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Dehydration is defined as an excess loss of body fluids. Usually it involves loss of both water and electrolytes (which are minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium). Electrolytes aid in a number of vital bodily processes. They are directly involved in heart and nerve functions, muscle control and coordination, and the body's ability to absorb fluids all depend on a healthy balance of electrolytes. A delicate balance must be maintained for proper functioning of the nerves and muscles.
Unfortunately, the delicate balance of electrolytes can be easily disrupted. Dehydration in cats occurs pretty quickly because of their usual small size. It is extrememly important for kitty owners to realize how rapidly fatal this condition is.
Causes of Dehydration
· Increased urination, due to various reasons
· Kidney problems
· Heatstroke and fever
· Shock, which is a lack of blood flow
· Not drinking enough water
· Only eating dry cat food. Cats eating only dry foods tend to drink more water than cats eating moist canned foods.
Signs of Dehydration
1)Loss of skin elasticity: test this by picking up your cat's skin along her back. Let it go. It should spring right back into place. If not, that is a sure sign of illness and dehydration.
2)Thick saliva: touch your cat's gums. They should be wet with liquidy saliva, not jello-like saliva.
3)Fatigue and lethargy
4)Constipation may be a sign of not enough fluids in bowels.
5)Increased heart rate may indicate dehydration. Call vet for consultation.
6)If your cat shows sunken eyeballs you need to bring her to the vet ASAP.
Please note that only moderate to serious dehydration is easily detected. Your cat is most likely to be affected by dehydration before you notice any obvious signs.
Preventing and treating dehydration in cats
Keep your cat hydrated at all times. Especially before stressful events (even "good stress") you may want to overhydrate your cat. Stressful events may reduce your cat's sensation of thirst.
For mild feline dehydration...
*add a little liquid to food
*offer an electrolyte solution to help your cat retain fluids (pedialyte or Gatorade can be combined with water and then offered.)
*offer ice chunks to encourage slow water intake
*give water by medicine syringe, right into the mouth.
(Note, if your cat has not been drinking enough, offer water frequently but only a little at a time as your cat may not be able to hold much water at the beginning.)
*for severe dehydration, especially if you see sunken eyes, get your cat to the vet asap.
Finally,fresh filtered water may help encourage your finicky cat to drink water.
Treatment: A cat that is showing severe symptoms of dehydratation should receive prompt veterinary attention. Treatment is directed at replacing fluids and preventing further losses.
In mild cases without vomiting, fluids can be given by mouth. If the cat won't drink, give an electrolyte solution by syringe into the side of the mouth. Pedialyte or if kitty has a sweet-tooth, Gatorade can be used for treating dehydration. They are given at the rate of two to four milliliters per pound body weight per hour, depending on the severity of the dehydration (or as directed by your veterinarian).