When pet owners see that their furbaby has an upset stomach, it’s easy to understand why they become distressed. Apart from discomfort, a dehydrated dog may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset, which can then trigger electrolyte imbalances. When this happens to us, we can quickly reach out to different types of Pedialyte for a cure, but can we give the same solution to our dogs?
In this quick guide, we answer various questions you might have about a sick dog while sharing how to create homemade Pedialyte for dogs.
What Is Pedialyte?
Pedialyte is an oral electrolyte solution that’s commercially available and can be bought over the counter. It is formulated specifically to prevent mild dehydration while maintaining electrolyte balance for the body. Once this rehydration drink is absorbed by the bloodstream, it can help maintain the right water and electrolyte levels in the blood.
It was developed in the 1960s by a physician and was then sold by Abbott Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio until it became widespread in the country. The formula was based on oral rehydration solutions already made available by the World Health Organization (WHO) during the 1940s as part of therapy for kids affected by vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation of the GI tract, and acute gastroenteritis. Pedialytes can provide the body with important electrolytes such as potassium and sodium chloride which can be lost through poor appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Because it contains higher levels of electrolytes compared to plain water, it can help to improve pediatric hydration as a result of stomach flu, sweating as a result of travel, heat, or exercise, as well as food poisoning. This electrolyte drink also contains dextrose to provide extra sugar that can be turned into glucose, a fundamental energy source. While this may all sound great, the question remains, “Is it safe to give to our dogs?”
The Benefits of Using Electrolytes for Dogs
Giving your dog proper hydration and a balance in electrolytes is an essential part of your dog’s health, just like children. Water is the main component of both humans and dogs, so water is extremely important in dog dehydration and is vital for normal organ and cellular function. It also serves to flush away toxins from the body while the kidney filters the bloodstream and maintains blood pressure.
Finally, electrolytes are vital to preserving the water balance in their bodies while aiding in delivering electrical impulses inside a dog’s nervous system and muscles.
Is it Safe to Give My Dog Pedialyte?
Now that you know the role that electrolytes can play in the body, you’re probably wondering if your dog will be able to safely drink Pedialyte. In general, it’s safe to give your pup small quantities of unflavored Pedialyte orally on a short-term basis. This should help to replenish lost electrolytes in your sick puppy.
But you need to remember that this should only be used to help manage the symptoms of dehydration and depletion of electrolytes. It won’t help control the loss of body fluids and doesn’t provide a cure for underlying diseases. Furthermore, it won’t help much with severe cases of dehydration or significant imbalance in electrolytes.
If your pet is dehydrated and sick enough that it needs Pedialyte, it should really be taken to your veterinarian to receive proper treatment. This includes getting hydration therapy through intravenous fluids which can be administered safely. As such, you should only provide your dog Pedialyte as instructed by your dog’s vet.
Signs of Dehydration in a Dog
If your dog has lost plenty of fluids or electrolytes as a result of diarrhea or vomiting, it may show signs of dehydration. Dehydration in dogs can range from mild cases to ones that are more severe. No matter what the case, it’s best to get your vet’s advice on how you should handle the symptoms of dehydration in your pooch, which includes the following:
- Signs of lethargy
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth, gums, and nose
- Constant panting
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or vomiting
Dehydration should always be considered a medical emergency in dogs, so when you see a vomiting dog along with diarrhea and heat stroke, be sure to give your dog veterinary care. Don’t wait for a scheduled vet visit before getting your dog checked out — resolving dehydration for dogs can be as easy as giving your dog enough water. However, it can also point toward other serious health problems that your vet may be able to detect.
When Would Your Vet Recommend Pedialyte?
When it comes to mild episodes of diarrhea or vomiting, your vet may suggest at-home Pedialyte. However, your veterinarian may also recommend a veterinary-approved Pedialyte alternative, such as coconut water, maple syrup, and sugar water in small amounts. In other cases, your vet may have you avoid Pedialyte since it can delay treatments or worsen gastrointestinal illness.
Moreover, your vet may ask you to stop feeding your dog liquids and food for a few hours to help ease your dog’s stomach if it’s suffering from loose stools. In this case, Pedialyte might just encourage more vomiting by adding more irritants to the stomach lining that’s already inflamed. Unfortunately, Pedialyte isn’t a cure for small animals that have severe conditions such as parvovirus, which causes the destruction of red and white blood cells and may lead to death.
