By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s extremely important to keep your companion animals hydrated throughout the summer months. Dehydration is a lack of water and an imbalance of electrolytes (minerals) in the body and, just as in people, it can cause very serious complications in our pets quickly. And although they may not always show it, cats are just as susceptible as dogs.

Dehydration occurs when fluid levels in the body are decreased to less than normal. This can be due to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss by overheating especially in hot weather, or by vomiting or diarrhea. This is most often seen in puppies.

Symptoms of dehydration may include dry mouth, lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, sunken eyes and depression.

If you suspect your dog or cat is suffering from dehydration, call your vet immediately.

To check for dehydration, the ASPCA advises gently lifting the skin on the back of your dog or cat’s neck or between the shoulder blades. Unless your companion animal is seriously overweight or very thin, the skin should immediately return to a normal position. No breed is immune, but pregnant, nursing, elderly, and animals with illnesses are mostly at risk. Keep an eye on your pet and provide plenty of water all day, every day to keep them cool throughout the summer.

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