Dog Hydration: How Much Water Should My Active Dog Drink?

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by jtclough on June 6, 2010

The summer months have arrived and with it warm weather.  It is the perfect time of year to get out and get actively moving with your dog.  With heat being a factor hydration and how much water should your dog drink are questions that many dog owners usually only make a guess at.

How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?

Making it simple helps with doing the right thing.  So find out what your dog weighs and figure 1/2-1 oz of water per pound.  My Weimaraner is 65 pounds.  That means she should have 36-65 oz of water per day.

That is the simple formula.  Of course activity and weather can make a difference so common sense needs to be taken on a situational basis.  In other words, the low end of 36 oz is not sufficient if I have taken my dog out on an hour plus trail hike in warm weather conditions.  Make sure to get 65 oz and if you notice your dog has done what looks like some extra exertion don’t be afraid to add a little more water intake.

Checking for Proper Dog Hydration

Dogs aren’t able to say they are thirsty and the situation can get overlooked by an owner not realizing you have to not only lead your dog to water, but in many cases you need to show your dog to drink it as well.

You can check for proper hydration in  your dog by:

Checking for a dry nose.

If your dog’s nose is dry it’s past the time that water should have been taken in.  Time to lead your dog to water, and encourage the action of drinking it.

A dry nose is not the only sign of a dehydrated dog.  Keep in mind your dog can have a wet nose and still be dehydrated or on the verge of really needing to drink.

Elastic skin.

Skin loses elasticity as it loses moisture.  There’s a good reason to stay hydrated yourself as well.  Skin without moisture will remain wrinkled.  Ewww… maybe a little water drinking could save a whole lot of dog owner botox treatments!

Check the back of your dog’s neck by pinching the skin between two fingers.  When you let it go if the skin goes back to laying flat your dog is hydrated.  If the skin remains squished or wrinkled your dog needs to get some water intake going as soon as possible.

Checking the gum tissue.

One can get technical about this or one can think about it in easy terms.  If you run your finger over your dog’s gums, if it feels a bit slimy, you have a hydrated dog.  If the gum tissue isn’t slimy, your dog needs to drink and is on the dehydrated side of life.

The technical way to check is by using a method to check for capillary refill time.  To do this when your dog is hydrated pull the lip up and press your finger firmly against the gums until the tissue appears white-ish in color.  See how long it takes for the gum tissue to fill to pink again.

Now you have a baseline to see if your dog is dehydrated in times of activity.  If when you remove your finger the tissue looks to fill in a gray color or takes a long time to refill to pink, your dog is dehydrated.

So there you go, you can choose to use the slimy method or the capillary refilling method.  Either will help you determine how much water your dog needs.

How To Get Your Dog To Drink

It is true that sometimes you can lead a dog to water and yet they won’t drink it even if they need it.  You can make this a habit by enticing them to do it… which is a fun way to say:  Train your dog to drink.

Tricks are the best way to train dogs and ourselves to do anything.  After all, if it’s fun you’ll do it, and so will your dog.

Use a treat to entice your dog’s nose to the water bowl, drop the treat in the bowl and as your dog takes a little water in while going for the treat, put the word “drink” to it.

Done enough times it will become a habit and you can fade the treat by offering it sometimes and not having it others.  With repetition your dog will automatically start to drink.  When you say the word pairing the action so many times together in the moment your dog is in the act of actually drinking, you will illicit the response by just saying the word with repetitions of practice.

If your dog likes ice cubes you can do the same trick using ice cubes and the drop it in the bowl trick requiring your dog to drink to get it.

Another quick fix for some dogs is to add a little beef bouillon to the water mixture.  Lab type dogs can’t help themselves.  They’ll drink in the hopes of food!

Project Happiness:  Get Out and Move with Your Dog

If you found this article to be a good one, please retweet it with the green button above.  And please leave a comment if you have cool ways you get your dog to drink, or you have a question about hydration and your dog.

And by all means if you’d like to start your own Project Happiness Life with Dog as Training Partner sign up for the Healthy Living Wag Report and get updates on cool dog news, dog friendly events, and how to integrate your own health and fitness routine with your dog as your best training partner.

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1 Julia M Lindsey June 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

I take my miniature dachshund on daily walks. It has been very humid lately and he seems to be getting overheated. We usually walk for about an hour but I have been limiting the walks to 30 min. Should I avoid walking him in the heat or is it ok as long as he gets hydrated when we get home.
.-= Julia M Lindsey´s last blog ..Writing Can Heal Your Soul =-.

2 jtclough June 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Adaptation is an amazing things and dogs tend to do it better than people… possibly due to the fact that complaining isn’t part of the curriculum of their learned behavior! 🙂

Keep exercising with your dog. It’s important. Just take precautions that allow safe adaptation. Shortening the amount of time is a good idea. You could also take a 30 minute walk in the morning and one in the evening to get the same hour of activity in 🙂

Evaporation is a cooling system for dogs so getting your dachshund wet before you go out or during your walk is a helpful tip. Hydration is important and to help with staying active in humidity try to make sure your dog is hydrated throughout the day, not just right after coming home from exercise.

Keep on moving… I’m sure you and your dog are wagging more because of it!

3 Karen @ Blazing Minds June 13, 2010 at 2:10 am

When I take my two Poodles for a walk I always carry water with me, so that they can have a drink when I stop to sit down with them.

Never had a problem with them not drinking as they always have a big bowl of water in the kitchen for them.
.-= Karen @ Blazing Minds´s last blog ..Anhedonia by Recluse [Music Review] =-.

4 pat January 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Our GSD “jimmy” loves ice, so we started putting ice in his water bowl w/ the “drink” command. Times when we are outside in the TX heat & we know he won’t leave a game of fetching the ball. We just turn on the garden hose w/ the nozzle set at jet. He will try to get the water and be drinking too.

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