© squirrelrehabilitation.com, 2011 The Basics Dehydration/Hydration  Before any attempt to feed the baby is made, it is imperative to make  certain it is properly hydrated.  They cannot properly digest food if they  are not hydrated.  Many, if not most, found babies are dehydrated to  some degree.  A quick, albeit unscientific, method to determine whether  or not a baby is dehydrated is the “pinch test.”  Gently pinch some skin  on the baby’s back and pull it up into a “tent.”  The skin should almost  immediately return to normal.  If it does not return to normal in a second  or two, the baby is dehydrated.  Note the fold of skin on this baby’s lower  left back.  It took almost five seconds for the tent of skin to return to its  normal position.  The baby was dehydrated.  Another visual clue that a baby is dehydrated is the condition of the  skin itself.  While more difficult to tell on babies who have developed  fur, on younger babies, such as the one pictured at right, the skin will  appear loose and wrinkled.  This baby was dehydrated, as well as a bit  emaciated.  The baby pictured below was injured but well hydrated.  In addition to the condition of the skin and the return time (turgor)  of skin during the pinch test, further indicators are sticky or dry gums/  mouth, little or no urine when stimulated, dark yellow urine, spots of  blood in the urine (due to irritation caused by the level of uric acid in concentrated urine), lethargy, sunken eyes, and a weak  pulse.  If the dehydration is severe enough, the baby will show signs of shock.  The two babies pictured upper right were  between 5-7% dehydrated.  They were able to recover with oral administration of rehydrating fluids (see below).   IF YOUR BABY APPEARS IN WORSE CONDITION THAN THOSE PICTURED ABOVE RIGHT AND/OR IT WILL NOT OR CANNOT TAKE REHYDRATION FLUIDS ORALLY, YOU MUST GET IT TO A WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR OR VETERINARIAN FOR SUBCUTANEOUS (SQ) OR INTRAVENOUS (IV) FLUID THERAPY! Oral Rehydration BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO REHYDRATE THE BABY ORALLY, YOU SHOULD REVIEW THE SECTION “FEEDING BABIES” UNDER “INFANTS/FOUND BABIES” OR CLICK THIS LINK! What to Give It The easiest rehydration fluid to come by is unflavored Pedialyte. It’s available in all grocery and drug stores in the “Baby” section. Lactated Ringers Solution (LRS) can be purchased from a veterinarian and is used by many rehabilitators.  The advantage of LRS is that it can also be injected subcutaneously (SQ).  A temporary emergency solution can be made by dissolving one teaspoon of salt and three teaspoons of sugar in one quart of water that has been boiled for five minutes (NWRA Principles).  BE SURE TO WARM THE FLUID BEFORE FEEDING!   How Much to Give It For oral rehydration only, give up to seven percent (maximum stomach capacity) of the baby’s body weight per feeding.  Depending on the age of the baby, once it is hydrated and on formula, it will need to be fed anywhere from every two and a half to six hours (see feeding schedule in “Feeding Babies”).  However, with a dehydrated baby receiving only rehydration fluids, feedings need to be increased in number and frequency.  Basically, while there is such a thing as “over-hydration” (which can also be a serious condition), you can’t over-hydrate a dehydrated baby.  Give it as much as it will readily drink (but don’t force feed). YOU SHOULD NOT ADMINISTER REHYDRATION FLUIDS FOR MORE THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS! Rehydration fluids contain salts such as potassium and sodium.  These salts contain the electrolytes the baby needs to replace those lost through dehydration.  However, once those electrolytes are balanced in its system, the addition of more of these salts will, ironically, cause dehydration.     How To Tell When the Baby Is Hydrated and Ready to Be Introduced to Formula The baby’s skin should quickly return back to normal when given the “pinch test,” the mucous membranes in the mouth should be moist, the baby should urinate readily upon stimulation, and its urine should be clear to a very pale yellow.