Aside from an adequate and balanced diet, your dog needs to stay hydrated so they can maintain their health.
But a lot can happen if they don’t drink enough water. They can only survive safely a few hours or days before they start suffering the effects.
So how long can dogs live without water?
Find out the answer below as well as how much water dogs should drink and the signs and causes of dog dehydration.
If your dog has a reduced water intake, we can help you to find out why, and we have some tips on how to get your dog to drink more water.
How Long a Dog Can Live without Water
Dogs can survive for up to three days without water.
If they survive past that time they will likely be in very poor health.
Dogs need to drink water every day. They can go for 6 to 10 hours without water, but longer than this and it can become a problem for them.
While water is an important source of life for dogs and other animals, it is also dangerous for dogs when they stop eating.
Our furry friends are vociferous omnivores who eat both plants and animal meat.
As with reduced water intake, a dog who doesn’t enjoy eating because of sickness or a new environment is not alarming during the first day.
Beyond that, you could be leading them to irreparable damage.
Ensure your dog is well hydrated at all times because their water intake has a huge effect on their bodily processes.
One Day without Water
The first day that you notice your dog doesn’t drink, you should ensure your dog gets some immediate hydration!
Even though they can survive more than a day, it doesn’t mean that they should be subjected to it.
After a full day, they will usually have less energy. Their panting becomes heavier as well because they are trying to cool down.
Try to give them cool and fresh water in small amounts to rehydrate them.
Two Days Without Water
If they continue to refuse drinking water after two days, talk to your vet for medical intervention.
During this time, they will experience further weakness. You will also notice changes in their behavior.
Your dog is likely to feel more lethargic and has trouble moving from one place to another.
Help your dog stay calm. Limit their movement by bringing them water instead of asking them to approach their water bowl.
You also want to provide them with wet dog food instead of kibble.
You can also try soaking a washcloth to dab onto their gums.
Three Days Without Water
By the third day, your dog’s symptoms will worsen, and they may be vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.
These are clear signs of dehydration that only lead to more severe dehydration if left unchecked. They may also be in critical condition now and could require IV fluids.
Your dog may be super lethargic at this stage because they are close to organ failure or even death.
Do not let your dog go this far without receiving professional medical attention.
How Much Water Dogs Should Drink?
How much water your dog needs depends on several factors, including their activity levels, breed, age, and size.
However, in general, dogs need to drink about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. 1 ounce is equivalent to ⅛ of a cup.
For example, German Shepherds can reach up to 90 pounds. That means they need 90 ounces of water per day 11 and ¼ cups of water per day.
That doesn’t mean you should limit their water intake to only that much.
And besides, it’s usually unnecessary to measure exactly how much water they drink. If they drink plenty of clean and fresh water daily, they are good.
90 ounces seem like a lot, but this should be spread over 24 hours.
Why Your Dog Isn’t Drinking
Our dogs are super smart because they can control their water intake. They drink when they need to, and they stop when they’ve had enough.
But if you notice your dog has stopped drinking you should find out why. Here are some possible reasons.
Disease or Illness
Some illnesses or diseases affect a dog’s desire for water.
Some diseases that cause this include diabetes, kidney disease, or a simple urinary tract infection.
If you think that your dog isn’t drinking water because they’re sick, take them to the vet immediately.
Diseases caused by aging may also result in your dog not wanting to drink anymore. Getting water requires a lot of physical effort for them, so they would rather lay in bed.
Despite this, senior dogs need sufficient hydration levels. If they don’t like drinking water anymore, try giving them moist food.
Lack of Exercise
Even puppies need to be taken for walks. If they are getting less exercise than usual, then there is no reason to be thirsty.
This is no cause for alarm, especially if they drink less water because it’s too cold to go outside for exercise.
You can always try indoor games with your dog to keep them active and maybe get them to drink more water.
Fear and other negative experiences can also cause a dog to stop drinking water.
They sometimes associate their negative experiences of drinking from a water bowl with their fear of drinking water.
For example, you accidentally stepped on their paws while they were sitting down to drink.
Help your dog overcome their fear by with positive reinforcement training.
Your dog may not be drinking enough water because they don’t feel comfortable in their environment.
They also become suspicious of unfamiliar sources of water. Remember that they have a strong sense of smell, so they know if their water is different.
Causes of Dog Dehydration
Dehydration is usually caused by your dog quitting their water intake due to sickness, fear, or an unfamiliar water source.
But it’s not the only cause of dehydration. Some dogs get dehydrated because of overheating and perspiration.
They also get dehydrated because they do not drink enough water after exercising.
Dehydration may also be caused by vomiting or diarrhea. When dogs puke or poop too much, they lose fluids easily.
Signs of a Dehydrated Dog
Dehydration in dogs is a common, but life-threatening condition.
They begin mildly but usually end up with a severe illness that leads to vomiting and diarrhea. The most common symptom is loss of skin elasticity.
However mild the symptoms are, it’s always important to provide immediate hydration.
Here are some of the symptoms of dehydration in dogs:
- changes in mental awareness
- dark urine
- dry mouth, nose, and gums
- lack of appetite
- loss of skin elasticity
- rapid weight loss
- sunken eyes
- white gums.
Dogs naturally have moist noses, but a dry nose does not necessarily indicate dehydration. It only becomes an indicator when combined with other signs.
The same goes with your pup’s gums. These are naturally moist, so if you notice that they are dry and tacky, it’s time to get them to drink more water.
However, dry mouth is common among dogs who often sleep with their mouth open.
