Pet Health, Pets and Family

Everything Dogs and Water: How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water and How to Ensure it Never Happens

Golden Retrievers Drinking Water

Dogs, like pet owners themselves, may need to go without water for a period of time. Whatever the cause, whether it be because you have a sick dog that is refusing to drink, you are on a hike and find yourself without clean water, or in another emergency situation, here are the facts related to dogs and water and how much water healthy dogs need to drink to stay healthy.


Water is critical to your dog’s wellbeing and your dog’s body functions and lack of water can be one of many common reasons that dog’s experience several health issues including kidney issues, dehydration and more.

dog drinking water

lack of water can be one of many common reasons that dog’s experience several health issues

How Much Does a Healthy Dog Drink?

Clean and fresh water nourishes, cleanses and hydrates all living creatures on earth, including our furry friends.  As a good rule of thumb a healthy adult dog should drink about  8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds (55 to 110 milliliters per kilogram) per day, according to Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine in Philadelphia.


Of course, activity levels, weather, age and disease and health issues can affect the water intake needs of dogs. That is almost 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight.

A dog’s body needs water for essentially all bodily functions, similar to people so to avid health problems and distress as a result of a lack of water it is best to always have a lot of water available at the ready.

Dog Water Intake Calculator Infographic

Sometimes it is difficult to determine the amount of water dog owners need to drink let along our furry friend, use this handy dog water intake calculator to put that to rest and ensure that your dog is getting enough water. Note that a typical dog’s water bowl is about 16 ounces. In order to get your dog plenty of water it may be necessary for him to drink several bowls of water.

dog water intake infographic

How Dogs Drink Water

A dog drinks by lapping water this means they cannot create suction to drink, like humans or elephants and horses. Instead, dogs must quickly move their tongues down into the water using momentum to bring the water up and into their mouths. Dogs lap, or take up, the water with their tongues curled backward that forces the water into a column and up into their mouths. As they lap, they move their tongues very quickly to build up momentum. 

Virginia Tech researchers discovered the detail of how dogs drink water (what we all have seen a thousand times) by filming 19 dogs of different sizes and breeds as they drank water. They created different laboratory models to measure tongue motion, and the amounts of water taken in.


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What Factors Affect How Much Water My Dog Needs

Many factors affect how much water your dog will drink in day including:

  • How hot the weather is;
  • Whether your dog is in good health or affected by kidney disease, bladder infection or urinary tract infection any other serious health issue or medical conditions;
  • Whether your dog is a senior dog or older dogs;
  • Your dog’s activity level;
  • The size of your dog; or
  • The food your dog consumes for instance if you give your dog wet food dog food with a high moisture content they may need less water than a dog feed dry food.
Golden Retrievers Drinking Water

Many factors affect how much water your dog will need in a day

My senior dog Zooey needs quite a bit more water and overheats a lot quicker than the other dogs in our family.  Be sure to pay attention to dogs with special needs.

How Long Can My Dog Go Without Water?

A healthy dog can go without water about 3 days, however, certain environmental factors or if your dog has any factor that could increase water needs then it could be significantly shorter time period. As you can see from our dog water intake infographic the larger a dog is the more they water they need to consume, this and many other factors including disease, age, weather and other health conditions will affect this timeframe significantly.

It is best to always offer your dog clean and plentiful water to avoid dehydration and heat stroke and keep your dog happy and healthy.

How to Ensure Your Dog is Drinking Enough Water

Dogs normally will drink plentiful amounts of fresh clean water that is available without any issue. But if you notice that your dog is showing signs of dehydration there are several ways to ensure that your dog is drinking enough clean and fresh water. A favorite at The Popular Pets is flavored water or flavored ice cubes.  These are easy to make and will cool dogs down.

Make with dog bone broth see recipe here and just put in ice cube trays in the freezer.  Flavored water is another favorite, here is our article on making flavored water with many different options of flavored water to make water more enticing and stave off dehydration.

Really to ensure your dog has enough water it is about ensuring that you plan.  Bring along a water bottle and bowl just for your furry pal so they are never left without.  Especially, when dogs are at the beach as without clean fresh water they may try salt water which could cause vomiting and further put them at risk for dehydration.

Dog Drinking

Best way to ensure dogs are drinking is to bring along a water bottle

Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration and heat stroke are both related to a lack of water. In our article about keeping your dog cool in the summer we discuss heat stroke symptoms. signs of dehydration can include:

-sunken eyes

-loss of appetite


-color of urine is darker than normal

-dry nose

-lack of appetite

–loss of skin elasticity, a healthy skin elasticity means that skin when pinched bounces back flat.

-dog’s gums are lighter in color than normal

A dog that’s dehydrated, or in need of water, may have sticky gums, or his eyes might look a little dry, adding, “It depends how fast he loses water, but as dehydration progresses, the dog may lose his skin pliability,” which is the skin’s ability to slip back into place when pinched. Adds Otto, “That’s a really concerning sign of dehydration.”


Most instances of mild dehydration can be managed by a pet owner cases themselves, by providing clean and fresh water from a clean water source or a little flavored water. If dehydration occurs as a result of other problems including vomiting or diarrhea or symptoms progress it may be necessary to get veterinary care. A vet will be able to provide fluids intravenously to ensure your pet gets them quickly and they are absorbed by their body.


As we move into summer it is important to watch for signs of dehydration and overheating in our pets. Pets that are more active, older, thicker coats that live in hot weather will be more prone to dehydration and should be monitored and offered plenty of water.

Could your dog survive in the wild?  Take our Quiz to find out!

Learn more about dogs and navigating life with your dog in Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s