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Ask the Vet Tech: How Much Water Does My Dog Need?

Q: How much water should my dog drink daily for optimal health? 
A: Water intake depends on several factors—including your dog’s size, weight, overall health, any meds your animal may be taking, and of course the ambient temperature. 

As pet lovers, we all want our dogs to live long, healthy, and enjoyable lives. And like humans, dogs require adequate hydration to keep their bodies’ systems functioning at their best. So how much water does your dog need? Let’s take a closer look at a few of the key determining factors. 

Recommended Water Intake for Dogs

On average, a healthy adult dog needs between 0.5 and 1.0 ounces of water per pound of body weight daily. For example, a 40-lb. dog would need between 20 and 40 ounces of water per day. Puppies need about 0.5 cups of water every 2 hours and should be monitored. 
Water intake also depends on the ambient temperature. Like us, dogs are warm-blooded animals, but unlike humans, they do not perspire. So they must rely on panting to regulate their body temperature. On hot days, provide your dog with ample and easily accessible water.  
Also, check any meds your animal may be taking. Some could make your pet more vulnerable to dehydration. Ask your vet about the meds your animal is on, and whether they pose a dehydration risk or affect your dog’s ability to regulate body temperature.   

What Could Excessive Thirst Mean? 

Polydipsia (over-drinking of water) and polyuria (excessive urination) can indicate serious and potentially life-threatening kidney disease. Similarly, a dog's inability to expel wastes from its body is equally serious and can quickly put your pet at risk for kidney failure or sepsis.  
Other potential causes of excessive thirst include diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and certain forms of cancer. If your dog is persistently thirsty and is over-consuming water, it could be a sign of a serious condition. Contact your vet and schedule a visit. 

Learn to Spot the Warning Signs of Dehydration 

Whether you and your pet live an active, outdoor lifestyle or are homebodies, learning to spot the signs of dehydration early could help save your pet’s life. Dehydration symptoms include:  
• Loose skin (loss of skin elasticity) 
• Reduced appetite 
• Panting 
• Sticky or tacky gums 
• Vomiting 
• Lethargy 
• Dry nose 
• Sunken eyes 

Dehydration can affect your pet’s gastrointestinal system, nutrition, muscle function, and nerve and brain function. If you notice these symptoms in your animal, provide a water source immediately. If your dog is not vomiting and can keep water down, administer an ounce or two of water (or Pedialyte) at 10-minute intervals until your animal stabilizes, then contact your vet. 

Keeping Your Pet Cool  

The best way to prevent dehydration is to allow your pet easy access to water. If your dog is going to be outdoors in warm weather, provide a shady place for your animal to rest and cool down. Also, you may want to give your pet a periodic gentle rubdown with a damp cloth to mimic the evaporative cooling effect of perspiration.  

Remember also, that small-breed dogs are more vulnerable to dehydration than their larger cousins, so if you have a small dog, be sure it has access to water, especially on hot days.   
We hope you find this article helpful. If you have questions or believe your dog may be suffering from dehydration. Call your vet. 

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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