Adult dogs can control their bladder for 6 to 8 hours and even up to 12. With that much control in adults, withholding water from an adult dog at night only risks their health.
For puppies, bladder control depends on their age. A puppy can safely control its bladder one hour for each month of age. When crate training, restricting water for puppies at night is common.
Dogs require approximately 1 ounce of fluids per pound of body weight — more than many think. Without a bowl of water available at night, a dog has a shorter window to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
Often, that leads to a lack of proper hydration.
How important is hydration in dogs?
Dogs are sixty to seventy percent water, just like us. Water helps flush waste from the body, transport nutrients, regulate body temperature, and assist digestion.
When dogs don’t receive enough fluids, severe dehydration can cause organ failure and even death.
As a general rule, dogs need 1 ounce of fluids per pound of body weight to stay hydrated — approximately 4 cups for a 32-pound dog. To put into perspective, the average person drinks 8 cups of water daily.
Dog food does provide added fluids in the form of moisture content. Wet food is 75% to 80% water, while dry food typically ranges between 10% to 20% moisture.
Safely restricting water for puppies at night.
While house training, you may consider restricting water from your puppy at night. Since a puppy’s bladder doesn’t have the control of an adult dog, the risk of an accident is heightened.
But, there are safe ways to withhold water from a puppy at night.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule for your puppy
Consistency is critical for all training, including crate training puppies without water. That means putting your pup to bed and waking up at the same time every morning.
Dogs are surprisingly great at judging time. By creating consistency, a puppy will understand morning is near and be motivated to hold its bladder longer.
If your bedtime is 11 pm, remove your puppy’s water between 9:00 to 9:30 pm. With two hours before bed, a puppy will get one last pee break before sleep.
Let your dog out in the middle of the night
Not all sleepers can fall back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. If you’re an easy sleeper, consider waking up to let your puppy out.
Having one potty break in the middle of the night can keep your puppy better hydrated by either maintaining a small amount of water in the crate or restricting water for your puppy later.
This is best when your dog will have free access to a yard as an adult since the routine will likely create a habit.
Avoid creating destructive behaviors toward water
An inconsistent schedule makes a puppy unable to properly judge their next drink of water, leading to water obsession.
Excessive water drinking — also known as water intoxication — overloads the body, forcing a depletion in sodium and dangerous swelling in the cells.
Signs of water intoxication are:
- Hair loss
- Excessive panting
- Thinning of the skin
- Increase in appetite
- Abdominal enlargement
- Weakening of the heart and muscles
- Calcified skin lumps (Calcinosis cutis)
The dangers of withholding water from a dog at night
Without proper hydration, dogs are at risk of dehydration. Senior dogs, miniature and toy breeds, puppies, and nursing moms are at the highest risk of dehydration.
Symptoms of dehydration in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry nose
- Sticky gums
- Thick saliva
- Excessive drooling
- Sunken eyes
Dehydration is a severe condition that can lead to death.
Water, alongside food and exercise, is the key to healthy development in puppies and maintaining a healthy dog through each life stage. When restricting water for puppies at night, it’s crucial to ensure they have fresh, clean water throughout the day.
Water carries essential nutrients to cells and is vital for many essential functions in dogs, including:
- Blood flow
- Nutrient absorption
- Brain activity
- Kidney function
- Liver function
Most dogs are responsible drinkers and can regulate their hydration needs independently, leaving our responsibility to check and refill the water bowl.
Remember, any signs of irregular water drinking or eating require your veterinarian’s attention. It’s likely a sign of a more significant health problem in your dog.
Are you restricting water for your puppy at night? Share your story along with this article to help others.