Proper hydration is extremely important for your dog's health and well-being. Dehydration can occur quickly in dogs and lead to serious medical complications if left untreated. Knowing how to keep your dog well-hydrated is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. In this comprehensive article, we will discuss the signs of dehydration in dogs and provide tips on how to ensure your dog is getting enough fluids every day.
The Importance Of Hydration
Water makes up between 70-80% of an adult dog's body weight. It is needed for essentially every bodily function. Water carries nutrients through the bloodstream, removes waste from the body, regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, and maintains blood pressure and volume. When a dog becomes dehydrated, all of these important processes are impaired. Severe dehydration can lead to electrolyte imbalances, organ failure, seizures, and even death. That's why maintaining proper hydration is so vital for your dog's health. Keeping water readily available and encouraging drinking should be top priorities for pet owners.
How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to your dog's water needs. The amount can vary based on factors like size, age, activity level, and diet. As a general rule, the average healthy adult dog needs between 1-2 ounces of water per pound of body weight per day. So, a 50-pound dog would need around 50-100 ounces or 6-12 cups of water daily. Pregnant or nursing dogs, puppies and dogs who eat dry kibble or are very energetic typically need more. The best way to make sure that your dog is sufficiently hydrated is to deliver continuous access to clean, fresh water. Allow your dog to drink anytime when he is thirsty.
Signs Of Dehydration
Being aware of the signs of dehydration in dogs is important so you can take action quickly when needed. Symptoms may include:
- Dry or sticky gums
- Sunken eyes
- Lethargy, weakness
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Rapid heart rate
- Dry nose
- Loss of appetite
- Dark yellow urine
- Collapse in severe cases
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, check their hydration status immediately. Pinch the skin at the back of their neck – if it stays tented instead of snapping back, they are likely dehydrated. Call your veterinarian, as treatment with intravenous or subcutaneous fluids may be needed. Address mild dehydration by encouraging drinking and avoiding excessive exercise in heat.
Tips For Keeping Your Dog Hydrated
Here are some tips for keeping your furry friend well-hydrated:
- Provide fresh, clean water at all times – Refill water bowls frequently and wash bowls regularly. Dogs won't drink stale or dirty water.
- Bring water on walks – Especially on hot days. Allow dogs to drink from pet-friendly water fountains when possible.
- Add water to their kibble – Adding some water can make dry food more appealing. This also provides extra fluid.
- Offer wet dog food – Canned food has a high-water content and can supplement their intake.
- Try bone broth dog ice pops – An easy homemade treat that hydrates.
- Train them to drink from a bottle – Useful for hiking, travel, etc. where regular bowls aren't practical.
- Avoid excessive exercise when hot – Dogs pant to cool down, which leads to water loss.
- Watch for triggers like flying or stress – These can inadvertently lead to dehydration.
- Provide fresh water during travel – Bring disposable bowls and bottled water for car rides, flights, etc.
- Monitor outdoor dogs closely – Working dogs and dogs kept primarily outdoors need vigilant hydration monitoring.
- Ask your vet about foods and treats with high moisture content – Certain foods can provide supplementary hydration.
- Know the signs of dehydration – Catch issues early and consult your vet when concerned.
Water Additives And Flavorings
Plain water is perfectly fine for most dogs. However, some pet owners find adding flavors, broths or electrolytes entices picky dogs to drink more. If your dog turns their nose up at regular water, try:
- Low-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
- A splash of tuna juice or canned fish brine
- Coconut water
- Pureed fruit like strawberries or watermelon
- Dog-safe flavored electrolyte water
- Ice cubes made with bone broth or dog-safe broth
- Dental water additives to help with tooth health
Avoid syrups or artificial sweeteners. Check with your vet before adding supplements, as improper use could lead to overhydration. Patience and positive reinforcement are best for training stubborn dogs to drink plain water.
When To Contact Your Veterinarian
Schedule a check-up if your dog seems perpetually thirsty or experiences recurring bouts of dehydration. Certain medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperadrenocorticism can increase thirst and urination. Senior dogs also tend to drink more. Have your vet run tests to identify any underlying issues. Monitoring your dog's water intake and body weight at home can provide helpful clues as well. Contact your vet promptly if you notice potential signs of dehydration along with lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or other concerning symptoms. Together you can determine if IV fluids or other treatment is advisable.