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NancyH
NancyH, Cat Health, Behavior, Care Expert
Category: Cat
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Experience:  30+ years cat owner, rescue, breeding, study of behavior & health care
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cat: dehydrated..signs and what can I do to help him?

Customer Question

how can I tell if my cat is dehydrated? What are the signs and what can I do to help him?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
One sign of dehydration is loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the back is picked up into a fold, it should spring back into place. In dehydration, the skin stays up in a ridge. Another sign is dryness of the mouth. The gums, which should be wet and glistening, are dry and tacky to the touch. The saliva is thick and tenacious. Late signs are sunken eyeballs and circulatory collapse (shock).
A cat that is seriously dehydrated should receive prompt veterinary attention. Treatment would include replacing fluids and working to prevent further losses.
In less severe cases fluids can be given by mouth. If the cat won't drink, you can give an electrolyte solution (plain pedialyte for example) by bottle or syringe into a cheek pouch made by tilting the cat's head up and putting the fluids in between the closed teeth and the cheek.
Hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: I guess I'm concerned because of the weather lately here in Michigan. He seems to be shedding more than normal and it looks like there is a little bit of dark snot coming from his nostrils. Also I thought darkening of the skin on the paws was a sign of dehydration.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Darkening of the skin may be due to 'tanning' as the cat has more sun exposure.
The nasal discharge and shedding may indicate some other problem entirely - from a virus to a thyroid issue to intestinal parasites impacting his nutrition.
If you are unhappy with his condition I'd suggest an in person thorough vet exam to see what may be wrong.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: I have 2 cats and they have both been outside more lately. It is hard to tell if there is anything 'oozing' from my black cat's nose. But he appears to be Ok. The other one (brown tabby) is the one I'm referring to. He isn't lethargic either which I would assume could be associated with dehydration. Is shedding more common in the summer months that other seasons since both are doing it?
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Normally animals shed their coats spring and fall as the seasons change and the light they get per day changes.
If the cats are shedding more than normal I'd suspsect they picked up a parasite while outdoors that is either effecting the skin or their nutrition. So could be worms, fleas, mites, the fungal infection ringworm etc that might be impacting their coats and shedding.
Cats with light colored noses can be burned by the sun and develop nasal cancers.
Outdoor cats are exposed to virues and other illnesses from the other cats and the wildlife they encounter. If they are not vaccinated diseases such as upper respiratory infections commonly pass to all the cats in the area.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: Since I've just switched jobs my cash flow is limited, is there something I can do to help my animals without making a trip to the vet? I know to have both cats tested could be quite expensive and I'm looking for an alternative solution...maybe something homeopathic?
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Easiest test to do is to bring a stool sample from each cat to the vet and have them test the sample for parasites. Its usually not expensive (you can call and ask how much and decide if you want to check one or both of them) usually parasite treatment isn't very expensive. That is the most likely cause of what you are seeing and the easiest to find out about and treat.
I know of no safe alternative medicines for cats - cats are very sensitive to toxins and I would not try anything on them without veterinary advice. Homeopathic medications are often totally ineffective and quite expensive too. Never presume homeopathic or natural means 'safe' for you or your animals. If you want to use homeopathic remedies I suggest you go with a homeopathic veterinarian who can get good quality medications (over the counter you might get anything as there are no controls on those substances and no one checks them to see if they even contain what they say they do) and a vet exam gives you a far better chance of choosing the right treatment.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: what about hot spots? how are those treated? also, my brown tabby seems to scratch alot. More than normal and I'm not sure if he's a sensitive cat or not. I have looked for ear mites, fleas and ticks, but I haven't noticed anything. I did touch up his ears with a mild solution that helps to aid with itch relief. Any suggestions?
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
I have answered several questions now with no accept from you.
If your pets are having all kinds of health problems such as you describe then you should, as a responsible owner, bring them to a veterinarian and get them the treatment they need.

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