If you are like most dog owners, you probably leave water out for your dog and don’t give much thought to how much they are drinking. After all, most dogs just seem to instinctively know how much they need. But there are times when excessive drinking or a lack of thirst can create problems. If you have noticed that your dog is drinking a lot more water than usual, or isn’t drinking very much, you may be wondering just how much water should a dog drink per day. Water is essential for a healthy life, but getting too much or not enough can lead to overhydration or dehydration.
The Importance of Water
Water is what keeps the body functioning correctly. It helps digestion and the absorption of nutrients, removes wastes from the body, maintains the body’s temperature, cushions the joints and spinal cord, and helps move nutrients in and out of the body’s cells. Without enough water, these and other body functions are disrupted, causing dehydration, urinary issues, organ damage, and even death.
And while most people think you can’t drink too much water, overhydration does come with its own set of problems, including water toxicity and electrolyte imbalances. If your dog is drinking way more water than they need, you should have them checked for any condition that could be causing an excessive thirst, such kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or diabetes.
Watching how much water your dog drinks per day may seem tedious, but it could help signal a developing issue. But just how much is the right amount? Of course, the pawfect amount of water will vary based on the size of your dog, as well as other factors. To make things easier, we have created a dog water calculator to help you!
How Much Water Should A Dog Drink?
While there are many factors that go into determining how much water is healthy for a particular dog to drink, we can start by answering the question, “How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?” with this calculator:
½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of dog
That means that for a healthy and moderately active 70-pound Golden Retriever, they should be drinking between 35 to 70 ounces of water per day, which is about 4 1/3 cups to 8 ¾ cups, or ¼ to ½ gallon. For a smaller 15-pound Boston Terrier, this pup should only be drinking between 7.5 to 15 ounces per day, or about 1 to 2 cups.
There are, however, many other things to take into consideration. Hotter temperatures and exercise can cause panting and salivating, which will mean your dog loses moisture and will need to drink more. Some medications may require an increase or decrease in daily water consumption, and pregnant and lactating dogs may need more water daily. The diet of your dog can change water demands too, as dry dog food can have 5-10% water, while a canned wet food can contain upwards of 70-80% water. A dog who is fed primarily wet food may drink less than one who usually eats a dry food.
Age is also an important factor, as how much water a puppy should drink a day is different than what an adult dog should. Give your puppy around a ½ cup of water every two hours, and pay attention to what they drink or don’t drink during this critical growing stage.
With all these different elements, it may be difficult to always know how to avoid dehydration or overhydration in your dog. As with any change in your dog, if you think the condition is serious, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Read on for some signs of these two conditions, and strategies to help you prevent them.
Dehydration and Overhydration
Is your dog acting more lethargic than usual, or perhaps has a dry nose, rope-like saliva, or sunken eyeballs? Check inside your dog’s mouth to see how the gums look. Wet gums are healthy, but pale, dry and sticky gums are an indicator of dehydration. Next, find a piece of skin near the back of your dog’s neck, and pull it up gently with your fingers. Release it and watch how it falls back into place. If it returns immediately, your dog is well hydrated, but if the skin falls back slowly, and forms a tent, your dog needs to consume more water!
Now, before you toss a giant bowl of water in front of your furry pal, know that too much water too fast when dehydrated can cause vomiting. Instead, give small amounts of water over the next three hours in ten minutes increments. For a little pup, that just means a teaspoon at a time, but for bigger doggoes, go with 1 to 2 tablespoons.
With water toxification, or overhydration, you may notice some similar symptoms, such as pale gums and lethargy. But too much water can also cause your dog to vomit, stagger, salivate excessively, bloat, dilate the pupils, glaze the eyes, and cause difficulty in breathing, collapse or coma. Overhydration is most often seen in dogs who spend a lot of time in pools or lakes, and may unintentionally swallow too much water while playing.
There are lots of ways you can ensure that your dog drinks the right amount of water. For those pups who don’t drink enough, be sure to praise them when they do drink, perhaps giving treats as rewards. Keep fresh water available at all times, inside or out, in convenient places. You can make the water more enticing by adding homemade meat or bone broth, without onions and garlic. And you can feed your pup more canned wet foods to get more water into them.
For the overdrinkers, lick bottles used for rabbits or horses can be a convenient way to slow them down on their water consumption, or you can give your dog ice cubes for the same effect. Ration the water bowl by refilling it in smaller amounts throughout the day. If you have a pool or lake pup on your hands, make them take frequent breaks, and be aware how much your dog’s mouth is open in the water.
With proper monitoring, you can ensure your furbulous best friend stays healthy and happy, and well hydrated!