How much water should my dog drink?
Occasionally we get asked how much water a dog should drink each day. Water is vital to the health of your dog and you need to provide access to fresh, clean water at all times but how do we know how much is right?
How much water is normal?
This depends on the size of your dog, how much exercise they do, the temperature outside, if they take medication and finally their diet.
Generally, a dog should drink 25-50ml for every kg they weigh (in a 24 hour period).
For example: a 10kg dog would drink approximately 250-500ml per day and a 33kg dog would need approximatly 825-1,650ml per day.
This is a general guide and the following factors will also affect the amount your dog will drink in a 24hr period:
- Food: If your dog has previously eaten a wet-raw diet they would be expected to drink more water when moving to our food. This is normal. Raw meat contains a high amount of water. For example, a chicken breast is around 70% water so an increase in drinking is to be expected when moving to a dry food. The same also applies to dogs moving from food in cans or pouches which also contain more water. Note - there should be no change if your dog already eats a dry food.
- The temperature outside: A dog's body doesn't have sweat glands like us (except a few on the footpads). To cool down they pant. If it is warm weather they will pant more to cool down, panting means they will lose more water than normal. They will therefore need to replace this by drinking more.
- Exercise and energetic play: Can also cause a dog's body temperature to rise, meaning they will pant. A dog who does regular play/exercise sessions will probably need to drink more water to replace that lost through panting.
- Medication: Some medicines can cause an increase in thirst or a dry mouth. Your vet should pre warn you if this is likely but check if you are not sure.
- Human food: Many human foods contain added salt, be aware of this if you feed scraps. Salty foods will make your dog thirsty and should be avoided if at all possible.
Things to watch out for
- Drinking too much: We all know the importance of providing fresh clean water for our dogs at all times but too much water can also be dangerous, even life threatening. If a dog drinks too much water the sodium levels in the blood stream can become too low (hyponatremia). This can happen suddenly especially when dogs swim or play in water. Playing with sprinklers, retreiving a ball from the water, swimming with a stick in the mouth can mean a dog swallows more water than intended. Keep an eye on how they retrieve a ball, watching if they swim low to the water and take regular breaks so your dog can relieve themselves. It is also best to avoid your dog snapping at a high pressure hose. Symptoms include - staggering or loss of coordination, nausea, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, drooling and light coloured gums. If you suspect water intoxication get to your vet asap.
- Rehydrating after play: if your dog drinks the entire contents of their water bowl after a play session, rest for a short time before filling it up again - drinking a large amout in one sitting can lead to vomiting it back up. If you are out for the afternoon take a travel bowl with you for short drinks rather than a huge one upon returning home.
When to seek help
Excessive thirst can be caused for a few reasons but you should always check with your dog's veterinarian if you are worried.
- Dehydration: Can be caused by hot weather, an illness or too much play/exercise. Dogs pant to cool down and moisture is lost this way. It is normal for your dog to drink more during hot weather or after play. To check if your dog is dehydrated gently pinch the skin at the back of the neck so it stretches then let go. Hydrated skin will return to normal quickly, while dehydrated skin will take a while to return to normal and may sag. Be aware that drinking too much water in one go, especially after exercise, can cause a dog to vomit. If you think your dog is dehydrated contact a vet immediately.
- Illness: Kidney problems, diarrhoea or a vomiting bug, Cushing's syndrome, diabetes, parasites, UTI's among other illnesses can all cause excessive thirst and you should consult your vet if you think something is wrong.
Choose a bowl that takes enough water for your dog. Try to fill it at the same time each day so you can monitor usage. Refresh rather than top up and make sure the bowl is clean. Choose a stainless steel or ceramic bowl over plastic which can leech into the drinking water.
We advise removing unwanted food but you should never remove water. Simply leave it down all day.
Advise for reluctant drinkers
- Some dogs prefer freshly run, cold water or are not keen on tap water. If your dog seems reluctant you can filter the water or purchase a fountain bowl that constantly refills. Try not to allow drinking from puddles as this can cause tummy upset.
- If your dog won't drink from other bowls while out for the day, bring their familiar bowl from home. Be aware some dogs don't like eating or drinking in unfamiliar surroundings.
- If a dog is elderley and seems like they can't be bothered to get up and drink adding a bit of bone broth (no added salt) to the water can encourage more interest.
- You can also add water to their food. With Wolfworthy this will create a tasty, watery gravy.
- Swap a metal bowl for a heavier ceramic one. Some dogs don't like the sound of a metal bowl if it moves on the floor.
Water is vital to the health of your dog. Provide access to fresh, clean water at all times.