Health

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water? Understanding the Risk

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Author: Jacob Kay

Be it dogs or humans water is essential for every living being. We humans can go without water for a few days and still survive, but can our canine companion too go without water?

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

Dogs as it is tend to drink less water and you cannot even force them to drink it. In such a situation being a pet parent you might wonder how long can your dog be without water.

Here in this blog, “How long can a dog go without water?” we will try to provide you equipped information regarding a dog’s drinking behaviour and the effect of not drinking water.

Factors That Affect a Dog’s Hydration Needs

Here are the factors that affect a dog’s hydration needs:

Factors That Affect a Dog’s Hydration Needs

Size

As the size of dogs varies so does their hydration need. A large size dog requires more water than a smaller size dog. As large size dogs have high body mass and metabolic rate, they lose more water through panting.

Smaller dogs require less water as compared to the larger ones, however, they become dehydrated due to their small body and excessive panting.

Activity level

A dog’s body requires constant activity to remain fit and healthy. This physical stimulation results in excessive panting and sweating in dogs. A dog indulges in more physical activity generates more heat and thus requires more water to drink.

Constant exercise increases the dog’s blood flow and oxygen requirement which can be fulfilled by providing more water. Whereas dog not involved in any physical stimulation or activity requires less water.

Health condition

Health condition has a major impact on a dog’s water intake. Some health conditions affect a dog’s body by either increasing or decreasing the water intake.

Health conditions that affect the dog’s body by causing dehydration are fever, diabetes, diarrhoea, vomiting and kidney-related diseases[1]. However, the diseases that lead to excessive water consumption in dogs are liver and heart diseases.

Environment condition

Just like humans dogs face the effect of environmental changes and it is reflected in their drinking habits. During hot and dry weather dogs tend to pant a lot, which increases their water intake. However, during cold weather, the dog’s water intake is lessened.

At high altitudes due to lower oxygen levels and sudden changes in air pressure the water intake of dogs might increase.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration[2] is a condition in which a dog’s body loses more water unbalancing the body’s pH level. Dehydration leads to the loss of sodium chloride, electrolyte and potassium from the body. Here are some signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs:

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Panting

Though panting is normal in dogs and helps regulate their body temperature, but still can be a sign of dehydration. Excessive panting can lead to water loss through evaporation from the mouth and increased heart rate. These are the signs that your dog might be dehydrated.

Loss of skin elasticity

Dog’s skin can tell a lot about their health. To check whether the dog is dehydrated or not lift the dog’s neck skin, if the skin restores back rapidly then it means the dog is hydrated. But at the same time if the skin does not restore back quickly that means it has lost its elasticity and it is a sign of your dog being dehydrated.

Dry nose and mouth

A dog’s nose acts as an indicator of their health. A healthy dog’s nose is wet, so if a dog’s nose is dry then it indicates that the mucous membrane lost moisture and it is a sign of dehydration.

For the dog’s mouth, pink colour and moist gums are considered to be healthy. So if your dog’s gum is pale and dry it indicates dehydration in the dog.

Sunken eyes

A sunken, dry eye in dogs is a sign of dehydration in them. So if you notice any abnormality in a dog’s eyes like dry red eyes or frequent tears then it can be either due to dehydration or any other eye infection.

Lethargic

Dehydration leads to loss of water level in a dog due to which they appear to be weak, uninterested and dull. If your dog is not as playful and cheerful as always and is lethargic then it indicates dehydration.

As mentioned in petmd, "In general, dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8 of a cup) per pound of body weight each day. However, there are many factors that can affect how much your dog will drink, so you should not be restricting your dog’s water intake."

How To Prevent and Treat Dehydration in Dogs

Here are steps to prevent and treat dehydration in dogs:

  • Provide your dog access to clean water all the time.
  • Avoid your dog’s exposure to heat.
  • Avoid too much physical activity.
  • Provide your dog with moisture-rich food.
  • If your dog is severely dehydrated then try giving an electrolyte solution to him
  • If the dehydration prevails for a longer period then consult a vet immediately.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

How long can a dog go without water depends on various factors like size, health, activity level and weather conditions. It often also depends upon the breed of the dog.

Typically a dog can go without water for at least 48 to 72 hours. Though the dog can survive this long without water it does not mean that it is ok. If a dog goes without water for more than 72 hours then there are chance of it having a fatal effect on their body.

A dog’s body is heated and not drinking water will only make it more and more worse. To keep your dog healthy and hydrated make sure he drinks water frequently.

FAQs

Can a dog go 5 days without water?

No, a dog cannot go for 5 days without water. Water is a very basic requirement of a dog. Not giving the dog water for five consecutive days can make him dehydrated and lead to fatal danger. You should not keep a dog without water as it can affect the dog’s overall functioning and health.

How often do dogs need water?

The answer to this question may vary according to the dog’s breed, size, health and weight. Normally a dog needs 1 ounce of water per body weight, but again it may vary. Even if your dog is not drinking enough water make sure he does not remain dehydrated for more than 24 hours.

How do I know if my dog needs water?

To know if your dog needs water or not you have to observe their behaviour. If the dog looks lethargic, is panting severely, has sunken eyes, and is licking a wet floor then it is a sign indicating that your dog needs water.

How long can a dog go without water?

Normally, a dog can go without water for at least 48 to 72 hours but it can vary according to breed, size, health, activity level and the surroundings. Though a dog can go without water for more than 24 hours doing so can make the dog extremely dehydrated and lead to certain health complications.

Should I give my dog water all the time?

Yes, it is good to give your dog water always. Providing your dog with water on a regular basis helps protect them from dehydration. Water serves many health-related purposes for dogs and thus is beneficial for dogs. It helps regulate their body temperature and improves their digestive process.

Conclusion

Water is very important for dogs and not drinking it on a regular base can make them dehydrated. We hope that through this blog, “How long can a dog go without water?” we successfully provide you with all the required information. Dogs themselves may not know the negative outcomes of dehydration but we surely can.

If your dog is not drinking water longer than 72 hours and showing signs of dehydration then consult a vet immediately.

Reference:

  1. Chronic kidney disease and failure. (2021b, November 10). Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
  2. Hydration. (2021, July 8). Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
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About
Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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