How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

Water Intake For Dogs

Water is the most important yet frequently neglected nutrient. We pay attention to protein needs, calories, and supplements but we rarely think whether our dogs drink enough water through the day.

Water is vital for life because of two main reasons:

  • Over 70% of the dog’s body is made of water
  • Every process in the body requires water.

How do dogs drink water?

Unlike us, dogs have incomplete cheeks, and they cannot suck the way we can. Despite this anatomical drawback, dogs are efficient at quenching their thirst. So, how is that possible?

Well, there is a lot of brilliance and a dash of physics behind the dog’s drinking dynamics. Namely, we used to think that the dog drinks by scooping water with its tongue, or in simple words, it uses its tongue like a spoon.

A new study revealed that the scooped-up water does not enter the mouth at all. Instead, the dog splashes its tongue into the water, and as the tongue goes back into the mouth, the water near the front of the tongue gets pulled into the mouth. Then, the dog snaps its mouth shut, and the water gets trapped inside the mouth.

In terms of splashing, dogs are messy drinkers. However, in terms of efficacy, they are rear drinking machines – they can drink 1 to 2 milliliters (0.03-0.06 ounces) per lap or 300 milliliters (10 ounces) per hour.


How Much Water Do Dog's Need?

Dog Weight Pounds Water Needs ounces Water Needs milliliters














































dog drinking water with line drawings of water bottle and h20 symbol

Generally speaking, a healthy adult dog needs around 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight.

However, there are many factors influencing the water needs. For example:

  • Working dogs and dogs that are physically active have higher needs than dogs with sedentary lifestyles.
  • Pregnant females and nursing mothers have higher water needs.
  • Puppies and senior dogs drink more water per pound than adult dogs.
  • During extreme hot weather or mildly warm weather with dry winds, dogs need more water than usually. Hot conditions can triple or even quadruple a dog’s water needs.
  • Dogs fed kibble have higher water needs than dogs fed homemade diets. This is because kibble contains only 5-10% moisture while homemade meals have 65-80% moisture.

A Hydrated Dogs Vs Dehydrated Dog

Hydrated Dog Dehydrated Dog Test/Parameters

Good Skin Elasticity

Reduced skin elasticity

Pinching skin into a pocket like formation to see how long it takes to fall back into place

Bright & shiny eyes

Sunken eyes with dull look

Inspecting the eyes with an ophthalmoscope or under a light source

Pink & Moist Gums

Dark & Dry Gums

Lifting the upper lip to expose the gums

Normal saliva

Sticky & rope like saliva

Checking the saliva's density under the fingers

Odorless & clear to yellow urine

Strong smelling & dark urine

Taking a urine sample

Good Energy Levels

Decreased energy levels

Observing the dog's overall behavior and mental alertness

CRT (capillary refill time) less than 2 seconds

Prolonged CRT more than 2 seconds

Pressing the gums to see how long does it take for the pressed point to turn from white to pinkish red

Normal HCT (hematocrit- blood cells to blood ratio)

Increased HCT

Taking a blood sample

Drinking problems in dogs

When it comes to water intake in dogs, there are two drinking problems:

  • Drinking too much water
  • Not drinking enough water.

Drinking too much water can occur due to:

  • Diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus
  • Cushing’s disease
  •  Liver issues
  •  Kidney issues
  • Infections and fever· 
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications (seizure meds, heart failure meds and anti-inflammatories).

Drinking too much water is dangerous as it can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxication or hyponatremia develops as a result of excessive blood dilution. Water intoxication triggers the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  •  Vomiting
  •  Glazed eyes and staggering
  • Difficult breathing
  •  Seizures.

Water intoxication is a medical emergency that requires prompt and adequate veterinary attention.

Not drinking enough water is also a life-threatening situation frequently caused by pain. The lack of water intake will cause dehydration and once the organism is dehydrated all bodily functions and processes are inhibited.

All sudden changes in the drinking patterns warrant immediate trips to the vet’s office.

How to treat a dog who is overheating

Dehydration due to heat and heat-related issues (stress, exhaustion, stroke) is a complex condition that warrants immediate veterinary attention. A dog experiencing a heat-related issue in addition to being dehydrated has an abnormally high body temperature. In such cases, you need to provide first aid and in the meanwhile seek veterinary help. The first aid has two goals:

  • Cooling your dog down (it is important to act quickly and use the things that come to hand) - you can wrap your dog in wet towels, towels of bags filled with ice, or even use a water hose if you have one near you.
  • Managing the dehydration - this can be tricky, especially if your dog is in shock. Placing ice cubes into its mouth and keeping the mouth moist is a good first aid. Keep in mind that heatstroke can result in seizures. You must never put anything inside a seizuring dog’s mouth. In this case, the ice cube can end up the wrong pipe and cause choking.

Once you are at the vet’s office, the vet will rehydrate the dog by administering intravenous fluids. If the blood vessels are too shrunk because of the dehydration it might be impossible to insert an intravenous catheter. As an alternative, the vet will apply the saline solution under your dog’s skin. This is a less efficient rehydration way as fluids need more time to absorb from under the skin than they need from inside the blood vessels. Plus, once the saline is applied under the skin it will form a pocket-like bulge. This is a purely esthetic issue - once the fluid absorbs, the pocket will disappear.

The Importance of Giving Dog's Clean Water

When it comes to quenching thirst, dogs do not have discriminate palates. Namely, dogs are known for their tendency to drink from unusual places – toilets, muddy puddles, bath tubs, flower pots and vases, ponds and lakes, and water sprinkles.

This water sources are not only gross but also potentially dangerous. For example, ponds often harbor a variety of harmful microorganisms such as the protozoa Giardia; lakes are infested with algae that can release certain toxins in the water and vase water can be toxic if it held a flower that is toxic to dogs.

Therefore, although it may seem funny to watch your dog’s creativity in finding alternative water sources, do not encourage the habit as it can be quite risky.

It should be noted that the water from the dog’s drinking bowl can become dangerous if the water levels are left too low. This is because bacteria normally develop inside the water bowl. However, when the water content is low, the bacteria concentrations rise to a point they can cause actual issues.

Encouraging Dogs to Drink More Water

If your dog is not drinking enough water, there are several encouragement tips:

  • Offer ice cubes – the dog will lick and play and indirectly consume more water
  • Flavored water – you can add tuna juice, chicken or bone broth to the water
  • Place several different water bowls on various locations around the house and in the yard
  • If spending the day out, always have a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of water on hand
  • Make sure the bowls are always clean and filled with fresh water. The bowl should be cleaned daily by hand and in the dishwasher once or twice per week. The water inside the bowl should be changed at least twice a day.  

Dog Water Bowls

Your dog's water bowl matters more than you might think. There are three important bowl-related factors:

  • Size – it is always better to choose a larger bowl as it can hold more water. This is particularly important if you spend most of the day out of your home. However, if the water bowl is too big, your dog might be tempted to play with its content rather than drink it.
  • Shape – the dog must feel comfortable while drinking. If the bowl’s edges put pressure on the throat and neck the dog might feel reluctant to use it. The shape of the bowl should be chosen in accordance with the dog’s snout length.
  • Type – if you are dealing with a particularly messy drinker, you should get a non-spill water bowl. That way you will make sure the water from the bowl does not end up on the floor.

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