Importance of Proper Hydration for a Dog

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Having a fit and healthy dog requires a combination of regular exercise and proper feeding of appropriate foods. Most readers of are well aware of this. There is another aspect to ensuring a fit and healthy dog that does not get as much attention as diet and exercise: proper hydration.


Like it is with people, a dog’s body is made up mostly of water (around 80%). Without water, a dog will not live long and with too much or too little water, the dog will suffer as well.
proper hydration


How Water Helps a Dog’s Body

Dogs need adequate amounts of water each day so that their body can perform key functions. Some of the key ways water is used by the body include:

  • Ensure that blood is able to transport and deliver nutrients where and when they are needed in the body.
  • Help flush toxins out of the body.
  • Regulate body temperature.
  • Keep muscles and ligaments pliable.


Although most dogs will instinctively know just how much water they need, some dogs don’t drink enough water, while others drink too much. If a dog doesn’t drink enough water, they can become at risk for urinary tract issues like kidney stones, and organ failure. Conversely, drinking too much water can be toxic.


Signs that a Dog is Drinking Too Little or Too Much Water

There are two simple checks that can be used to determine if your dog is under-hydrating. First, lift a pinch of skin at the back of the neck and let it go. The skin should quickly return to its normal location. A dehydrated dog’s skin will take longer to fall back into place and might create a tent like pattern as it falls back. A second check is to examine a dog’s gums, which should be moist and slick. Gums that are sticky or otherwise appear dry mean that the dog is not getting enough water.


Some dogs will drink too much water which can also be unhealthy. Some of the signs of over-hydration include lethargy, bloating, loss of coordination, vomiting, glazed eyes, and a light gum color.


Why it’s Important to Monitor a Dog’s Water Consumption

A dog’s hydration habits can be an indicator of good health but can also point to potential underlying illness. Under-hydrating can be a sign that something is wrong internally. Pancreatitis and parvovirus are two diseases that will tend to result in a dog drinking too little water. Conversely, diabetes, bladder infections, or Cushing’s disease, can lead to an increase in thirst. If you notice a change in your pet’s hydration habits, it is prudent to have them checked out by your veterinarian.


Next week, I will provide hydration guidelines as well as some tips to ensure that your dog is well hydrated.


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  1. Great post! I always make sure my dogs have water and I actually add some to their food!
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Keep Your Dog Warm this Winter with a Summit Parka from Hurtta! Review & GIveaway!My Profile

  2. Mom is a big water drinker and she always wants us dogs to drink a lot too. Bailie and I drink a lot, but Katie has never been much for drinking water. Now that she doesn’t move around as well she has cut back even more, so Mom has started bringing the water bowl to her a few times a day to make sure she is drinking. Many worry about it only in the summer, but here in the winter with all the dry air it is almost more important to hydrate. We have a fountain for the kitties too. People and pets need hydration!
    Emma recently posted…Emma’s Top 10 Howliday Gift Suggestions For Fit DogsMy Profile

  3. great post! So important to know how much your dog drinks so when it drinks more it tips you off that there is a problem. Also don’t let your dog drink and drink and drink as that messes up the chemical balances inside and causes all kinds of problems too.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Preacher ZoomiesMy Profile

  4. Hi Y’all!

    My Humans teach all their dogs to drink on command, even if it’s only one slurp.

    I always have plenty of fresh water.

    Like Emma noted, so many humans don’t think about hydration in the winter, but no matter where you live it’s important to keep drinking. Dry skin, chapped lips are signs of moisture loss in humans. It’s a sign to be sure your pawed friend is getting enough water.

    Don’t forget the Pedialyte, especially for senior or young pups. My Humans always give me Pedialyte when we travel.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Changes Comin’My Profile

  5. Penny also makes sure the floor stays well hydrated. No matter how high the water in the bowl, she’ll find a way to splash half out while drinking.