You also want to make sure that your dog’s pee is always light yellow.
How to Check for Dog Dehydration
While there are many signs of dehydration you can look for, here are three simple steps to see if your dog is dehydrated.
- Pinch your dog’s skin gently between their shoulder blades.
- Gently pull it up then release it.
- Check if the skin falls back into place.
- If it does not return right away, then they are dehydrated.
As mentioned, your dog’s skin elasticity can indicate whether they are dehydrated. If you tug on your dog’s skin, it should go back into place after a few minutes.
Aside from the skin test, you can also check for dog dehydration by pressing a finger to your dog’s gums until they turn white.
When released, their gums should go back to pink right away. If it takes longer, then they are dehydrated.
At the vet clinic, the diagnosis of dehydration is done through physical examinations, getting blood samples, urinalysis, x-rays, CT scans, and fluid samples.
How to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water
The best treatment for dog dehydration is prevention. But if your dog intentionally refuses to drink water, then there are still ways you can help them.
Here are some ways to get your dog to drink more water and avoid getting dehydrated.
Let Your Dog Pee When They Need to
If your dog is always left inside the house, especially when they are home alone, then this could be why they are not drinking water.
They learn that they feel their bladder to be uncomfortably full every time they drink water.
Let your dog out to pee every few hours so they can drink more water. If you leave them alone in the house, teach them to use a puppy pad!
Exercise Your Dog
Dogs need to get tired so they can become thirsty. A brisk walk in the park is enough.
Exercise does a lot for your dog’s social skills, fitness, and overall health and well-being. It also helps in avoiding bad behavior because it keeps them mentally stimulated.
Train your dog to walk on a leash at a young age so you can make walks a daily part of your routine.
Make sure to bring along water and offer it to them every ten minutes or so.
It allows for easy one-handed operation. Just press the button to dispense the water then release to stop.
Change Their Water Frequently
Make sure your dog has access to clean and fresh water all the time.
Do this by emptying their water bowl and rinsing out any dirt or food. Wipe it clean before refilling it with fresh water.
A dirty bowl of water can lead to urinary tract infections.
If it is too cold, you may want to consider warming up their water. If it’s summertime, try making their water a little cooler.
Some even add ice cubes on hot days. Do this while your pup is watching to get them interested and curious.
Change the water every time you notice something floating on it or when it has gotten too cold or warm.
Make Their Water More Interesting
Try waving a toy over your dog’s bowl so they can investigate it and try drinking again. You can also drop some small treats or dog-friendly fruits to make their water yummier.
Consult Your Veterinarian
If your dog is showing more severe signs of dehydration, visit the vet as soon as possible.
They might recommend giving your dog a saline IV or fluid injections to restore their fluids.
This is the most efficient method to rehydrate your dog. This will be done in the clinic gradually because taking the fluid in too quickly can lead to adverse results.
They will also suggest laboratory tests to diagnose the reason for your dog’s dehydration and solve the root problem.
Recovery from dehydration has a positive prognosis if it is treated as early as possible.
This is why we recommend offering them lots of water and taking them to the vet right away when symptoms of dehydration occur.
Can Dogs Drink Tap Water?
Some dog owners offer their dogs tap water. Is this okay?
Yes. In most cases, tap water is safe for people, so it’s also safe for dogs.
But if you live in a place with unsafe tap water, you might want to provide them with mineral or distilled water instead.
Talk to your veterinarian about the options you have for giving them filtered water.
Excessive Drinking in Dogs
If you notice the opposite in your dog, then it’s also a potential problem.
It’s not necessarily the excessive drinking that’s the problem, but the reason.
If you notice your dog drinking more than usual, it’s important to talk to your vet about it.
They will conduct a thorough physical examination along with a few laboratory tests to diagnose the issue. They can find out what is causing your dog to get thirsty so quickly.
Despite this, you must continue giving them water. Just keep measuring how many additional cups or ounces they drink.
You do want to prevent them from drinking too much all at once when they have just exercised.
FAQ Dog Diets
When Can Puppies Eat Dry Food Without Water?
Ideally, puppies should be fully weaned from their mother at 8 weeks old.
To transition to puppies eating dry food without water, you want them to try eating dry food at around one month.
Gradually remove the water added to their dry food until they can eat plain dry kibble.
Do not reduce the water content from their food too much because they might lose interest in eating dog food.
How Long Can a Dog Live Without Food?
Compared to living without water, dogs can live a little longer without food.
Some say they can last 3 days, while others say they can even survive for a month. It depends on your dog’s overall health.
If you have a dog who suddenly stopped eating, help them eat again so they continue living a happy and healthy life.
What is the Best Water Additive for Dogs?
The best water additives for dogs are those that contain essential nutrients.
But new additives can also help address their dental needs. It can be difficult to get our furry friends to brush their teeth!
A good dental additive is one that can kill the bacteria in your dog’s mouth, removes bad breath, and prevents plaque buildup.
Of course, it also must be affordable!
Check out our top dog dental water additives so you can make drinking more enjoyable and beneficial for your dog!
A Hydrated Dog is a Happy Dog
Much like humans, our dogs need adequate water intake. So, make sure they have access to clean, freshwater all the time.
Watch out for signs of dehydration when they start drinking less. These include less skin elasticity, lethargy, sunken eyes, and dark urine.
If your dog hasn’t drunk water in a day, it’s best to consult your vet. It can be a sign of a more severe medical condition or aging.
Many aging dogs start to lose appetite too. They eat and drink less, so make sure to help your senior dog get their appetite back.