We all know the guidelines for water consumption. 8 glasses a day, minimum and social media trends and increased information have made it easier for people to stay hydrated. But what about our dogs?

Hydration is paramount in ensuring the health and well-being of dogs, much like it is for humans. Water constitutes around 60-70% of an adult dog’s body weight, playing a vital role in various bodily functions. It aids in the digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, regulation of body temperature, and elimination of waste products.

Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining the health of a dog’s kidneys and liver, which are responsible for filtering out toxins from the body. A lack of sufficient water can lead to dehydration, adversely affecting these organs and potentially causing serious health issues.

Hydration Needs Based on Size, Activity, Diet, and Environment

  1. Size and Weight: The amount of water a dog needs varies significantly with its size and weight. A general guideline is that a dog should drink approximately 30 ml of water per pound of body weight each day. For instance, a 10-pound dog would need about 300 ml of water daily, whereas a 50-pound dog would require around 1500 ml of water which is why large dog breeds like Labradors need significant water supply.
  2. Activity Level: Active dogs or those engaged in rigorous activities need more water. Exercise increases body temperature and water loss through panting and sweating (through the pads of their feet), necessitating higher water intake to stay hydrated.
  3. Diet: Dogs on a dry food diet (kibble) will require more water than those on a wet food diet, as wet food can contain up to 80% water. Therefore, the water intake from their diet should be considered when calculating the total daily water needs.
  4. Environmental Factors: Hot or humid weather conditions can lead to increased water loss through panting, requiring more frequent water replenishment. Similarly, dogs living in colder climates might not drink as much but still need to maintain hydration.

Encouraging Hydration and Measuring Intake

  1. Fresh Water Availability: Ensure that your dog has constant access to clean, fresh water. Regularly change the water in their bowl to keep it appealing.
  2. Multiple Water Stations: Place water bowls in several locations around your home to encourage drinking, especially for homes with multiple floors or large areas.
  3. Flavoured Water: For dogs less inclined to drink enough water, consider adding flavours to the water, such as a small amount of chicken or beef broth, to make it more enticing. Ensure that these are low in sodium and onion-free, as onions are toxic to dogs.
  4. Water Intake Measurement: To monitor your dog’s water intake, measure the amount of water you put in their bowl and check how much is left after 24 hours to get an idea of their consumption. This is especially important in extreme weather conditions or if your dog has health issues.

Health Implications of Dehydration and Overhydration


Dehydration Symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Dry gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased skin elasticity (Skin doesn’t snap back quickly when pinched)
  • Excessive panting

If dehydration is suspected, provide your dog with small amounts of water to drink gradually and consult a veterinarian if symptoms persist.

Overhydration Symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diluted urine or excessive urination

Over-hydration can be just as dangerous as dehydration, leading to an imbalance in electrolytes, and should be addressed by a veterinarian.


Hydration plays a crucial role in a dog’s overall health, affecting their energy levels, organ function, and ability to regulate body temperature. By following the guidelines based on size, activity level, diet, and environmental factors, pet owners can ensure their dogs stay adequately hydrated.

Recognizing the signs of dehydration and overhydration is critical, as both can have serious health implications. Implementing practical tips to encourage hydration and accurately measuring water intake can help maintain the well-being of your furry friend. As a pet owner, taking proactive steps to monitor and encourage proper hydration will contribute significantly to the health and happiness of your dog.