat vomiting and / or diarrhea.
- Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid replacement.
It may be necessary to administer fluids to your cat subcutaneously at home. This is a relatively simple procedure. Your vet will supply needles and syringes as well as fluids. To give fluids, lift the loose skin on the back of the neck, insert the needle under the skin, and slowly inject the fluids.
In addition to consuming fresh and clean water, to treat a dehydrated cat it is necessary to replenish electrolytes and thus restore balance to its body. To replace them, you will do so by supplying subcutaneous serum to your cat that you can buy in veterinary clinics.
In addition to supplying water to your dehydrated cat , as I have told you, you must replenish your cat’s electrolytes, for this you can make an excellent homemade serum for dehydrated cats yourself .
How to make a homemade cat serum
You must use the following ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of warm water to be able to be mineral water.
- 2 tablespoons of honey.
- 3/8 teaspoon of sea salt.
- 1/8 teaspoon potassium salt (365 mg)
- Enough water to make 2 full cups.
Preparation of the mixture:
- Put the honey in warm water and stir.
- Add the sea salt and potassium salt.
- Place the mixture in a glass bottle and add the 2 full cups of water.
- Shake well. This distributes the ingredients evenly.
- Pour some of the mixture into the dropper bottle.
- Keep the mixture in the refrigerator.
- Do not leave the homemade serum for more than 24 hours.
How to provide more fluids to your cat
Some cats can be fussy when it comes to water, if you need to provide your cat with more fluids you can try the following:
Switch to wet food: Domestic cats are descendants of animals that lived in the desert and obtained most of their water through food. Dry foods are only 10% water, compared to 70% canned or raw.
Provide fresh drinking water: Make sure to change your cat’s water at least once a day and wash the cat’s bowl, which can develop odors. If you have multiple cats, try to have several extra water bowls.
Buy a cat water fountain : these fountains provide constant, oxygenated water, and the continuous circuit can motivate your cat to drink.
Why is dehydration dangerous?
The problem with dehydration is that it deforms the organs and causes natural toxins to accumulate in the bloodstream. In turn, this makes the cat feel ill, makes it less likely to drink, and an unpleasant downward spiral develops.
Organs like the kidney are vulnerable because they depend on good circulation to do their job. The dehydrated cat has a reduced blood supply to the kidney, which means less filtering of waste products and a buildup of natural toxins.
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