Lifestyle & Grooming

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink Per Day?

Dog running with water bowl in mouth

Keeping your dog hydrated is vital to their health and wellness. Water does more than quench your dog’s thirst: it helps hydrate your dog’s blood and brain, lubricate and cushion their joints, remove waste and digest food, regulate body temperature, and much more [1]. So how much water does a dog need, and how can you know that your dog is getting enough?

Calculating How Much Water Your Dog Should Drink

There are several factors that dictate how much water a dog should drink per day, including the dog’s activity level, breed size, and even what kind of food they eats. For example, wet dog food contains more water than dry dog food. One kind of food isn’t necessarily better than the other – dogs who eat dry food will just get more of their hydration from their water bowl than their food.

A general guideline is that dogs need 1 ounce of water per 1 pound of body weight [2]. So, if Charlie weighs 34 pounds, he should consume about 34 ounces of water a day.

Of course, the more active a dog is and depending on their environment (especially hot and humid environments or cold dry environments), the more water they may need each day. We recommend choosing a blend of dog food like Just Right that can be adjusted to suit your dog’s unique needs.

What Are the Signs of Dehydration in My Dog?

Here are some of the symptoms of dehydration to look for:

  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Sunken or dry looking eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Skin that doesn't snap back into shape quickly when lightly pinched (excluding breeds with excess skin...here’s looking at you, Shar-Pei)

On that last point – lightly pinching the skin of your dog’s forehead is a great way to easily evaluate and watch out for dehydration during play or exercise, especially in warm weather. (This study found that dogs’ foreheads are surprisingly very sensitive and can indicate even very mild dehydration of 1% water loss!).

The best thing to do for your dog to help prevent dehydration is to keep their water bowl filled with fresh, clean water at all times. If you feel like your dog isn’t drinking enough water, try adding a flavor enhancement (like low-sodium chicken broth) to their water. If your dog is simply thirsty, they’ll drink on their own and recover. However, if you suspect more severe dehydration (especially if your dog has been vomiting and/or having diarrhea), talk to your veterinarian immediately.

Do Dogs Get Headaches Like Me When They’re Dehydrated?

We actually don’t know if dogs get headaches or not, though it’s definitely possible. Sometimes dogs experience symptoms of headaches like sensitivity to light and noise, wanting to avoid pats on the head, sluggishness, and extra napping...but without the ability to ask how they’re feeling, it’s hard to make a definitive call.

Does Water Intake Have Anything to do with My Dog’s Stool?

Water helps with digestion, especially when it comes to breaking down soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves easily when there’s enough water, which results in well-formed, firm-but-moist stools that are easy to pass. If your dog’s stools are extremely dry and pebble-like or if they are experiencing constipation, it could be due to dehydration. (However, it’s also entirely possible that their food is extremely digestible which is not something to worry about.) For more info on factors influencing your dog’s poop, check out our article on the topic.

Water’s Role in a Complete & Balanced Diet

Water is one of the six essential nutrients your dog needs to live happy and healthy. Get the other five essential nutrients with a personalized Just Right blend that’s 100% complete and balanced...then “just add water.”