Did you know that your dog’s body is about 60% water? Since water is one of the largest “ingredients” that make up an animal’s body, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that keeping your dog hydrated is going to be vital to his health and wellness. H₂O does more than quench your dog’s thirst: Water helps hydrate your dog’s blood and brain, lubricate and cushion his joints, remove waste and digest food, regulate body temperature, and much more. 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 he eats. For example, wet dog food is 70-75% water compared to dry dog food’s 8-12% water content. 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. No problem!
A general guideline is that dogs need 1.2mL of water per 1 Calorie of food per day. Here’s the math for Lexi, based on her daily recommended calories:
1311 Calories * 1.2mL = 1573mL of water
(a little more than two 25oz / 750mL water bottles)
Of course, the more active a dog is and depending on his environment (especially hot and humid environments or cold dry environments), the more water he may need each day. We recommend choosing a blend of dog food like Just Right by Purina that changes as your dog does, and updating it seasonally so you always have up-to-date food and water recommendations.
How many daily calories does your dog need? Create a blend to get your dog’s custom feeding instructions based on his nutritional needs & lifestyle.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Dehydrated?
Here are some of the symptoms of dehydration to look for:
- Dry, sticky gums
- Excessive panting
- Sunken or dry looking eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Skin that doesn't snap back into shape quickly when lightly pinched
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 his water bowl filled with fresh, clean water at all times, and use some flavor enhancement (like low-sodium chicken broth) if you feel like he’s not drinking enough water. If he’s simply thirsty, he’ll drink on his 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 Poop?
We do know this one, of course! 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 he’s experiencing constipation, one reason could be because he’s dehydrated. (However, it’s also entirely possible that his food is extremely digestible, which is not something to worry about. For more info on factors influencing your dog’s poop, check out What’s Your Dog’s Poop Telling You? Part 1 and Part 2.)
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 with a personalized diet that’s 100% complete and balanced...then “just add water.”