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How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water? 7 Things You Need to Know

If you have a pet, you likely already have a water bowl, but do you know the significance of water and how it plays an important part in the life processes of a dog’s body?

Dogs must always have access to water, especially if your dog spends extended periods of time alone at home whether you’re working at the office or grabbing groceries. 

In this article, we will go over the basic anatomy of dogs, how much water they need every day, and how to look for signs of dehydration in your dog. 

brown chow chow dog with blue water bowl

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

1. Body Water Percentage in Dogs

Like humans, water is a major component in a dog’s body. Humans and dogs are both made up of about 60% water. 

brown and white dog drinking water how long can a dog go without water

This means that consumption of enough water is necessary for dogs. The amount of required water changes over time with age, body fat, and other health aspects. 

On average, young dogs and puppies have a higher water percentage in their body than older dogs. If your dog is overweight, it will reduce the amount of water percentage in the body as well. 

Dogs who get regular exercise are leaner, which means that they have more muscle in their body compared to fat. Fat does not carry enough water as muscle does, which reduces the amount of water carried per pound in weight. 

Young dogs can have up to 70% to 80% of their body weight in water, and this gradually decreases as they grow older. 

Dogs who are around ten years old do not have the same amount of water in the body, about 50% to 55%. You can read more about this in this article about a dog’s fluid calculations

white retriever drinks out of yellow portable water bowl

2. Amount of Water Needed Per Day

The next question is: How many liters of water does my dog need every day?

This question is easier to answer as dogs and humans do not have many differences in terms of size. For example, the average weight of a chihuahua can range from 1.5 to 3 kilograms. On the other hand, a full-grown English Mastiff can weigh up to a hundred kilograms!

Because weight varies depending on the type of dog, you cannot make a claim on how much water your dog needs per day. Instead, you must have an estimate of how much water he needs based on his weight. 

As a rule of thumb, your dog needs one ounce of water per pound per day. In simpler terms, if your dog weighs 100 pounds, he will need about 3 liters of water per day to stay healthy. 

There are several factors that affect how much water your dog might consume. We will get into the different factors that can cause dogs to drink too much or too little water.

white dog drinks from human water bottle

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3. Factors Affecting Water Consumption

While the “one ounce per pound of body weight” formula might work for most dogs, their appetite and water consumption can change based on their level of activity and age, among other factors. 

Climate

It is obvious that dogs, like humans, will start drinking more water when the weather is hot. Hot weather means dogs need to drink more water to bring down the temperature in the body to offset the external heat of the environment. 

Your dog might drink a lot more water in the summer than he does in winter, especially if you live in a tropical country so this is completely normal. 

Age

As mentioned earlier, young dogs have a higher percentage of water than older dogs. This means that puppies will drink a lot more water than older dogs in proportion to their body size. 

Pregnancy

When a dog is pregnant, she needs more water to support the pregnancy. It is important to keep your dog properly hydrated when she’s carrying babies, otherwise it may adversely affect their health.

Even when a dog has given birth and she’s lactating, her appetite and water intake will be higher than normal due to milk production. Make sure that she has the right number of healthy foods and clean water if the dog is pregnant!

Exercise

This is another obvious factor. Active dogs will burn through their body water faster from sweating and would need water to regulate their body temperature. 

Active dogs tend to have more muscle and less fat, which increases the amount of water present in their body per unit weight, causing them to need more water to keep up with their bodily functions.

shaggy dark brown dog with tongue out

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4. Exactly How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

Going back to the main question, how long can a dog go without water? While this is just for the sake of discussion, there are different answers to this question. 

When we talk about days without water, we are talking from a point of survival. This means that your dog will absolutely need to not just drink water but get medical help at this point. 

The answer to this question is around 2-3 days. The number of days dogs can go without water is the same as humans, and your dog will succumb to dehydration after two to three days. 

There is a time when a dog can go without water without experiencing any major symptoms or any sign of dehydration, which is just about 8 to 10 hours. Within the first 24 hours without water, the signs of dehydration will start to take in effect. 

It’s important for your dog to always have access to the necessary amount of water and should never go an entire day without water for the sake of his health. 

There might be other reasons why your dog is drinking too much or too little water. These symptoms of dehydration can point towards health issues in dogs and would require a check up with a local veterinarian to ensure there’s nothing wrong with your dog’s irregular water intake. 

king charles spaniel drinking from red water bowl

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5. Unhealthy Reasons for Irregular Drinking Patterns

If your dog is drinking more water than normal, it might be a sign of a serious disease or illness. Some of the reasons for this are mentioned below. 

