Put Down That Gatorade! Why Your Dog Doesn’t Need It.


Dog Standing © 2011 Tim Woodbury/MidpackRunner.comThere’s something fantastic about a dog on the run, isn’t there?

As a running partner, Keely’s always been outstanding. Get it? Out. Standing. You know, because in the picture she… Oh, nevermind! (I honestly apologize for that joke. However, I’m not sorry enough to remove it.)

Having Keely goading me on is the largest part of the fun of running for me.

I know most of us would do pretty much anything for our four-legged companions. Therefore, as a responsible running partner, it falls to me to make sure that she’s well taken care of so she’s always in good shape to run. So, when I started hearing about electrolyte supplementation for active dogs, I figured it was worth investigating.

After all, humans are at risk for Hyponatremia during extended periods of high activity. What kind of owner would I be if I let Keely suffer the same fate?

Salty dog?

There are several products on the market that act as electrolyte supplements for dogs.

Maybe you’ve always envisioned Fido with a big bottle of Gatorade. If that’s the case, you can let him rehydrate with Dogdration. On the other hand, if Rex always seemed like a Nuun dog to you, just imagine him popping a Rehydrate tablet into his bowl post-run.

So, when it comes to electrolyte replenishment, you’ve certainly got some options.

There’s only one problem. Unless your dog is malnourished or sick – sick here meaning vomiting, or experiencing diarrhea – they don’t really need electrolyte supplements.

She thinks she’s people

There’s a major difference in the way that humans and dogs deal with temperature regulation. Aside from very slightly on the pads of their paws, dogs don’t sweat to regulate body temperature. They pant.

I’ve discussed before the differences between sweating and panting, but there’s one advantage that I didn’t mention in that discussion. Unlike sweating, panting doesn’t cause salt loss. So, since only primates and a few hoofed animals sweat, there’s no scientific basis for trying to replenish your dog’s electrolyte levels. It’s just not necessary.

In fact, since dogs don’t eliminate sodium except through elimination, consuming extra salt can pose a real risk of over-salinization.

Just like with some humans, having too much salt can cause a whole whole host of health problems from high blood-pressure, to kidney and liver problems. Just ask this adorable slideshow (slide 15/25 is the relevant one, but they’re all adorable).

So, save yourself some cash on that electrolyte supplement, and invest it in a nice treat your dog can actually enjoy.

While we’re on the subject of things dogs shouldn’t eat, Keely once ate an entire bag of hot dog buns. Not the buns, mind you – all of those were still intact. She just the entire plastic bag they came in.

Am I alone in this one? What non-food items have your dogs eaten? Leave me some love in the comments.

  2 Responses to Put Down That Gatorade! Why Your Dog Doesn’t Need It.
  1. Melina

    Thanks for the electrolyte info. My chi-wow-wah is not feeling well, dad fed him some veggies that did not agree with him. I am trying to nurse him with boiled bland rice and chicken, which he does not want unfortunately. :(
    Well, my dog loves used Kleenex and clothespins. He chews up the pins pretty good and it comes out like ruffage when he poops. This is gross, but he’s eaten used sanitary napkins. I don’t know why he does, we remove the trash now. He loves to chew off the hands and heads off our human daughter’s toys. Pretty funny. sometimes he leaves the hand dismembered for evidence.
    I hope he gets better soon.

  2. I agree that most dogs don’t need traditional electrolyte supplements that basically contain sodium/potassium. What they do need is a trace-mineral electrolyte boost for their diets… plants and animals are trace-mineral deficient today and this is causing a whole host of illnesses and weakness of immunity… just short circuiting their electrical system can create anomalies the vets can’t diagnose properly. People lump electrolyte supplements into one and don’t realize that a TRUE electrolyte supplement does lots more than just rehdyrate. Time for pet owners to get a little more ‘learnin about this subject.

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