While it's true that every animal needs water to survive, there are some animals, like the koala, sand cat, and kangaroo rat, that can go their entire lives without drinking a drop of the stuff because they get all their hydration from their food. Dogs, on the other hand, are not one of these creatures. Dogs need regular access to water to avoid dehydration, which can be dangerous and even deadly.
Leave the water — usually
Overall, dogs are fairly good at self-regulating their water consumption and will not over-drink if water is left out all day. Many experts, including the team at Dog Food Advisor, say you should never leave your dog without access to water since she is at risk of dehydration. Dogs lose hydration not only through defecation and urination but even by cooling their body temperature through panting. Not only should you leave water out at all times, but you should also change the water twice a day, clean the bowl daily, and make sure it is large and full enough to avoid allowing it to reach a dangerous concentration of germs from the dog's mouth, which can cause disease.
A dog's daily water needs
Your dog needs one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day, according to Dog Time, and he may need more if the weather is hot, if he recently exercised, or if he is taking a medication that can cause dehydration. In other words, a 25-pound dog should drink 25 ounces or more of water per day.
Water is necessary to help the body perform its most basic functions, including digestion, circulation, waste filtration, and body temperature regulation. If he becomes dehydrated, he may suffer kidney, heart, or other dangerous medical problems.
Signs of dehydration
Symptoms of dehydration in dogs may include lethargy, dry gums, and sunken, darkened eyes. If you pinch your pup's skin, it should quickly snap back to its original position. If it moves slowly, this can be a sign your dog is dangerously dehydrated.
You can also try pressing on the dog's gums. A healthy dog's gums will go from white to pink again in only two seconds. If it takes longer than that for the gums to return to their normal color, your dog could be dehydrated.
If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, take her to the vet as soon as possible. The vet should be able to use an IV to administer hydrating fluids and look over your dog to see the cause of the problem and if the dehydration caused any additional complications.
Exceptions to free water access
The more a dog drinks, the more he will have to urinate, which is why some sources recommend limiting a pup's access to water while housetraining. But because the risk of dehydration is much greater than the risk of a slow housebreaking period, it is still best to provide your dog with water at all times. The exception is at night, when you should restrict your puppy's access to water two hours before bed, according to Labrador Training HQ. Limiting water intake and taking the pooch out to potty just before bedtime will help him go through the night without requiring you to have to take him outside multiple times or risk him having an accident. After housetraining is over, you can start leaving the water out overnight.
If you have a young child, be sure to keep the dog's water bowl out of her reach because even something as shallow as a 2-inch water dish can be enough to drown an infant.
Petsho warns that puppies may occasionally drink too much water if they just exercised or are particularly hot. For this reason, you may need to monitor your pup to make sure he is not drinking too much water and if he is, limit his intake accordingly. Excessive hydration is much rarer than dehydration but can be just as dangerous. However, excessive hydration is almost never a problem in adult dogs. But if you notice your puppy is drinking more than 24 ounces of water per day, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible to discover the underlying cause for the overhydration.
Finally, on rare occasions, vets may ask you to limit your dog's access to water prior to an appointment or surgery, or because they have prescribed a medication that requires such precautions.
- How and Whys: 10 Animal Species That Don't Drink Water
- Dog Time: Keeping Your Dog Hydrated
- Dog Food Advisor: Water — Your Dog’s Most Neglected Daily Nutrient
- Clark County Fire Department: Drowning Prevention
- Petsho: Puppy Intake Water Schedule
- Labrador Training HQ: House Training: Feeding Choices Make A Massive Difference