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Water is the single most important element of a dog’s diet because it plays a critical role in numerous body functions.

The recommended amount of water a dog should drink is approximately 1 oz per pound of body weight per day. This amount varies based on several factors, such as a dog’s breed, size, age, activity level, overall health, diet, and the climate where they live.

Water plays a critical role in:

  • Lubricating and cushioning joints

  • Cushioning internal organs

  • Protecting the spinal cord

  • Assisting in digestion

  • Regulating body temperature

  • Assisting in the absorption of nutrients

  • Transporting oxygen to cells

  • Eliminating waste through sweat, urination, and poop

If a dog’s thirst suddenly increases, it can signify an underlying medical condition, such as a hormonal, kidney, or liver disorder.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Needs More Water?


There are some simple ways to determine whether your dog needs fluids. 

 If your canine companion shows the following signals, they may be dehydrated:

  • Panting when they haven’t been exerting themselves

  • Lacking energy

  • Acting lethargic or less active than usual

  • Having a dry nose

Other signs your dog may need fluids include:

  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes

  • Dry, sticky, or blue-colored gums

  • Thick saliva

  • Loss of appetite


How Can I Check If My Dog is Dehydrated?


If your dog loses more fluid than they are taking in, they are at risk of dehydration. When your dog is dehydrated, they aren’t just losing water. They also lose essential electrolytes that help them maintain healthy blood flow and oxygen levels. 

There are some easy ways to check if your dog is dehydrated. First, you can test the elasticity of your pup’s skin. Do this by lifting the skin flap on your dog’s back between the shoulder blades. When you let go of the skin, it should naturally fall back into place right away. If the skin does not return to its normal position, your dog may be dehydrated. 

Another easy check you can do at home involves checking their gums for capillary refill time. Simply press a finger against your dog’s gums until they turn white, then remove your finger. Ideally, when you remove your finger, the gums should regain their usual color within 2 seconds. In a dehydrated dog, it takes much longer for their gums to regain their color.


What To Do If Your Dog Won't Drink Water


Potential reasons why a dog may drink less water include pain, illness, old age, and anxiety. Under-drinking puts dogs at risk of dehydration, which may need medical intervention.

Check your dog's hydration status if your dog won't drink water or is drinking less water than usual. Create a tent with the skin behind your dog's shoulders, then let go of the tent. If the skin stays tented, your dog is probably dehydrated. If the tent goes down quickly, your dog is adequately hydrated.

Other signs of dehydration include pale and sticky gums, dry nose and mouth, and sunken eyeballs. If your dog is dehydrated, take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.

In addition to treating the underlying cause of your dog's under-drinking, you can entice your dog to drink more water. For example, add flavor to the water with a bit of low-sodium chicken broth. Some dogs even like munching on ice cubes. Water fountains are also a good option for dogs that need extra encouragement to drink more water.

Try using a raised water bowl holder for older dogs. Arthritis in the neck may stop some dogs from drinking as much as they should. Make sure you have multiple water bowls available and that they are easily accessible (so your dog doesn't have to go up or down stairs to drink).

What Does It Mean If Your Dog Starts Drinking More Water Than Normal?

Your dog may be drinking a lot of water for normal reasons, such as playing outside on a hot day or actively nursing newborn puppies.

However, health conditions, such as Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism), kidney disease, and diabetes can make dogs feel extra thirsty and drink more water than usual. Note that diabetes insipidus is a medical condition that causes dogs to drink excessive amounts of water. This is a different condition from the more common diabetes mellitus (which may also increase thirst).

The medical term for excessive water drinking is polydipsia. Polydipsia often leads to excessive peeing (called polyuria). You'll know if your dog drinks more water than usual if you have to fill up your dog's water bowl more often.

Overhydration is a serious medical concern and can cause vomiting (from drinking water too quickly), lethargy, and bloating. Drinking too much can also upset your dog's electrolyte balance. Don't let your dog drink a large amount while playing with a hose or if swimming and retrieving. Take breaks.

Your veterinarian will perform some tests to determine why your dog is drinking so much water, then develop a treatment plan to get your dog's drinking habits back to normal.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog is drinking more and has the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Increased need to urinate

  • Urinating much larger amounts

  • Signs of dehydration, especially after being in the heat

Can Your Dog Drink Too Much Water?

Yes, your dog can drink too much water. The result can be water poisoning, also known as water intoxication or hyperhydration. However, it’s not common for this to happen.

When your dog ingests too much water, it can throw off the balance in their sodium levels and cause cells to swell. This causes issues with body function. Advanced water intoxication can lead to brain damage, coma, seizures, or even death.

Signs of water intoxication may include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Lethargy

  • Swollen abdomen

According to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, water intoxication occurs more often in the summer months, when people bring their dogs to the beach or pool. Dogs that love the water may accidentally swallow large amounts while playing in the surf. 

If you think your dog has water intoxication, bring them to the vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital immediately.

Proper hydration is essential to a dog's overall health and well-being. If your dog's drinking habits seem a bit off, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to figure out why and what you can do to restore your dog's normal water intake.

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