As a rule, dogs instinctively know how much they need to drink to maintain good health. However, once in a while a dog doesn't drink as much as he should. If he suddenly quits drinking water, take him to the vet to make sure he isn't seriously ill. Otherwise, if he's a picky drinker, try a few simple tricks to make him more interested in water.
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How Much Is Enough?
Factors including age, health, diet and activity level affect how much water a dog should drink. A healthy, moderately active dog should drink about 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight daily. A dog on a dry diet will require more water than a dog eating canned food because of the dry food's lower water content. According to PetEducation.com, your dog should consume 2.5 times more water in weight than the amount of dry food he eats. If your dog eats 12 ounces of dry food in a day, he should drink 30 ounces, or 3.75 cups, of water, daily.
Whether your dog has a medical condition that affects his hydration level or he's a guy on the go who may overdo it, you should be familiar with the signs of dehydration. The easiest way to test hydration level is to lightly pinch a fold of skin above your dog's shoulder blades. The skin should quickly pop back to its original position. If it isn't resilient -- that is, if it remains a bit pinched or tented -- he needs water. Other signs of dehydration include sticky gums, ropy saliva and dry, sunken eyes. In extreme cases, a dog will become lethargic.
The Vet Steps In
If a dog is mildly dehydrated, you can feed him small amounts of water -- a teaspoon for a small dog and a tablespoon for a large dog -- every 10 minutes over several hours to gradually correct his hydration level. However, if he's lethargic and his skin is tenting, he requires veterinary attention to ensure his organs aren't affected. The vet will administer fluid therapy, subcutaneous or intravenous fluids, as the situation warrants.
Drink, Drink, Drink
Dogs typically drink as much as they need; however, some dogs need encouragement to drink more. Start by providing your dog a clean, scratch-free drinking bowl. Clean his bowl daily and disinfect it regularly to discourage the growth of bacteria and other organisms. Stainless steel and stoneware are good choices because they resist scratches and are easy to clean. If the weather is warm, provide your pup cool water. Outdoors in the winter, you must keep his water from freezing -- but you love him so much you'll have him inside. Meanwhile, if he disdains tap water, try bottled water. Give him more than one bowl: Place bowls wherever he spends his time. See if a bit of no-salt chicken broth increases your dog's interest in his water.
When your dog does drink water, praise him for doing good and treat him to sweeten the deal. Also consider using a doggy water fountain, which will keep his water fresh and may be more intriguing for him. Keep the toilet lid closed so he can't consider that source of bacteria a suitable watering spot. Change his water at the same time each day, refilling to the same level so you can gauge how much he's drinking. Canned food is a good choice for a dog who doesn't care to drink water, with its water content a hefty 70 percent to 80 percent, compared with the 10 percent in dry food.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.