Is there anything more frustrating than when your dog won’t drink water on a hot day?
They’ve been out for a walk, they’re panting and you know they must be thirsty. But when you point them towards their water bowl, they turn up their nose at it and stroll off.
Going to extreme lengths
We know one person who goes to exceptional lengths to encourage his friend’s poodle to drink. He turns on the drinking fountain in the park, then sticks his thumb in the water so it sprays out towards the poodle, who joyfully catches the droplets as they fall.
Quite possibly, the poodle is more focused on the game and the attention than actually drinking the water. In her eyes, it’s probably a bonus that she’s being hydrated at the same time.
But we can’t all spend our time going around sticking our thumbs in water fountains just to make sure our furry friends are getting enough water to drink. So how can we encourage them to drink enough? And how much do they need to drink in the first place?
How much water does your dog need?
One study that we found says that dogs need to drink between 20-70ml of water per kilo of their body weight every day. Elsewhere, we’ve seen people mention giving a dog between 50-100ml of water per kilo per day. If you were to look at a figure of 50ml of water per kilo, somewhere in between these two estimates, that would mean that a 30kg Labrador would need 1.5 litres of water a day.
A small breed like a Chihuahua would need less water, while a huge dog such as a Newfoundland would need more.
When your dog needs more water
Dogs need more water than usual if:
- They’re eating dry food, rather than wet food (check the label / ask your vet for guidance)
- They’re lactating
- The weather is particularly hot and they risk developing heatstroke
- The weather is particularly cold, as there’s less humidity in the atmosphere so it’s easier for your dog to become dehydrated
- They’ve been going for a lot of exercise.
Of course, the needs will vary according to the individual dog. What’s important is to make sure that your dog always has access to a good supply of fresh drinking water.
The secret of a good slurp
Does your dog make a mess when they drink their water? Sunny Jung, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, has investigated why dogs can’t help sploshing and splashing water all over the place when they drink.
She says it’s because dogs can’t seal their cheeks completely, so they can’t suck up water in the same way that humans do. Instead, they “smash their tongues” onto the surface of the water to create columns of water that then feed up into their mouths.
So we can’t blame dogs for splashing water all around their bowls. It’s all down to their biology.
Why does your dog need water?
Just like humans, around 60% of your dog’s body is made up of water. And just like us, water helps to keep them healthy, by supporting the digestive process, helping the kidneys to flush toxins out of the body, and promoting blood circulation.
Water is an essential part of your dog’s diet and if they don’t get enough, it can quickly cause them problems.
How to spot dehydration in dogs
If your dog doesn’t drink enough water to keep them properly hydrated, they can develop canine dehydration. Have a look at our blog to see the signs of dehydration in dogs and what to do if your dog is suffering from dehydration.
Your dog won’t be able to tell you if they’re thirsty, so do pay special attention to any signs of lethargy or other unusual behaviour on hot summer days.
How to get your dog to drink
Some dogs will naturally drink enough, left to their own devices. However, if your hound needs a little encouragement to drink more water, here are a few tips.
- Put out a few water bowls around the house. Make sure that your pooch has easy access to water whenever they need it by putting water bowls in their favourite places – such as the kitchen, outside in the garden and near their bed.
- Give them wet food / add water to their food. This is an easy way to increase the amount of water that your dog takes in each day.
- Offer them meat-flavoured water. It doesn’t sound very appetising to humans, but this could tempt a picky dog to drink. Try adding some low-sodium bone broth or gravy to their water.
- Provide a dog drinking fountain. Dog water fountains have in-built filters to remove nasty smells and tastes, offer constant running water, and also give your pooch a chance to play in the spray.
- Take water on walks. When you’re on the go, make sure you always have a supply of fresh water for your dog by carrying a dog water bottle or a collapsible water bowl and bottled water with you.
If in doubt…
If your dog hasn’t drunk any water for 24 hours, take them to the vet. And if you think they might be dehydrated, get them checked out by your vet as soon as you spot the tell-tale signs.