A dog’s electrolyte losses from playing hard on a hot day are minimal, and the best thing to give that dog for dehydration is plain water. But many pet owners reach for products like Pedialyte, hoping to do “better.” Dogs can have Pedialyte, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for them.
Pedialyte is an over-the-counter supplement formulated for infants, children, and adult humans who suffer from vomiting or diarrhea. It is designed to hydrate and “provide essential nutrients” to humans. Ingredients include water, sugar (dextrose), and electrolytes in the form of salts (sodium, chloride, potassium, citrate).
Dogs prevent overheating and maintain normal body temperature primarily through panting.
This process does cause water loss, and if the water is not replaced, dehydration can result. Unlike humans, however, who can sweat anywhere there is skin, dogs only have sweat glands on their paw pads, and they’re largely inefficient. Thus, in dogs, the loss of body heat and water and electrolytes through sweating is minimal.
So, yes, you can give Pedialyte (or dilute Pedialyte) to a healthy dog on a warm day to prevent dehydration. But, since the dog doesn’t need the electrolytes in Pedialyte, they are filtered out by the kidneys and end up in the dog’s urine. Note: Because of Pedialyte’s high salt content, you should use caution giving Pedialyte to dogs with heart or kidney diseases, as sodium restriction is often part of managing these conditions. In addition, the level of sugar in Pedialyte is not appropriate for dogs.
True electrolyte losses can occur in a dog when he suffers from vomiting or diarrhea.
If your dog cannot keep food or fluids down, or if symptoms are severe or persist beyond a single bout, have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian rather than administering Pedialyte. If your veterinarian does recommend an electrolyte replacement, chances are good he or she will suggest a formula for dogs.