  6. Excellent, informative and important post.
    Earl Lover recently posted…Flying Without WingsMy Profile

  7. Bentley and Pierre drink a good amount of water. Bentley will drink like a camel sometimes during the summer months.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Party’s OverMy Profile

  8. My dogs have learned to push their water dish across the floor toward me if it gets empty. I respond quickly.
    jan recently posted…Piff the Magic Dragon and Mr. Piffles—a very different dog actMy Profile

  9. Drinking too much water was the first sign Harley had Diabetes and Shasta had Cushing’s, both well managed since we were able to catch it early. I’m a Nurse Practitioner and noticed early on asking our vet, “in humans these symptoms mean xyz, what does that mean in a dog”. Turns out they mean the same thing…. I also didn’t know that skin turgor (pinching of the skin sign) was a sign of dehydration in dogs as well… Thank you for such a great post about a simple thing that can mean so much!
    Denise Gruzensky recently posted…Snapshot Sundays 11.22.2015My Profile

  10. I can always tell how much water Sam is getting by all the dribble drops all over the floor. I swear that is the messiest Standard Poodle I’ve ever seen when it comes to eating and drinking! Sheesh. 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Happy ThanksgivingMy Profile

  11. We always know where the water is if we go on long hikes. I have a collapsible bowl. Cocoa loves her water. She used to choose water over food!!
    Julie recently posted…Week in reviewMy Profile

  12. Our R is obsessive-compulsive, and his main obsession is drinking water. No bowl of water lasts for more than 30 seconds in his presence. So, we have to make sure that Shyla gets enough to drink. We do it by adding a lot of water to her food.

    The hard part with R is that we won’t know if he has any of those diseases that result in over-drinking because he always drinks too much!!!
    KB recently posted…Desert SunsetsMy Profile

  13. Something many of us don’t pay attention to – water intake. When it’s very hot outside or when we’ve been getting “fit” in the backyard, or coming from a walk. I take my water bottle into their eating and drinking area. Why? Because Velcro & Super Glue follow me everywhere! While I stand there and drink my water, these two try to mimic me and drink theirs. It works!

  14. Great information! Rocco’s a good water drinker so I haven’t had to worry much. Great reminder to watch if their behavior changes regarding water consumption.
    Diane recently posted…Walking With Dogs on The 606, Bloomingdale TrailMy Profile

  15. Such an important topic – I’m a water snob and make sure to drink 2-3 liters of purified water every day, and the same goes for the pups. Well, not that much, of course, but they always have fresh, clean, purified water available. That goes for our home, the yard, as well as car rides and hikes. We have two collapsible water dishes that come along on our outings 🙂
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Comment on Unboxing Our Latest Shipment of 42 lb of Raw Dog Food From RawPaws Pet Food by K9sOverCoffeeMy Profile

  16. One of my girls will not drink plain water. She’ll take a sip, and I mean sip, when she’s very thirsty, but that’s it. If I present a bowl of fresh water to her, she’ll sniff it and turn away. So I provide her with enhanced water, which I sometimes refer to as “a refreshing beverage.” I’ll flavor her water with broth that I’ve saved from boiling meat to prepare as treats; a smear of peanut butter in the bowl; a bit of mashed banana (she loves the combo peanut butter/banana); goat’s milk yogurt; an egg yolk; baby food pureed veggies or fruit; canned spinach (no salt added) with any of the fore-mentioned items; dehydrated peanut butter, goat’s milk, or broth; or a number of other things. I try to mix it up. I feed raw and I still add water to her food. She had one UTI when she was young and it has been my goal for her to never have a second one.

  17. Now that we’re full time boaters we think about hydration a lot. When you spend 6-8 hours in the sun (even when it’s cold), it’s easy to get dehydrated. And a sign of dehydration in humans in irritability, a dangerous symptom when you share your 250 sf home with another person and a dog.

    We pass water around the cockpit regularly, for Honey and us. And even if we think we’re not thirsty, we at least try to drink something.
    Pamela recently posted…Don’t Be A Jerk When Someone’s Pet DiesMy Profile

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