Our Grenada vets explain how long dogs can go without drinking water, emphasizing that dogs, like humans, require water to maintain practical bodily functions but naturally lose water through sweating and urination. Therefore, ensuring your dog always has access to a freshwater supply is crucial.

Why is Water Important For Dogs?

Water stands as one of the most underrated nutrients for dogs. Unlike food ingredients, which provide energy, vitamins, and other compounds supporting your dog's health, water often escapes notice due to its supportive rather than functional nutrition. This indicates that water doesn't directly supply nutrients; however, it plays a vital role in aiding the digestion, absorption, movement, and excretion of nutrients throughout your dog's body. Here are a few bodily processes of your dog that rely on water to function correctly. y.

  • Digestion - Water is involved in all parts of digestion. Water in your dog's body helps produce saliva, stomach acids, and bile and plays a role in every stage of digestion.
  • Cell Health - Water is one of the core components of a cell. Without sufficient water in your dog's body, the cell cycle will be hindered, especially cell growth and division.
  • Detoxifying - Water in your dog's system helps to flush out toxins from the bloodstream and during digestion. Harmful toxins and excess water-soluble nutrients will be filtered through the kidneys and excreted in urine by the water in your dog's body.
  • Temperature - Dogs typically don't mind warm weather, but summer's extreme heat and humidity can lead to a dog quickly overheating. Proper hydration is vital to your dog's natural ability to regulate their body temperature.

How much water does a dog need?

Water makes up more than 70% of your dog's body by weight, so your dog needs to maintain this water content by consuming plenty of water every day.

A good guideline for dogs is about an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. So, a 25 lbs. dog needs about 25 oz. of water (or 3 cups), while a 75 lbs. dog needs almost 2 litres of water every day.

There is an exception to this rule. Puppies being weaned and transitioning to solid food need to drink around half a cup of water every other hour or so to replace the milk they're not getting and keep themselves hydrated.

Once your puppy is weaned, they will need more water, ultimately requiring as much water as a fully-grown dog.

Is my dog dehydrated?

Cases of extreme dehydration in dogs are typically associated with illness or overheating, but a consistent state of mild dehydration can have risks, too. It's helpful to identify signs of dehydration in dogs so that you can take action.

  • Dry Nose
  • Dry, Tacky Gums and Pasty Saliva
  • Low Skin Elasticity
  • Dark Yellow Pee, or Very Little Pee
  • Low Energy Level and/or Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sunken, Dry Eyes

If you notice your dog is displaying these signs, contact your vet immediately to discuss the need for urgent veterinary care or to receive guidance about safely rehydrating your dog at home.

How can I tell if my dog is Dehydrated?

Some signs of dehydration may not be as visible as others, so you can confirm whether your dog is dehydrated by conducting simple tests. First, check the elasticity of your pet's skin by following these steps:

  1. Gently hold a pinch of your pet's skin close to its shoulder blades. 
  2. Lift the skin up, then release it gently.
  3. Observe your pet's skin as it returns to its position. If your dog is well-hydrated, the skin will quickly stretch back into place. If your dog is dehydrated, it'll take longer for the skin to return back to place.

You can also check if your dog is dehydrated by examining its gums. To perform this test, gently press your pet's gums with your finger. If your dog is adequately hydrated, the area will turn white and quickly return to pink. Dogs that lack hydration will have a slower capillary refill.

How long can my dog safely go without water?

Typically, your dog can survive without drinking water for about 72 hours (three days). However, it'll show signs of dehydration after the first 24 hours. While this is generally considered the case, every dog is different, and several variables at play can affect the time frame.

  • Age - Adult dogs require more water per day than puppies, enabling them to go much longer without water than adult dogs. Dehydration can exacerbate health issues in elderly dogs.
  • Health - If your canine companion has health issues, it's important to ensure they drink water daily, as dehydration in dogs affects every organ in the body, intensifying any illness. Also, a pregnant dog must drink plenty of water daily.
  • Weather - If you live in a mild climate, your dog will be fine without water for longer than that same dog living in a hot, dry, or humid environment. More heat means more panting, which means more water loss.
  • Breed - Breeds with big, thick coats, more active breeds, and breeds that drool a lot may require increased daily water intake to counteract normal water loss. The greater the amount of water your dog expends through daily activities and habits, the greater the need for replenishment.
  • Lifestyle - If your dog is a lazy house-pup, they may be able to endure a longer time period without water than a more active dog would. Generally speaking, the more active your dog is, the more frequently they will need water.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog drinking enough water? If you are concerned that your dog might be dehydrated, contact our Grenada vets immediately for urgent care.