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Can Dogs Drink Powerade? Is Powerade Safe for Dogs?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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It’s common for us humans to reach for a sports drink after almost any vigorous activity. We know that hard work depletes our systems of vital electrolytes that these sports drinks can replenish. But our dogs are just as active as we are, sometimes even more so. It makes sense to replenish their lost electrolytes as well, but is Powerade the right choice?

In truth, a small sip of Powerade isn’t going to hurt your dog and it might even help to hydrate them some. But it’s not the best choice when you need to provide your dog with some additional hydration and it contains some additives that might be harmful to your dog. Let’s take a closer look at this sports drink and how it affects your pooch.

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Does Powerade Hydrate Your Dog?

Dogs don’t sweat the way humans do, but their bodies are still made up of about 60% water. This means that fluids are just as important for your dog as they are for you. The question is whether or not Powerade is a good source of hydration.

If your dog is dehydrated, giving them Powerade is certainly better than leaving them dehydrated and it’s an acceptable solution if there’s nothing else available. Powerade will hydrate your dog to some degree. However, some things in Powerade prevent it from being the best source of hydration for any canine.

Two Powerade bottles lie down on the table
Image Credit: kropekk_pl, Pixabay

Is There Anything in Powerade That’s Bad for Dogs?

If Powerade is so hydrating for humans, why isn’t it such a great choice for dogs? In reality, it comes down to two main substances that you’ll find in Powerade: sodium and sugar.

Sodium, more commonly known as salt, is both good and bad for dogs. On one hand, it’s a mineral that’s essential for their survival. They must intake sodium to remain healthy. But dogs need far less of this mineral than we do.

Humans can eat thousands of milligrams of sodium each day with minimal repercussive effects. Dogs’ tolerance to sodium is much lower though. A 33-pound dog should only consume about 100 milligrams of sodium in a day. That means that even big dogs who weigh 100 pounds should only consume 300 milligrams of sodium per day.

The real question is; how much sodium is in Powerade?

A serving of Powerade is 12 fluid ounces and contains approximately 150 milligrams of sodium. That’s 50% more than a 33-pound dog’s total recommended daily intake. If you routinely feed your dog more sodium than they should have, they can develop salt poisoning, also known as hypernatremia. This condition can become fatal, and symptoms can start with a relatively small amount of sodium.

Of course, there’s another substance in Powerade that we need to give to our dogs sparingly; sugar. A single 12-ounce serving of Powerade contains a whopping 21 grams of sugar.

Sugar has some of the same detrimental effects in your dog’s body as it does in ours. First, it can cause tooth damage and decay. Excessive amounts of sugar intake can also cause inflammation throughout the body. And as we all know, eating too much sugar can easily lead to weight gain.

Better Alternatives to Powerade

Powerade is better than nothing when your dog is in desperate need of hydration and there’s no water source nearby. But when it comes to hydrating our canine compadres, it’s just not the best choice. Despite this, it’s often recommended that you give Powerade to dogs with an upset stomach or diarrhea. Ironically, the sugar and sodium in Powerade can actually cause an upset stomach or diarrhea in a dog that’s not used to the extra additives.

But if you have options and you just want to hydrate your dog in the best manner possible, what’s your best bet?

Well, it’s hard to go wrong with water. It might seem overly simple, but your dog’s body is made up of 60% water, so pure water is going to be one of the best fluids to hydrate your dog.

Still, there is another option when your dog has been dehydrated for too long and you’re starting to get worried. In this case, you’re going to want to head to the baby aisle of your local grocery store and pick up a bottle of Pedialyte.

Pedialyte is full of the essential minerals and electrolytes that your dog needs to get hydrated and healthy again. But it’s missing the harmful additives that you’ll find in Powerade, such as the sodium and the excessive amounts of sugar. We’d recommend opting for the unflavored Pedialyte since this one has no extra colorings or flavors.

puppy drinking water
Image credit: Pixabay

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Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

How do you know when your dog is dehydrated enough to need the additional help of a product like Pedialyte?

You’ll likely notice the following signs first:
  • Their eyes become sunken in
  • Nose, mouth, and eyes are all dry
  • Excessive panting
  • Decreased elasticity to their skin
  • Lethargy and decreased energy levels
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Thick, sticky saliva

What to do When Your Dog is Severely Dehydrated

Sometimes, dogs do get extremely dehydrated to the point where drinking water isn’t going to help them. Once they reach a certain level of dehydration, the mineral content of their bodies is diminished, which can cause fluid imbalances inside the body. While Pedialyte is a great way to replenish some of these lost electrolytes, there are times when it’s just not enough.

If you’ve already tried giving your dog water and Pedialyte and you’re still seeing the symptoms of dehydration, it’s time to call in some professional help.

You can only do so much to help your dog. But your vet can give them intravenous fluids to properly rehydrate them, ensuring that they get the necessary blend of electrolytes and minerals that will restore fluid balance and return your dog to full health.

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So, Can Dogs Have Powerade?

If there’s no water available, a few sips of Powerade aren’t going to hurt your dog and it might help to provide a little hydration. But water can hydrate your dog just as well as Powerade, and it doesn’t contain the excessive amounts of sugar and sodium that are harmful to your dog.

When your dog is excessively thirsty and exhibiting the signs of dehydration, try giving them Pedialyte as a healthier alternative to Powerade. And if things continue to get worse, your vet can offer solutions that might not be available to you at home.

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Featured Image Credit: Mike Mozart, Flickr

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