How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?

Picture of a dog drinking water

We often hear that people should provide their dog with plenty of fresh, clean drinking water. But how do you know how much water your dog needs to drink each day? A Chihuahua and a Golden Retriever can’t drink the same amount, for obvious reasons. When should you become concerned if your dog isn’t drinking enough water? What if your dog is drinking too much water? We have the answers for you here.

How Much Water Does Your Dog Need Each Day?

We all know that water is essential for life but it may surprise you to learn that your dog is getting too little or too much water on a daily basis. This can happen even if you’re leaving fresh, clean water out for your dog to drink. For this reason, it’s important to monitor how much water your dog is drinking each day. Any change in your dog’s normal water intake can signal a change in his health.

How much water your dog needs depends on several factors:

  • Your dog’s size;
  • Your dog’s age;
  • Your dog’s activity level;
  • And the season – dogs will drink more water when it’s hot.

In general, a healthy dog needs between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. So, if your healthy dog weighs 30 pounds, he would need between 15 and 30 ounces of water in a day. If he’s very active, he might drink more. And if it’s the middle of summer, he will probably drink more on a hot day. When it’s cold in winter, he might drink less.

This is only a general range. Individuals and different breeds can be different.

If your dog has been playing hard outside or exercising strenuously – such as with agility work – use caution with letting your dog drink a lot of water. He may drink up the water in his bowl, but it’s a good idea to let him rest before you refill his bowl. Frequent short water breaks are better than one long guzzle from the water bucket.

If your dog doesn’t drink enough water it can lead to dehydration, urinary tract problems such as kidney stones, and organ failure.

If your dog drinks too much water, it can actually be toxic for him.

Water Intake and Disease

How much water your dog drinks can be an indicator of an underlying health problem. For example, dogs that have pancreatitis, parvo, or leptospirosis often drink very little water. On the other hand, if your dog has a bladder infection, another kind of infection, kidney disease, or a metabolic issue such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease, he might be extremely thirsty and drink lots of water. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to how much water your dog is drinking, especially if he is drinking more or less than normal. If you notice that his water intake has suddenly changed, have him checked by your veterinarian right away.

Is Your Dog Dehydrated?

You can check to see if your dog is dehydrated by pinching some skin at the back of his neck and releasing it. If your dog is well-hydrated, the skin will fall back into place right away. With a dog that is dehydrated, it will take longer for the skin to relax back into its normal position. You can also check your dog’s gums. If your dog is well-hydrated his gums will be moist and slick. If your dog is dehydrated, his gums may seem dry and slightly sticky.

If your dog seems dehydrated, his body needs more water.

More Moisture

If your dog isn’t drinking enough water, there are some other ways to encourage him to stay hydrated. One good way is to try feeding him a wet dog food such as canned food. Canned dog food typically contains 78-85 percent moisture compared to 10-12 percent moisture found in dry kibble. A good canned dog food will provide more moisture in your dog’s diet.

Another way to help your dog get more moisture in his diet is by adding chicken or bone broth to his water. Broth will often make water more appealing to a dog.

You can also purchase a pet water fountain to encourage your dog to drink more. Pet water fountains ensure that the water is fresh; plus the running water often makes it more appealing to a dog.

Too Much Water?

It’s less common for dogs to drink too much water but it can happen. If your dog tends to drink too much water you should supervise her, especially when she’s active. Dogs that drink too much water can become water-intoxicated. Drinking too much water can also upset the electrolyte balance in your dog’s body. The sodium levels in the dog’s blood get too low. This can happen with dogs that play in the pool or lake all day. A dog that is water-intoxicated can stagger and lose coordination, become lethargic, nauseated, bloat, vomit and show signs of shock. In severe cases the dog can collapse, lose consciousness, and die.

If your dog tends to become water-intoxicated, especially when playing in the water, you must insist that he take frequent breaks and come out of the water for rest periods. The same trouble can happen with dogs that like to be sprayed with water hoses and sprinklers so make those dogs take a break, too.


Most dogs know how much water they need to drink every day but some dogs can drink too little or too much water. It’s a good idea for you to monitor your dog’s water intake to make sure he’s drinking an adequate amount each day. If you notice any changes in how much water your dog is drinking, it could indicate a health issue. Pay attention to any signs that your dog is drinking too little or too much water and take steps to supervise him and solve the problem if necessary.



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