Kidney Abnormalities

If your dog’s kidneys are not functioning properly, he will be thirsty more often and drink a lot more water to flush out his system. This could be a serious, life threatening issue that can lead to death if it is not immediately checked out. 

Diabetes

This is another serious disorder that dogs can suffer from. If they are not getting enough healthy food or have a history of diabetes in their family, medication and a change in their diet may be required.

Infection or Liver Disease

If the liver is involved, it might cause your dog to drink excessive water. 

Make sure that you track your dog’s drinking and urinating patterns before you visit the vet. If your dog is used to wet food or hydrated food, he might not need as much water as dogs who eat dry foods. 

brown and white dog drinking from person's hand

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6. How to See if Your Dog is Dehydrated

If your dog does not get enough fresh water in his system, the lack of water can cause several problems such as severe dehydration which can lead to death. 

brown and white dog with tongue out

To prevent severe dehydration, you need to pay attention to the warning signs of canine dehydration so you can get proper medical attention when it’s necessary. 

Eyes

If your dog’s eyes look sunken, dry, or clouded, this is a sign of dehydration. The signs of dehydration often appear around the face, so it is easier for you to know if adult dogs are not getting enough water. 

Mouth

There are multiple ways where you can check for your dog’s mouth for signs of dehydration. 

The first way is to check his gums. If they are dry and sticky, he might not be getting enough water in the system. 

The second way is to check his saliva. If he has a thick saliva, it can be a sign that he needs to drink more water to be completely healthy again. 

Nose

A healthy and well-hydrated dog will have a moist nose. If your dog’s nose is dry, it means that he is dehydrated and unhealthy. 

Energy

A loss of water in the system will make him lazy and lethargic. If your dog is usually extremely active but starts showing signs of reduced energy, it might be a sign of dehydration. 

Panting

Dogs usually pant when they’ve either been exercising or if it is hot outside. If your dog experiences an extended period of panting heavily, there might be a chance that your dog needs to hydrate properly. 

Vomiting

Vomiting is a sign of dehydration in all kinds of animals and humans. If your dog is vomiting every time, he drinks some water or eats food, it is a good idea to take him to the vet. 

Diarrhea

Diarrhea and loose stools can both be a cause and effect of dehydration. It might be caused by salty foods or other reasons, but you should take it to the vet if it does not stop. 

Skin

Dogs have elastic skin. Early signs of dehydration appear on the body when the skin loses its elasticity. This could be a sign that he needs more water to keep his organs healthy and his body temperature in check. 

Appetite

If your dog is not eating enough food for an extended period, this might be a sign of dehydration or some other underlying cause and might need medical intervention. 

Capillary Refill Test

This is an easy way to see if your dog is properly hydrated in two steps – use your finger and press down on a red area of the dog’s gums. A healthy and well-hydrated dog’s gums will turn white and return to pink immediately. 

The change in color will take a much longer time if your dog is dehydrated. 

beagle dog with pink tongue in clear water bowl

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7. How to Make Your Dog Drink More Water

If your canine friends aren’t drinking enough water, it can affect their activity level and blood pressure, and can cause more problems like poor appetite, kidney diseases, or other serious issues. 

Below are a few tips to ensure that they are getting hydrated properly:

  • Always keep his water bowl clean and full of fresh water. 
  • The placement of his water dish is important as well. Keep it right next to his food where he spends a lot of his time. 
  • Positive reinforcement works! Give him a treat every time he finishes his water will encourage him to drink more. 
  • Put chicken or beef broth in his water dish to make it easier to drink.
  • Dogs also like raw goat milk – yes really!
  • Dogs love ice cubes! Give your canine friend some ice cubes to get his water intake up or make ice cubes or popsicles out of bone, chicken or beef broth.

With these simple tips, you can ensure that your dog gets a cup of water every few hours, and therefore keep up his water intake and give him a healthy life. 

white dog with red kerchief drinking water

The Bottom Line

Your dog is your best friend and taking care of him is an important part of your life. This comes with keeping him always hydrated, so he does not fall sick. 

In this article, we discussed how much water your dog needs, how to check if he is dehydrated, how long a dog can go without water, and the simple tips you can take to encourage your dog is always getting enough water.

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