Pedialyte (Electrolytes) for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects, and Alternatives (2024)

Like humans, dogs lose water and electrolytes through sweat, urination, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dogs can become dehydrated if they lose vital fluids faster than they can be replaced. Dehydration can affect various bodily functions from digestion to muscle movement. In serious cases, dogs can lose consciousness or experience kidney failure and even death.

If your dog is low on fluids, your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog Pedialyte to help replenish their electrolytes. When used appropriately, Pedialyte is a safe and effective way to help your dog rehydrate. However, Pedialyte doesn’t treat the underlying cause of vomiting or diarrhea, so your dog will need veterinary attention. Learn more about the proper uses of Pedialyte for dogs.

What Is Pedialyte, and When Is It Given to Dogs?

Pedialyte is an oral electrolyte solution available over the counter to prevent or reduce dehydration. For example, a person might drink Pedialyte after a strenuous workout to “help replace the electrolytes that they lose when they perspire heavily,” says Dr. Amy Attas, VMD of New York-based practice City Pets. “Pedialyte can be used in dogs as part of the therapy to either prevent dehydration or to rehydrate after a few episodes of vomiting or diarrhea.”

There are flavored and unflavored kinds of Pedialyte. Flavored Pedialyte contains electrolytes, natural sugar, flavoring, and artificial sugar. One such artificial sweetener is sucralose, which isn’t safe for dogs to consume. “We want to make sure that people don’t purchase Pedialyte with artificial sugar because dogs don’t process these sugars in the same way that people do and can get really sick from them,” she says.

Instead, she recommends giving your dog unflavored Pedialyte, which contains sugar and electrolytes. Compared to flavored solutions, unflavored products rarely contain sugars that are harmful to dogs, such as xylitol, which is found in some human products like toothpaste and chewing gum.

How to Rehydrate Your Dog Safely

When you’re giving your dog Pedialyte, make sure to dilute the product with water. Dr. Attas recommends using 50 percent water and 50 percent Pedialyte. “Undiluted Pedialyte, ironically, can cause diarrhea due to over-supplementation with electrolytes,” she says. “We don’t want to give a treatment for diarrhea only to have it cause diarrhea, so diluting it will help with that.”

It’s best to avoid giving your dog a full bowl of Pedialyte even when it’s diluted. A dehydrated dog might be tempted to drink too much of the solution at once, which can lead to further vomiting and stomach cramps. If you’re adding Pedialyte to your dog’s water bowl, give them small amounts at a time to encourage them to drink more slowly.

Or, better yet, freeze the solution using an ice tray. You can then store the ice cubes in a freezer bag and give them to your dogs as needed. “They’re a nice thing for a dog to have after an episode of vomiting because you can give them some hydration as they chew or lick the ice cube, but they’re not taking in so much at one time to make them vomit again,” she says.

Pedialyte (Electrolytes) for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects, and Alternatives (2)


Side Effects of Pedialyte

If your dog is clinically dehydrated, it’s best to treat them with intravenous fluids as opposed to Pedialyte. Likewise, your dog would need to see the vet if they’re having excessive vomiting or diarrhea, refusing food, or seem lethargic. “I wouldn’t give Pedialyte to a patient with severe vomiting or a patient that is vomiting up fluids because this can be an indication that they have an intestinal blockage and require veterinary care,” Dr. Attas says.

Other situations where Pedialyte would be an inappropriate treatment are in dogs with allergies or heart problems. Avoid Pedialyte if your dog is allergic to any of the ingredients. “Dogs with heart failure may have a hard time balancing fluids,” she says. “Adding electrolytes can interfere with high blood pressure.” In addition, the natural sugar in Pedialyte can increase the blood glucose level of dogs with diabetes, putting them at risk for eye, nerve, and heart problems.

Pedialyte doesn’t usually interfere with medications. However, the high levels of sodium and potassium in Pedialyte can be a problem for dogs who are on medication for high blood pressure. Pedialyte is safe for dogs so long as you choose an unflavored product and dilute it with water. “But I want to stress to people that this is not the ultimate treatment for a problem,” she says. “Pedialyte doesn’t replace veterinary care.”

When Should Your Dog See the Vet?

“I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this question,” Dr. Attas says. Instead, you need to consider the full picture, including the dog’s size and how many times they’ve vomited in a certain timeframe, like a 12-hour period. Three vomiting episodes in a Mastiff wouldn’t be as concerning as if it were a five-pound Papillon. “Little dogs dehydrate much faster than big dogs,” she adds.

Pedialyte (Electrolytes) for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects, and Alternatives (3)

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Regardless of a dog’s size, it would be advisable to bring your dog in for a checkup if they’re throwing up food each time they eat or drink. If your dog is vomiting and having diarrhea, that means they’re losing fluids twice as fast and would benefit from veterinary care. Older dogs with comorbidities or dogs who appear sick while vomiting also require veterinary attention.

On the other hand, if your dog is vomiting a little bit of yellow fluid (i.e., bilious vomiting) every other morning, this probably isn’t an emergency. Still, it’s best to “err on the side of at least calling and explaining what’s going on to determine if the pet needs to be seen,” she says. “I’d rather have them go in than wish we had gone, and then the problem is worse.”

The Takeaway

Pedialyte is a readily available, affordable, and effective solution to help your dog rehydrate at home. It needs to be unflavored and diluted with water to be safe for dogs. Pedialyte doesn’t stop your dog from vomiting or having diarrhea. Oftentimes, these symptoms will stop on their own or with intervention by a veterinarian. “Some of the dogs who can benefit from Pedialyte will need to have veterinary care as well to find out the cause of vomiting or diarrhea, so it can be corrected,” Dr. Attas says.

There are also electrolyte solutions for dogs that can be used instead of Pedialyte. If you think your dog may be dehydrated, contact your vet about best-practice next steps.

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Pedialyte (Electrolytes) for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects, and Alternatives (2024)
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