Your four-legged friend is no different than you: water is a necessity each day. However, are you finding an empty water dish every hour or finding a full bowl at the end of each day? You may notice that your dog’s water drinking habits seem a bit off. How can you be sure you are giving your dog too much water or too little?
Dogs should have all-day access to water. Most dogs instinctively know how much water to drink. Limiting their access to water may have more negative effects than positive. Occasionally, though, dogs may need help from owners to ensure they are not drinking too much or too little.
Factors that impact how much water your dog needs include activity level, age, and diet. There are several symptoms and habits to look for from your canine friend to ensure their water consumption is healthy. Read on to learn about how to make sure your dog is getting proper hydration.
How Much Water Does a Dog Need Every Day?
Your dog’s need for water depends on various factors. Dogs that are younger or more active will require more water each day to stay hydrated. Older or less active dogs may require less. Your dog’s water needs also depend on the diet you provide. If your dog is consuming wet food, you may find they have a smaller appetite for water.
In general, though, dogs require about an ounce of water for every pound of body weight daily. Smaller, less active, or older dogs may require less than that: around half an ounce of water for each pound of body weight may suffice.
|Dog’s Weight||Average Water Required Daily|
|Up to 15 lbs.||7.5 to 20 ounces|
|15-30 lbs.||15 to 45 ounces|
|30-60 lbs.||30 to 90 ounces|
|60-90 lbs.||60 to 180 ounces|
For example, a full-size and active golden retriever that weighs 70 pounds may drink around half a gallon of water each day. That is a sharp contrast from an older miniature dachshund who may only require a cup and a half on a warm day.
Don’t Take Away Your Dog’s Water – But Do Monitor It
It is uncommon to need to take away a dog’s water dish. Research does not suggest it is necessarily unhealthy for a dog to have access to water all day. However, monitoring and being aware of your dog’s regular drinking habits is a good idea.
Dehydration and overhydration are both risks you should be aware of. If something seems off, closely monitor your dog’s consumption habits.
If your dog is regularly drinking multiple full bowls of water each day, regardless of activity, you should consult with your vet before taking the bowl away from them. There could be an underlying condition that is causing the dog’s drinking habits to change.
Considering the risks of overhydration and dehydration, though, it may be necessary to more closely control their water consumption habits. Being aware of the symptoms of overhydration and dehydration can make a dog’s behavior make more sense.
Is My Dog Drinking Too Much Water?
Is your dog drinking from every puddle and stagnant body of water they can find when outside, or are they emptying their water dish every hour? While it is unlikely that your dog is drinking too much water, factors like this may mean you should look out for symptoms of overhydration.
Symptoms of Overhydration
- Strange behavior/lack of motor coordination
- Dilated pupils
- Excess salivation
If your dog is showing these symptoms after consuming large amounts of water, it may be time to limit how much they are given.
Keep close track of how much water they are drinking by filling their bowl with the same amount each day at regular intervals.
Regular overconsumption of water may necessitate a trip to the vet. Excess drinking could be a sign of kidney failure, diabetes, and other concerning diseases. Blood and urine tests at the vet can help diagnose potential issues.
We experienced this recently with our aging dog. At 14 1/2 years old, she began to drink a lot more than she ever has. She has never been a big drinker and rarely finished a whole bowl of water in a day. However, we noticed her going through multiple bowls of water each day. We knew something was off so we scheduled an appointment with our vet.
After a vet visit and blood work, we found out that she has early stages of kidney disease along with a small tumor that needed to be surgically removed. We may not have been alerted to these issues if not for her increased water consumption. Luckily we caught these issues early and have been able to manage them better than we would have if we had just ignored them.
Only in more extreme scenarios should water be withheld. Water is key to your dog’s health just as much as it is ours.
Before You Take Away Your Dog’s Water Bowl
If your dog is regularly consuming water to the point of vomiting, regardless of their day-to-day activities, or it seems they are drinking much more than usual, you may think it is necessary to take the bowl away. There are other ways to be sure, though, that your dog isn’t over-hydrating.
- Consider spacing out how much water you provide. After a long walk or game of fetch, your pooch may be eager to lap up as much liquid as possible. Instead of providing a full bowl, space out how much water they are consuming by giving them smaller bowls over a longer period of time.
- Monitor your dog’s water intake. Keep close track of how much water they consume if it concerns you. Keeping in mind how much water you should expect your dog to consume daily, start a written schedule of how much water you are providing. Keep track of how often and with how much you need to fill your dog’s water bowl and compare that with what should be expected from your dog’s age and weight.
- Ask your vet. Before taking the bowl away for long periods of time, be sure to have a conversation with your vet. Urine and blood tests can weed out any underlying health problems that could be only exacerbated by taking your dog’s water away
Dehydration can pose just as big of a risk to your dog’s health as overhydration. Taking the time to monitor your dog’s habits and speak with a trusted vet are important steps before removing your dog’s water source.
Is My Dog Drinking Enough Water?
If your dog is hardly touching his water bowl throughout the day, there are many things to consider.
Diagnosing dehydration in your dog is an easy first step to ensure they are maintaining a healthy water intake.
You should expect your dog to drink more on warm days and after lots of physical activity. If they are avoiding drinking or showing any symptoms of dehydration, you may need some extra coaxing to get them to drink.
If they are drinking significantly less than expected daily, or none at all, consider what other sources of hydration your dog has. If their diet consists of wet or fresh food, they may be getting water from this source.
Testing for Dehydration in Your Dog
The easiest and most common way of diagnosing dehydration in your dog is to check the behavior of their skin. This test is actually a method of checking for dehydration in humans, too.
Loosely pinch a flap of your dog’s skin and pull it away. If your dog is properly hydrated, their skin should snap back to place with ease.
If their skin takes a long time to return to normal, this may be a sign of dehydration.
Other Symptoms of Dehydration in Your Dog
- Irregular diet
- Excessive panting
- Dry nose, eyes, and gums
If your dog seems dehydrated, you should take steps to increase their water consumption. One method of encouraging your dog to drink more is to mix chicken or beef stock in with the water. Positive reinforcement for consuming water can also help. Provide plenty of encouragement and good words when your dog is drinking and give them a treat afterward.
If you see your dog is dehydrated even though they are drinking enough water, contact your vet.
Unless a dog is obviously consuming too much water, or they are not consuming enough, interfering with their water may not be necessary. Leaving their bowl available and full is the easiest way to prevent dehydration. Further, research does not suggest it is unwise to leave your dog with a full water supply.
Just don’t forget to check the bowl often to make sure water is still available. It can be easy to fill the bowl with water and then forget about it, only to come back later and find it completely dry. You will likely see a pattern with how much your dog is drinking over time. Any deviation from this pattern will help to alert you to some of the issues discussed in this article.