Is Your Dog Getting Enough Water?
While most of the time dogs are pretty good at managing their water intake, it can be especially hard in summer months to be sure they’re drinking enough water. There’s a number of reasons your dog may not be getting enough and here are our favorite tips for helping pups stay hydrated.
How to Keep Your Dog Hydrated
- Add water to food with meals. The easiest thing to do is add water to your dogs food, you don’t need to add too much but it’s safe to add as much as you feel they need. A good rule of thumb is half a cup of water for every cup of dry food. For wet food, you can adjust the amount depending on the type of wet food you use but there’s very little risk of using too much water.
Just add your dogs food to their bowl, pour water over the top, and give it a good mix before setting it down. Another great tip for dogs that may need a lot of water, is to do a mix of water, dry food, and wet food. This will cut down on any dehydration your dog is getting from dry food alone and is especially good for outside dogs or dogs that get hot easily.
- Bring water with you on walks. Another very simple way to get your dog more is to carry water with them when they need it. Just like people, on a hot day its hard to hydrate properly if you drink all your water after you get home, taking breaks in the shade will help your pup cool off, and also give them time to get a few sips in and stay hydrated.
The same goes for any long trip, any time of year. If you take your pup on a 4 hour drive, chances are they’ll need to drink some water before the end of it! Keep a collapsible water bowl and some designated pup water in your car for any longer drives.
- Give your dog ice cubes during the day. Some dogs love to eat ice, and others are completely uninterested but this tip is always worth a try. Just add a couple ice cubes to a bowl if you’re worried about a mess and let your dog investigate. Only give them a few pieces at a time, and try to avoid it seeming like a treat so your pup will take some time to chew and not scarf down the ice cubes.
Not only can the ice keep your dog cooler, but it’ll encourage your dog to get some extra hydration they may be missing. This is a great treat for your dog after a hot walk and most pups enjoy the satisfying crunch that ice has.
- Add broth or stock to water for flavor. For really stubborn dogs, this is a favorite way to trick them into drinking more. We highly recommend using a low-sodium chicken broth or stock. Adding just a quarter cup for each cup of water will just about guarantee your dog will drink it all up! Just be sure to monitor how much you’re giving them, your dog may seem thirstier but try to wean them off the broth or stock if they seem to be drinking more to keep the amount of sodium in their diet low.
This is also a handy way to help a dog with chewing issues or recovering from surgery get more water and more nutrients. Supplementing a soft food diet with broth will keep your pup well-nourished if they have trouble eating all of their regular food.
- Switch to wet dog food. Wet dog food can really help make sure your dog is getting all the fluids they need in a day. For the most part, canned dog foods will have the highest amount of water
How much water does your dog need?
The amount of water your dog will need to drink can change quite a bit throughout the year and throughout their life. Generally speaking, dogs need anywhere from 200ml to 6,000ml a day! That said, you can probably narrow down how much your dog will need with just a couple of factors.
A note about food
As we mentioned, wet and dry food can make a big difference in how much water your dog gets. Wet food can make up half your dogs water intake but there are some big differences between canned, fresh, and raw dog foods.
Assume your dog is getting somewhere from 25%-50% of their water if you’re feeding them wet food, err on the higher side with canned foods, and err on the lower side with raw or fresh foods.
How hot is it outside?
Just like you, dogs need more water on hotter days. While dogs don’t sweat like people (but they do sweat!), they lose quite a bit of water through panting. Dogs will occasionally ‘sweat’ out through the pads in their feet, but most dogs lose moisture through their respiratory tract.
Depending on just how hot it is, your dog could need twice as much water on a warm day than a hot day. In general, consider any day over 70 degrees to be ‘warm’ and plan to have more water available for your pup.
How active is your dog?
For a dog, panting is much more than them just catching their breath, this is actually the main way your dog keeps cool in the hotter months! Breathing for a dog is like sweating for a human- the more they’re panting, the more water they probably need to drink.
Being active, think a fast-paced walk or running around in a dog park, can double how much water your dog will need. This means after a long walk on a summer day, your dog may need 3 times as much water as they would on a lazy, indoor day in winter. It’s one of the main reasons we recommend bringing a portable bowl and water for your dog, it doesn’t hurt to take a break and see if they want a drink part way through the walk, the rest will also help your dog avoid overdoing it.
What breed is your dog?
Smaller breeds can usually get by with 250ml to 1,000ml on a normal day with few exceptions. Bigger dogs though require more water, and it can start to vary greatly by breed. Heavier, long-haired dogs need the most water, usually 1,500ml to 2,000ml on a cool day. Short-haired dogs won’t need quite as much water on hot days as long-haired dogs, but still can drink as much as 1,000ml to 1,500ml.
Short-nosed dogs are especially vulnerable to hot weather because their respiratory tract is less efficient. Breeds like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and others all need extra attention on hot days or when being very active. Always make sure they have a cool spot to rest and water to drink. For walks, stay closer to home so that you can get them indoors if the heat starts to be too much for them.
When you might want to see the vet
You should never need to force your dog to drink water. Some puppies may go through phases where they struggle to manage their water intake, but a dog will usually know how much they need to drink if you keep water available for them.
If your dog seems like they really aren’t drinking water when they need it, it’s time to go to the vet. Especially pay attention to your dogs panting, if it seems like they take a long time to recover from heat or exercise, it could be sign of a different problem entirely than water intake.
While all of these factors can be great in helping figure out if your dog is drinking enough water or not, in general dogs are great at managing their own water intake. Just leave plenty of water out and refill their bowl frequently! Cleaning their bowl every few days can also help if your dog seems to be avoiding their water dish (just imagine if you had to drink from the same cup for a week)!
The best rule of thumb to know how much water your dog actually needs is pretty simple- take the number of times your dog will empty their bowl on a regular day, double that for very hot days (80 degrees and above) and double again if they’ve been more active than usual. If your dog empties their bowl once in a normal day, they may need to drink 2-3 bowls on a hot day, and 4 bowls if you took them out on a long walk to the dog park on top of that.