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Water is the building-blocks of life. No animals can survive without water. In fact, humans can survive three weeks without any food, but cannot last for more than about 100 hours (that’s about four days) without water.
Dogs are no different than humans in this regard. They need ready access to water throughout the day to maintain their optimal health. But the question is, how much water do dogs need to thrive?
Why is drinking water so important for dogs?
Most people understand that water is a vital part of any living being’s health. However, you may not be aware of why it is so important. Water’s job is to carry nutrients throughout the body. It deposits the nutrients in cells and carries away waste. Water also acts as a cooling force and is essential for the maintenance of normal body temperature.
If dogs do not get enough water, they can become dehydrated quickly. Water makes up between 70%-80% of an adult dog’s body mass. Without enough water, a dog’s body cannot function properly. In the worst cases, their organs will even shut down, which can result in death.
One of the most essential things we as pet owners provide to our animals should be water. But, too much water can also be an issue. In the rest of this article, we tell you exactly how much water your dog needs to thrive.
How much water do dogs need?
The amount of water a dog needs will vary quite a bit. Just like puppies need different food than adult dogs, they need a different amount of water too. Similarly, large or extra-large breeds will require more water than small breeds. Below we’ve provided a few generalizations.
The AKC recommends that young puppies get about ½ cup of water every two hours. As the puppy ages, you can switch to giving them about ½-1 ounce of water per pound per day.
This math is not as hard as you may think. For example, if you have a thirty-pound puppy, he or she will need fifteen to thirty ounces of water per day.
Adult dogs need about an ounce of water per body weight per day. This may vary depending on the dog and the season. For example, if you have a northern breed dog (like an Alaskan Malamute or Husky) and you live in Tampa Bay, the dog will likely drink more water because they are hot.
All dogs, no matter the breed, will drink more when they are hot or active. It is essential that you take your cues from your dog. Look for signs of dehydration and extra thirst. We discuss dehydration signs below.
How do I provide the right amount of water?
Many adult dogs will regulate their own water intake. The best thing that you can do is provide them access to fresh, clean water at all times. Free choice is the easiest for you and your dog. But, it can go wrong if your dog has a habit of overdrinking—which can lead to throwing up or bloating.
Related: The Best Water Fountains for Dogs
If you want to ensure that your dog doesn’t drink too much, there are a few strategies you can try. First, put only the amount of water they need per day in their water bottle or bowl. This is the easiest strategy. Second, provide water at regular intervals. This is trickier, as you will need to monitor your dog more closely. But, it provides you with the most control over your dog’s drinking habits. Make sure you and your partner or family are agreed on who is doing this – as you don’t want to end up doubling up. Interestingly, one in five pet parents get jealous when their pet(s) pay their partner more attention, so maybe you can split the work!
Puppies are a slightly different story. When you are house training, providing constant access to water can derail your efforts. Puppy’s bladders are very small. They can easily fill up with water, which causes the need for more trips outdoors. Most experts recommend that you give your puppy free access to water during the day unless you are always home and can ensure they get enough water – though try to give your pooch filtered tap water rather than using plastic bottled water in excess. Take away the water for about an hour or two before bed so that you can both sleep all night.
Signs of dehydration
If you are worried that your dog is dehydrated, look for the following signs.
- Their gums are pale and feel dry or sticky.
- Their nose and eyes are dry.
- The skin on your dog’s shoulder blades when pulled back gently, does not snap back readily.
Noticing any of these signs means that your dog needs water immediately. Water is essential to dogs just as it is for humans. Make sure your beloved pets have access to clean water at all times, and they will be able to live their best life.
Emma is a professional writer and blogger, with two furry friends and a lot of pet behavioral and pet health knowledge to share. She has written for numerous big animal magazines and health sites, and is a regular contributor to The Catington Post.