Water & Your Dog: What You Need To Know
We all know that keeping ourselves hydrated is one of the keys to our health, especially during the hottest seasons of the year. But did you know that proper hydration is just as important for your pup as well? Dogs notoriously slurp and slosh water from their bowls, spilling some in the process, but Fido may not know exactly how much is enough. Watching how much hydration your dog does or does not have is important to insure the health and well-being of your pet.
Why Hydration Matters
A dog’s bodily functions rely on a constant intake of healthy, clean water. Their digestion depends on regular hydration to work properly, which aids your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients and excrete bodily waste. His body temperature is regulated best with appropriate water intake, and we all know that overheating can already be an issue for heavy-coated dogs during the searing summer months. His joints and spine are cushioned by consistent, proper hydration, keeping Fido comfortable as he runs and plays with you day in and day out.
How Much Water Should a Dog Drink Each Day?
Much like we can for our own hydration intake, we can calculate an estimate of how much water is healthy and necessary for our dogs as well. The commonly agreed upon formula is that ½ to 1 ounce of water for every pound of a dog’s weight should be consumed daily. While approximate, this formula is a great starting point for figuring out how much hydration your pup will need on a normal day.
Will Ever Dog Need Less?
If you have a puppy, your dog may actually consume less water than you expect if he is eating wet dog food. Since this provides hydration, your puppy might drink slightly less water. If your dog is eating a homemade diet, you may already be fortifying his diet with enough hydration as well.
When Your Pup May Need More
If your pup is dealing with an ongoing illness or chronic pain, your dog may need more water than normal. Also, if your dog is expending a lot of energy or is exposed to high heat, he may also need extra hydration to cope. You may see him panting to cool down but remember that his tongue will allow moisture to evaporate, allowing the cooling process to take place, but he will need hydration to replace that evaporated water on top of his normal intake volume.
How much water does a dog need to stay happy is hard to say, but we can keep track easily of how much they are actually getting by providing a clean, full bowl of water each day. Tracking the volume is fairly simple when you add fresh water to their bowl daily, so you can see what is spilled, drank, or left undrunk by your dog.
Puppies tend to slop and slosh around the water in the bowls as they learn how to drink efficiently, so you may not even notice if they are drinking a little less or a little bit more just by looking at the water bowl levels. A good rule of thumb for young dogs is to simply keep a full bowl available for them at all times to account for any spillage.
The Danger of Dehydration
As we consider how much water should a dog drink, we know that our dogs can’t always tell us when they are feeling dehydrated or in danger from lack of water intake. But there are some noticeable clues they give us if we know what to watch for in their actions and appearances. If you notice any of the following, your dog may be in danger of dehydration:
Immediate thirst – doesn’t seem satisfied with water volume provided
- Immediate thirst – doesn’t seem satisfied with water volume provided
- Lethargy – unusually tired
- Dry gums and tongue – hydrated dogs will have pink gums that spring back when pressed gently
- Dry nose
- Loose skin – dehydration causes skin that will not quickly fall back into place when pinched or grabbed
Other Causes of Dehydration in Dogs
By knowing to ask how much water should a dog drink a day, you likely are already paying close attention to your dog’s health. It’s very important for every dog owner to be alert to any symptoms of dog health issues. But not drinking enough water is not the only reason your pet might become dehydrated. A very dangerous condition for a dog, dehydration might be a symptom of one of the following conditions:
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal malfunction (Cushing’s disease or Addison’s disease)
- Liver disease
- High doses of some steroids or other prescribed medicines
Overhydration in Dogs
A discussion about how much water should dogs drink also has to consider when dogs drink too much water. Overhydration can be a problem, as well, as too much water can make a dog vomit, appear bloated, or even create lethargy and excessive salivation just like dehydration. Too much water is dangerous, as well, so how much water should a dog drink a day is something all dog owners need to know.
Part of the Family
Dogs are truly a loving companion when we treat them as part of our family. They trust us to care for them and provide what they need, including food and water. In return, we are lucky enough to experience the unconditional love of our pet. With a little knowledge about how much water is perfect for our pup, we can easily make sure our dog is safely hydrated and will live a healthy life as part of our family.