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How much water should a dog drink (and how much is too much)?

Beagle dog drinking advice

How much water should a dog drink?

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Balanced nutrition is just one necessity of a dog. In order for him to stay healthy and fit he also needs water. For us mammals, water makes up a huge amount of our body. If the level of water is too low for whatever reason we will get sick.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 07/03/2020, 18:00

Here we look at a dog’s normal drinking habits, and the causes of problems associated with a lack of water or too much water. A dog’s dehydration is as dangerous to its health as dehydration is to ours. But so too can drinking too much water cause ill health and serious internal damage. Learn how best to get things right.

Your dog needs food and water to survive. Withholding either of them can make an animal very poorly and may even threaten its life. Keep your dog’s water bowl full of fresh water at all times regardless of the outside air temperature.

Why do dogs need water?

In the same way that we cannot survive without water, a dog will quickly perish if he does not drink. Water has the same uses in a canine body as it does in a human body. Water helps to keep a health digestion and aids the body’s absorption of nutrients from dry food. It also helps with temperature regulation, joint health and organ health. In other words water is vital to a dog.

How much water do dogs drink in a day?

A healthy dog of any breed is expected to drink one ounce of water per pound of its body weight every day. Thus, an adult Labrador weighing 70 pounds should normally drink 2 litres of water daily.

There are of course many reasons for his thirst to be greater or less throughout the day. He may have been out for a long walk, the house may be warm, or it may be a baking summer day; all of these factors will make him drink more. On the other hand he may have slept for the majority of the day and not moved from your settee; in which case he may drink less than two litres.

Some types of dog food will make your dog thirstier, especially dry kibble. Canned dog food tends to comprise 70% to 80% water.

Changes in drinking habit

A dog will drink more or less to replenish the level of water in his body. There are times, however, when you may notice your dog’s drinking habits change drastically. Your dog may drink substantially more water if it is poorly.

For instance, if he has developed a metabolic illness such as kidney disease, diabetes or a common condition called Cushing’s disease he will feel thirstier than normal. Additionally, certain medications such as steroid prednisone will cause your dog to drink more water.

Find out more information about the Cushing's disease

Breeds of dog prone to Cushing’s disease include:

To know what is causing your dog to drink more water is exceptionally important, and the diagnosis of a condition can really only be made by a vet. The following diseases and conditions are those most commonly seen of dogs with excessive thirst:

Excessive urination

A side effect of drinking too much is of course urinating a lot. But in cases of over drinking it is important you do not deny your dog water in an attempt to prevent him from wetting the floor. This will only compound his illness and cause him more harm.

Conversely, a decrease in thirst can be as alarming as an increase, and it too points to a physical ailment. A dog may drink less if he feels sick, and of course his sickness may be caused by a disease or metabolic ailment.

At the first sign of a dog drinking far less than it ought to you should take him to the vet to be checked over.

What are the signs of dog dehydration?

You may suspect your dog is dehydrated, especially if he overheats due to excessive exercise. As we have already mentioned, dogs that suffer with physical illnesses (or are pregnant or nursing) may also quickly become dehydrated.

In order to check your dog is not dehydrated carry out the following checks:

  • Gently pinch a loose fold of skin between the dog’s shoulder blades. Release it and let it fall back. If your dog is dehydrated the skin will not fall back as quickly as it should.
  • Check your dog’s gums. If they appear pale and tacky he may be dehydrated.
  • Check your dog’s appearance: if he has sunken eyes and a dry nose he is not a well dog.
  • Observe his breathing. Is he panting? If he is not but he looks hot and bothered he may be dehydrated.
  • Observe your dog’s stool. Is it hard and compacted? Has your dog struggled to pass it? If so, it could be a sign that his body does not carry enough water.
  • Observe your dog’s behaviour. Does he go to his water bowl repeatedly? Does he drink frantically? If so, he may be dehydrated.

Do dogs prefer to drink ice water or room temperature water?

A study carried out at the University of New England in Australia revealed that dogs prefer to drink water of various temperatures depending on how they feel, but that most choose cool water.

The study showed that, “Dogs with the lowest core body temperatures were more inclined to select warm water for drinking than other dogs.

“Dogs are discriminatory in their choice of drinking water and, like humans, have a preference for drinking water that is cool.”

How much water should a 9 week old puppy drink?

The amount a puppy should drink after it is weaned is determined by its size, age, activeness and breed. The American Kennel Club suggests young puppies over the age of eight weeks that are eating solid food should have at least the same amount of water daily as an adult (i.e. one ounce per one pound of body weight).

While he is being nursed by his mother a puppy should not require additional water.

Keep an eye out for signs of a dehydrated weaned puppy. A puppy’s physiology is more fragile than an adult’s and a young dog will quickly become poorly if the balance of fluids in his body is not right.

You should never restrict access to water in order to try to reduce your dog’s fluid intake. Excessive drinking is a sign of a need to replenish fluid. To disallow this may lead to your dog becoming dehydrated.

Furthermore, you should never ignore problems associated with drinking. Both a lack of water and too much water in the system should be investigated. The only way to return your dog’s drinking habits to normal is to tackle the underlying problem, and to do so with the help of a medical professional. If in doubt, always seek advice from your vet.