When it comes to caring for our furry companions, we often focus on selecting the right types and amounts of food and may overlook a vital component: water. Just like humans, all dogs require an adequate intake of water to maintain their overall well-being.
Let’s dive in and discover why water is so essential for your dog’s health and vitality.
How Much Water Should Dogs Drink?
A dog’s daily water intake should be determined by its size, diet, age, activity level, and weather conditions.
But, generally speaking, a healthy dog should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.1
If we do the math, this means that a 10-pound dog should drink approximately 10 fluid ounces per day, while a 100-pound dog should drink roughly 100 fluid ounces in a day.
We then need to look at dogs who eat only dry food. They will need more water than those eating wet food or homemade foods which can contain 65-80% water.2
Finally, there’s exercise and weather. Both of these can increase a dog’s necessary water intake. It is important to monitor your dog’s water intake when they’ve been exercising or the weather is particularly hot, and provide plenty of fresh, clean water at all times.3
Providing an ample supply of water for your dog to freely access enables them to decide when they need it (which is not too different from keeping a water bottle at your own work desk).
What Happens If You Don’t Give Your Dog Enough Water?
When we talk about water as nutrition for dogs, it really is no different than when we talk about humans needing water to live. Quite simply, dogs need water to survive and maintain optimal health.
Dehydration can be dangerous and lead to various health problems. Dogs that are dehydrated may experience lethargy, dry nose, sunken eyes, and pale gums. Long-term consequences of dehydration can be deadly.4
Providing an adequate supply of water at all times assists in almost every important body function in your dog’s body, such as lubricating joints, cushioning internal organs, aiding digestion, and regulating body temperature.5
What Are The Benefits Of Water For Dogs?
1. Water aids digestion and absorption of nutrients
Water is an essential nutrient for dogs, as it facilitates every metabolic process that occurs in their body.
Water for dogs is critical for carrying nutrients around the body, helping with digestion, and aiding in nutrient absorption. It also helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints, helps support cognitive function, and cushions the brain and spinal cord.6
Dehydration can lead to constipation and other digestive problems in dogs. A lack of sufficient water in the body can cause the colon to absorb too much water from the food, making it difficult to pass stool.7
2. Water helps regulate body temperature
Thermoregulation is the process by which an animal regulates its body temperature to maintain a stable internal environment.
This process is particularly necessary for dogs, as they’re unable to sweat as humans do. Instead, they rely on other mechanisms, such as panting and water consumption, to help regulate their body temperature. When a dog pants, it releases water through respiration, which helps cool down its body temperature.8
Water also helps to transport heat away from the dog’s organs through the blood. This process helps ensure that the dog’s organs function correctly, even when the body temperature is high.9
3. Water helps support joint health
Maintaining joint health is key to a dog’s overall mobility and quality of life. Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining healthy joints in dogs. Water helps lubricate the joints, reducing friction and allowing for smooth movement.10
Without proper hydration, dogs may experience joint-related issues, including stiffness and discomfort.11
4. Water helps eliminate waste products
Water plays a very important role in eliminating waste products from a dog’s body.
After assisting with digestion, water helps transport waste products around the body. It helps the kidneys to function so they can filter waste products out and eliminate them through urine.12
5. Water helps support healthy energy levels
When a dog is dehydrated, it may feel lethargic and lack energy, making it difficult to perform daily activities. And as you read earlier, water helps to maintain fluid balance in the body, which is necessary for normal metabolic functions and energy.13
It also facilitates the transport of nutrients to cells, which, in turn, provides energy for dogs’ bodies.14
6. Water helps support a healthy weight
Water can be a powerful tool in doggie weight management, as it can fill up the stomach, satisfy cravings, and reduce calorie intake. Adding water to dry kibble may help increase water consumption.15
What Are The Best Sources Of Hydration For Dogs?
The number one best source of hydration for dogs is fresh, clean water.
Other good sources include:
- Wet food (or adding water to dry food)
- Homemade broths
- Fresh, pet-safe fruits and vegetables
- Small pieces of ice or ice shavings16
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Dehydrated?
It’s essential that pet owners are able to recognize the signs of dehydration in their pup early on.
One way to check if your dog is dehydrated is by gently pinching the skin between their shoulder blades and observing how quickly it returns to its original position. If the skin slowly returns or stays pulled up for an extended period, your dog may be dehydrated.17
Other symptoms to look out for include dry and sticky gums, sunken eyes, lethargy, excessive panting, reduced urination, loss of appetite, and thick saliva.18
If you notice any of these symptoms, take immediate action by offering them fresh water and water-rich foods, such as dry dog food with water added to it or hydrating treats.
If the issues persist or worsen, consult with your vet immediately for a proper diagnosis. Remember, early identification can avert health complications, so dehydration should be addressed promptly.
What Are The Consequences Of Providing Too Much Water For My Dog?
Can your dog become over-hydrated?
As important as it is to avoid dehydration, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.“Water intoxication” can come on suddenly, and can be extremely dangerous for your dog.19
Excessive water intake is usually caused by such things as swimming, diving, or water retrieving. Cross-training in swimming pools also puts dogs at risk of ingesting too much water, as does biting the stream of water from the end of a garden hose. This is particularly a risk in smaller dogs.20
Lower-than-normal sodium levels are a classic sign of water intoxication, as are:
- loss of coordination
- pale gums
- dilated pupils
- glazed eyes 21
See your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may be suffering from water intoxication.
In conclusion, water is a vital component of your dog’s diet, and its importance cannot be overstated.
Proper hydration is essential for maintaining your dog’s health. Water helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, supports organ function, and helps promote skin and coat health.
Always ensure that your dog has free access to plenty of clean, fresh water. And remember to monitor their water intake — especially during hot weather or periods of increased activity.
By prioritizing your dog’s hydration needs, you can help contribute to their longevity and happiness.