How to Make Homemade Pedialyte for Dogs
When you give Pedialyte to your pooch, do so in small amounts; too much Pedialyte can result in vomiting. You can make homemade Pedialyte by combining one part of Pedialyte with one part of water to dilute it. Otherwise, you can offer it as it is; some dogs will be happy to drink it without the added water while others prefer it diluted.
Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to offer your pup a few sips of homemade electrolytes to drink once every one to two hours. According to experts, the recommended dose to give dogs is around 2 to 4 mL of Pedialyte for every pound of your dog’s body weight. You may also freeze some of the solution and turn them into ice cubes to keep them cool during hot days.
If you’re feeding your dog bland food to help it recover from gastrointestinal disease, you may also pour some Pedialyte to create wet food. Dogs that are picky eaters can be enticed to drink their Pedialyte using a bouillon cube with low sodium levels. It’s not ideal to feed your dog Pedialyte forcefully and should be a free choice; if your pup is sick enough that it needs to be fed using a syringe, it’s a good idea to head to your vet.
Side Effects of Pedialyte for Dogs
Unflavored Pedialyte is safe to give dogs in small doses, but it could worsen vomiting as well, depending on the dog. This is why it’s better to use fresh water in some cases, and it’s vital that you don’t give your dog more Pedialyte than what your veterinarian recommends. You don’t want to give your furry friend too many electrolytes, which will cause an overdose; high levels of sodium can result in a wide range of complications, such as:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Fluid loss from the brain
- Hyperkalemia or elevated potassium levels
- Heart disease
Because Pedialyte will have high levels of sodium, dogs with congestive heart failure should stay away from Pedialyte. Moreover, dogs that have been diagnosed with diabetes shouldn’t drink Pedialyte to avoid getting too much sugar in their systems. Flavored Pedialyte will also have artificial sweeteners that can irritate the GI tract even more, and won’t be suitable for pups that have food allergies.
The biggest problem with using homemade Pedialyte recipes is that they can give pet parents the sense that their pets are fine when in fact, they’re in need of a trip to the vet. This is why it’s important to discuss your dog’s health with your vet first.
Below are some of the most asked questions that many dog owners will have when feeding Pedialyte to their dogs for the first time.
Is there Research on Giving Pedialyte to Dogs?
There are scientific studies that prove the benefits of giving dogs electrolytes to keep them hydrated but there have been no published research to validate their efficacy and safety in dogs. This is because Pedialyte has been formulated to meet the needs of kids, not dogs, which are slightly different. For example, Pedialyte has a higher sodium content compared to the needs of canines.
What are Other Ways to Rehydrate Dogs?
The best way to hydrate dogs is to provide them with clean water all the time. When they become dehydrated, dogs will lose the vital minerals that a sip from a water fountain can’t replace. This condition also comes with a loss of activity, which means they’ll drink even less; this is the right time to give them electrolyte drinks in small amounts.
While your furbaby can drink some juice or milk, these won’t provide them with the correct formulation to give them the hydration they need. If you don’t have access to Pedialyte, a great alternative is Gatorade, a sports drink that you can also give to your dog in small amounts. But before you give this to your pooch, be sure to consult your veterinarian on the right dosage to give.
Is Gatorade Safe for Dogs?
Gatorade comes with food dyes and high levels of sugar, which are ingredients that can contribute to diabetes and weight gain for dogs. Just as you would with all kinds of sports drinks, you will need to dilute Gatorade and introduce it to your pup slowly. This will help to reduce the sugar concentration in the drink; to get started, combine equal amounts of water with Gatorade.
Just like Pedialyte, you can administer this mixture once every hour or two until you’re able to take your pooch to the vet.
Pedialyte is the best solution to bring quick rehydration to your dog’s body, but shouldn’t replace a trip to the vet no matter how small you think the problem may be. If you have no choice but to use Pedialyte, be sure to look for an option with less sugar, and avoid flavors that can hurt your dogs more, such as citric acid. It’s also best to remember that you should only use Pedialyte when approved by your veterinarian.