Will Gatorade Help a Sick Dog?

Ah, the stomach flu. A sickness that brings grown men to their knees (quite literally), and makes even the bravest souls queasy at the mere mention of its name. Once you are up for liquids after a bout with the stomach flu, Gatorade feels like a major indulgence. That sugary/salty goodness doing down a parched throat is the ultimate reward after a battle with the bug. So, naturally, your dog should feel the same way after bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, right? Before you go reaching for the G2, let's look at some of the questions regarding this sports drink and how it affects your dog: 

1. Will Gatorade Help a Sick Dog? 

When people are violently ill, we hear the expression "sick as a dog" tossed around. It makes sense! Dogs make horrific noises when their stomach contents are on their way out. But while Gatorade may make a human who is "sick as a dog" feel better, it's not a good idea to give to your ill canine companion. While it's true that dogs can become dehydrated quickly during stomach upset, Gatorade contains a lot of sugar and sodium that can make your dog's condition worse. Dog's organs are smaller than ours, so processing massive amounts of electrolytes is harder for them than it is for us. 

2. What Can I Give My Dog Instead? 

Ideally, any pet that has experienced multiple bouts of vomiting and diarrhea should be evaluated by a veterinarian for signs of dehydration. If your pet is dehydrated, the safest and most effective method of replenishing lost electrolytes is through IV or subcutaneous fluids administered by a veterinary clinic. However, in cases where medical attention may not be readily available or possible, Pedialyte is preferred over Gatorade. Since it is formulated for children, Pedialyte contains smaller amounts of electrolytes and sugar than most sports drinks. Additionally, you can find clear, unflavored Pedialyte to cut down on sugar and dyes. Anytime Pedialyte is given, it should be diluted with water, with a 50/50 mix being ideal. If your dog has been vomiting, wait at least an hour after the last round of heaving before offering anything by mouth. 

3. How Do I Know if My Dog is Dehydrated? 

Common signs of dehydration in dogs are: lethargy, increased panting, decreased appetite, skin "tenting,"sunken or dry-looking eyes, "tacky" or sticky gums, and in severe cases, collapse. To check your dog for dehydration, gently pull a section of loose skin up from the back of their neck. In a well hydrated dog, the skin should spring back to a flat-laying position. In dehydrated dogs, the skin will "tent," or stay in a peaked position for an extended period of time. Another test is to touch your dog's gums. If they are "tacky," meaning feeling sticky, your dog is most likely dehydrated. 


4. When to Seek Medical Care

Anytime you are worried that your dog may be dehydrated, it is best to involve your veterinarian. Dehydration is extremely common in the hot summertime months, and is associated with multiple illnesses. If not treated properly, dehydration can quickly lead to several serious medical issues or emergencies including: organ failure, shock, collapse, and even death. So, play it safe and call your dog's doctor if you suspect dehydration! 

5. What Can I Do to Prevent Dehydration? 

The summer heat takes a toll on dogs and humans alike! Make sure that your dog stays hydrated by offering an endless supply of water, plenty of shade when they are outside, and bringing them into the AC when the temperatures soar. Frozen treats are another great way to ensure that your dog is getting plently of fluids. See a list of recipes here: https://www.rover.com/blog/homemade-dog-treats-freezer-summer/, https://bakingmischief.com/2017/07/11/frozen-dog-treats/

If your dog has vomited more than once in 24 hours, or had 2 or more loose stools in 24 hours, contact your veterinarian. By giving fluids through an IV or under the skin, your dog will stay hydrated without risking further stomach upset. 


Give us a call if you have questions about your dog's hydration status! We're here to help. 


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