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How much water does your dog need?

We find out exactly how to get your dog to drink and how much water your dog should be drinking

Is there anything more frustrating than when your dog won’t drink water on a hot day?

They've been out for a walk, they’re panting and you know they must be thirsty. But when you point them towards their water bowl, they just ignore it and walk away.

Going to extreme lengths to get your dog to drink

We know one person who goes to exceptional lengths to encourage his friend’s Poodle to drink water. He turns on the water fountain in the park, then sticks his thumb in the water so it sprays out towards to the Poodle, who joyfully catches the droplets as they fall.

Quite possibly, the dog is more focused on the game and the attention than actually drinking the water. In her eyes, it’s probably a bonus that she’s being hydrated at the same time.

But we can't all spend our time going around sticking our thumbs in water fountains just to make sure our furry friends are getting enough water to drink. So how can we encourage them to drink enough water, as often as possible? And how much water do they need to drink in the first place?

Dog drinking water from fountain

How much water does your dog need to drink?

One study that we found says that dogs need to drink between approximately 0.3-1.2 fl. oz. per lb. of body weight, every day.

Elsewhere, we’ve seen people mention giving a dog between 0.8-1.7 fl. oz. of water per lb., per day.

If you were to look at a figure of 0.8 fl. oz. of water per lb., that would mean that a 70lb Labrador would need 56 fl. oz. of water a day.

A small breed like a Chihuahua would need to drink much less water, while a huge dog such as a Newfoundland would need more water.

How to know when your dog needs more water

Dogs need to drink more water than usual if:

  • They’re eating dry food, rather than wet food (check the label / ask your veterinarian for guidance)
  • They’re lactating
  • The weather is especially hot and they risk developing heatstroke
  • The weather is especially cold, as there’s less humidity in the atmosphere so it’s easier for your dog to become dehydrated
  • They’ve been getting a lot of exercise.

Of course, water needs will vary according to the individual dog. What’s important is to make sure that your dog always has access to a good supply of fresh drinking water.

The secret of a good slurp

Does your dog make a mess when they drink their water? Sunny Jung, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, has investigated why dogs can't help splashing water all over the place when they drink.

She says it’s because dogs can't seal their cheeks completely, so they can't suck up water in the same way that humans do. Instead, they “smash their tongues” onto the surface of the water to create columns of water that then feed up into their mouths.

So, we can’t blame dogs for splashing water all around their bowls. It’s all down to their biology.

Dog drinking water from bowl

Why does your dog need to drink water?

Just like humans, around 60% of your dog’s body is made up of water. And just like us, water helps to keep them healthy, by supporting the digestive process, helping the kidneys to flush toxins out of the body, and promoting blood circulation.

Water is an essential part of your dog’s diet and if they don’t get enough, it can quickly cause them problems.

How to spot dehydration in dogs

If your dog doesn't drink enough water to stay properly hydrated, they can develop canine dehydration. Have a look at this blog to see the signs of dehydration in dogs and what to do if your dog is suffering from dehydration.

Your dog won't be able to tell you if they're thirsty, so you’ve got to pay close attention to any signs of fatigue or other unusual behavior on hot summer days.

How to get your dog to drink water

Some dogs will naturally drink enough water, without any extra nudging. However, if your canine pal needs a little encouragement to drink more water, here are a few tips.

  1. Put out a few water bowls around the house. Make sure that your dog has easy access to water whenever they need it by putting water bowls in their favorite places – such as the kitchen, in the backyard and near their bed.
  2. Give them wet food / add water to their food. This is an easy way to increase the amount of water that your dog takes in each day.
  3. Offer them meat-flavored water. It doesn’t sound very appetizing to humans, but this could tempt a fussy dog to drink. Try adding some low-sodium bone broth or gravy to their water.
  4. Provide a dog water fountain. Dog water fountains have in-built filters to remove nasty smells and tastes, offer constant running water, and also give your dog a chance to play in the spray.
  5. Take water on walks. When you’re on the go, make sure you always have a supply of fresh water for your dog by carrying a dog water bottle or a collapsible water bowl and bottled water with you.

If in doubt…

If your dog hasn’t had any water for 24 hours, take them to the vet. And if you think they might be dehydrated, get them checked out by your vet as soon as you spot the tell-tale signs.

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