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How Much Water Should Your Dog Really Drink

The question, “How much water should a dog drink?” is difficult to answer. Many factors affect water intake. For this reason, it isn’t possible to give a definitive answer as to exactly how much water a dog should drink. As a general rule of thumb, ½ to 1 fluid ounce of water per pound of bodyweight per day.

How much water should a dog drink, will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Breed
  • Diet
  • Activity Level
  • Weather

Just as you will notice if your dog isn’t eating, it’s also a good idea to also observe changes in your dog’s normal drinking habits. Changes in drinking habits can be an early indicator of any potential health problems.

Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times, and it must be changed daily. This routine allows you a good opportunity to see how much your dog is drinking and if there are any significant changes. If you do notice a change, first consider all of the above. Have you changed your dog’s diet? Has he had more or less activity than normal? Has there been a change in the weather, is it a very hot or wet day? All of these things will make a difference to how much water a dog should drink each day.


Testing Hydration Levels

Rather than simply observing how much water is gone from your dog’s bowl each day, there are other ways you can check your dog’s hydration levels.

As with human urine, dog urine should be clear, pale yellow and almost odorless. If your dog’s urine is cloudy, dark yellow or orange, this is a sign of dehydration or a possible urinary tract infection. If it’s pink or red, this could indicate the presence of blood which requires urgent testing by a qualified veterinarian to isolate and treat the cause. Smell is another good indicator. If the urine has a strong offensive odor, it can also indicate infection. A sweet smell can sometimes indicate diabetes or Cushing’s disease. Either way, get it checked out.

The scruff test is another simple way to check for dehydration. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently pinch together a chunk of skin at the scruff of the neck (the part where the Mother dog picks up her pups). When you release it, it should immediately return to normal. If it takes a few seconds or more to return to normal, then it is an indication the dog is dehydrated.


What To Do About Dehydration

If you observe signs of dehydration and your dog doesn’t want to drink, try placing water in different areas around the house and yard. This will ensure he always has easy access. You can also try giving a bowl of chicken or bone broth or add water or broth to your dog’s dry food. If you only feed dry food, consider changing the dog’s diet to canned wet food or a raw food diet, this will provide more moisture.

Not drinking can be a sign of something being wrong. Prolonged dehydration can lead to organ damage and other health issues. Better get it checked out by a veterinarian.


Dog Drinking Excessive Water

On a hot sunny day following lots of vigorous exercise, it’s natural for your dog to drink more water. In this instance, it’s actually important to ensure that your dog isn’t drinking excessive water. Offer small amounts at regular intervals, every 10 to 20 minutes until your dog has cooled down and relaxed. Then you can allow him to drink ad lib again.

Dogs that like water, such as swimming and playing in water, can also ingest too much. A dog drinking excessive water can lead to a condition called “Water Intoxication” - rather like secondary drowning in humans. It can produce symptoms such as:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Glazed expression
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive saliva


In severe cases it can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

If you notice your dog drinking excessive water, it could be a sign of diseases such as diabetes, Cushing’s or kidney failure.


How Water Should Be Given

Water should be changed daily and replaced with clean, fresh water. Very cold water is not good for your dog and can cause pain, stomach upset and vomiting. Room temperature water is a lot easier on the stomach.

It’s a good idea to get a weighted water bowl that has a heavy base with a rubber bottom. This helps prevent the bowl from being accidentally knocked over.

How much water should a dog drink? Get to know what’s normal for your dog. If you feel something is wrong, then a trip to the vet is a good idea.


If you have dogs that like water, download our E-Book Water Dogs for water games, tricks, and safety tips!