Looking after an animal is a great responsibility as they’re dependent on us for their every need. We tend to assume that as long as we provide our dogs with a water bowl they will drink the amount they need, but unfortunately this is not always true as some dogs are under-hydrated, while others drink too much and are over-hydrated.
Water’s Vital Role in the Body
Water is the basis of life as it hydrates, nourishes and cleanses the body. While your dog can survive for a long time without food, incorrect water consumption can be seriously damaging to the body, and in a relatively short period of time just a 10 percent drop in hydration can be fatal.
From mental alertness and ease of breathing, to optimum digestion and bowel movements, every metabolic process in a dog’s body will be affected by their level of hydration
Blood flow takes oxygen around the body and removes toxins, and poor hydration can lead to a buildup of toxins in the muscles and organs, causing a huge array of health issues. Dogs regulate their heat by panting, and this heavy breath causes a lot of moisture to leave the body, very quickly on a hot day when they’ve been exercising.
Lack of water can result in dehydration, organ failure, and kidney stones or other urinary tract problems, but apart from these direct health issues, lack of water consumption can be an indicator of existing problems.
Water Consumption Can Be a Health Indicator
Dogs who are not drinking enough water or who have an insatiable thirst could be displaying signs of more serious health problems, which is why it’s essential to keep a close eye on their drinking habits.
Dogs with illnesses such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and leptospirois (as well as many others) do not tend to drink much water, so if you notice that your dog is barely drinking anything, it may be worth taking them for a check up. On the flip side, dogs with bladder infections, diabetes and Cushing’s disease (among others), are often extremely thirsty and can be observed drinking excessive amounts of water.
While it’s important to watch out for how much your dog is drinking, it’s also important to keep things in perspective with their other behaviors, temperature conditions and so on, so that you don’t become overly worried every time your dog has a big drink of water!
So How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?
A dog’s water needs vary from breed to breed, and also depending on size, age, diet, activity level and environmental conditions.
The recommended intake of water for a dog is approximately one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight, per day.
Your dog’s diet will play a big role in the amount of water that they need to consume, as dogs eating solely dry biscuits will be getting significantly less hydration from their food than those on moisture rich diets.
During the hot weather, if your dog is very thirsty after a long walk or play session, it’s a good idea to let them rehydrate over a period of time rather than letting them guzzle down too much water at once. If they finish all the water in their bowl, wait for half an hour before refilling it so that they have time to rest and digest. You can also help keep them hydrated during their exercise time by giving them access to water, little and often is best.
To test whether your dog may be dehydrated, you can lift the skin on the back of the neck and watch to see how quickly it returns to its normal position. If it forms a sort of tent, and doesn’t fall back into place immediately, then your dog may be dehydrated.
Nobody knows your dog better than you, and by keeping a close eye on your dog’s behaviour you can tell if they are happy and healthy, or if they’re showing signs of dehydration or illness. Monitoring their water intake should be a part of your behavior observation as it can tell you a lot about their health and wellness.