We all know dogs need water, but the amount necessary for a dog to stay hydrated might surprise you. When we think about our dog’s nutrition, protein, carbs, and calories come to mind first, not hydration. But, daily water consumption is more vital than a balanced diet.
Should I leave water out for my dog all day? Yes, dogs should always have access to fresh, clean water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
The average dog sleeps 12 to 14 hours a day, leaving a small window to fill their need for exercise, water, and food. To stay hydrated, a thirty-pound dog must consume an average of 2.6 oz of fluids an hour — roughly 1/3 cup — during the twelve hours it’s awake.
When a fresh bowl of water isn’t always available, a dog has to play catch up by drinking water excessively or end the day without proper hydration.
How important is hydration in dogs
Like people, water makes up sixty to seventy percent of a dog’s body. 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 eventually death.
Dogs need 1 ounce of fluids per pound of body weight to stay hydrated, as a general rule, equalling approximately 4 cups for a 32-pound dog. If four cups sound like a lot of water, it is. The average person should drink 8 cups of water per day.
If your dog eats wet food, they receive a substantial amount of water in their regular diet — wet food is 75% to 80% water — but dry food diets are much lower with only 10% to 20% moisture.
One of the best ways to help your dog stay hydrated, especially if an active dog breed, is snacks with high water content.
Should you leave water out for your dog all day?
By choosing to become dog owners, we agreed to the responsibility of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our pups. A healthy dog requires a balanced diet, exercise, and water.
Dogs have a high demand for hydration, with the average dog requiring an amount of two 16 oz water bottles daily. When dogs have bowls of water in convenient places around the house, they can continue to keep themselves hydrated throughout the day.
Most dogs are responsible drinkers and can regulate their hydration needs independently, leaving our responsibility to check and refill the water bowl.
When should I limit my dog’s water?
Sometimes limiting water will be necessary. The most common needs to restrict your dog’s access to water are before a medical procedure and when house training.
Restricting water before a medical procedure
When facing a medical procedure, especially those that require anesthesia, your veterinarian will advise you to restrict your dog’s water intake.
Typically, a dog should have access to food and water until 11:30 pm the night before the procedure. Drinking water before anesthesia can cause your dog to aspirate, breathing fluid into the lungs.
Always follow your veterinarian’s guidelines before medical procedures.
Limiting water for dogs being house training
Potty training a puppy becomes more challenging overnight when the highest probability of accidents happens. This is especially true for crate training when your puppy can’t wake you for a trip outside.
When house training, you can limit a puppy’s water intake by removing the bowl two to three hours before bedtime. This allows enough time for one last bathroom break before bed.
To prevent a puppy from creating obsessive behaviors toward water, maintain a regular schedule and provide clean filtered water every morning.
Once a dog is fully trained, you can keep the water bowl out. Consider keeping only a small amount of water out if your dog has no yard access.
Can dogs drink too much water?
Dogs can drink too much water, which can be dangerous or even deadly. Excessive water drinking is rare, but the causes can be a symptom of a more significant health issue or after intense activity and during swimming.
Water intoxication from swimming is rare and not often discussed, primarily because it’s seen in dogs swimming to train for agility competitions. Consuming too much water depletes sodium levels, causing dangerous swelling in cells of the brain and bone.
A dog showing signs of excessive water consumption from their bowl may be a symptom of Cushing’s disease. Common in older dogs, Cushing’s disease is an overproduction of cortisol — a steroid hormone responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress.
If you notice any of the following symptoms along with excessive water drinking, consult your veterinarian immediately:
- Hair loss
- Excessive panting
- Thinning of the skin
- Increase in appetite
- Abdominal enlargement
- Weakening of the heart and muscles
- Calcified skin lumps (Calcinosis cutis)
A dog drinking excessively after physical activity may suffer heat stroke and exhaustion. Look for signs of excessive panting, lethargy, or falling over. You must treat heat exhaustion quickly.
How can I measure my dog’s water intake?
Monitoring a dog’s water intake doesn’t need to be an exact science. And calculating fluid intake is complex since dogs receive fluids from food and snacks.
Dry dog food is typically 10% to 20% moisture, while wet foods are as much as 80%. To further complicate, natural hydrating dog treats, like watermelon and cucumber, are over 90% water.
But, Knowing your dog’s water needs — 1 oz of fluids per body pound of body weight — helps to monitor their drinking levels.
Use an empty water bottle or a measuring cup to track the amount and frequency you fill the water bowl. Dogs should have multiple water bowls to have easy accessibility to water.
Without proper hydration, dogs are at risk of dehydration. Overweight and obese dogs, 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
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your dog not drinking or eating.
You can better identify changes in your dog’s habits by proactively maintaining a full bowl of fresh, clean water.
Has your dog faced dehydration? Share your story along with this article to help others.