Water plays a critical role in your pup’s overall health and wellbeing. It helps them regulate their body temperature, aids in their digestion, helps their body absorb nutrients, and moves waste and toxins through their body. In short, water keeps their body functioning normally.
Your dog’s water intake throughout the day can be a good indicator of their overall health, so it’s important that you keep an eye on how much they drink. Freshpet vet, Dr. Aziza, shares some of the top reasons why you should watch your dog’s water intake and what to do if you notice it seems off.
A dog that is drinking more water than usual can mean many things, not all of which are reasons for concern. Your dog’s level of thirst can change due to activity, diet, or more seriously, medical issues like diabetes or urinary tract infection. If you suddenly notice a big increase in the amount of water your dog is drinking, bring your dog to your veterinarian for further evaluation to determine the cause of this increased drinking.
Dogs who have a high moisture content diet tend to not drink as much water as dogs that eat dry kibble. Canned or fresh diets, like the Freshpet Select Chunky Beef recipe, can have a moisture content as high as 70% or more. This elevated moisture helps to meet a dog’s daily moisture requirements, decreasing the need to drink a lot of water.
A second reason could be that the water is not appetizing. Some dogs prefer fresh water, so if water is not replaced regularly you may see them seem interested or even sniff the water and then walk away. If you notice this happening, try replacing the water with fresh water throughout the day or get a water dispenser that does it for you. You can even add something like chicken broth to flavor the water to encourage them to drink.
A third and more serious reason is that the dog could be in pain or discomfort and drinking water makes them feel worse.
When veterinarians determine a dog’s daily water intake we calculate the maintenance level. This is the minimum amount of water needed to healthily support the body and not become dehydrated. This per-day maintenance level is calculated by multiplying 60mL by the number of kilograms of body weight. In other words, for every 10 pounds of body weight, a dog should be receiving a little more than 1 cup of water or 9 ounces. Remember this is the minimum amount – it’s fine if your dog drinks more than the maintenance level.
If a dog is panting it can mean several things. After intense physical activity, like running, a dog will pant to help cool off. Similarly, if the temperature is high, then dogs will pant to lower their body temperature. Panting can also be your dog’s way of displaying their feelings of stress or anxiety. If you notice your dog panting for an extended length of time for no apparent environmental reason, this could mean they are in pain and need to be examined by a vet.
Your dog should naturally drink more water when they are in areas with a higher temperature or in warmer seasons. They should also drink more water after times of robust activity like going for a walk or playtime. If your dog is eating dry kibble, you should also expect them to drink more water every day.
Some dogs simply love water and have a hard time restraining themselves when they drink. These dogs tend to drink water too fast, which can lead to vomiting – similar to dogs who eat too much too quickly. If this is the case for your dog, it’s recommended to limit the amount of water that is available at a time or use a different type of water dispenser that prevents them from engulfing water too quickly.
A great way to increase your dog’s water intake is by feeding them fresh foods that already contain high amounts of moisture. Fruits, vegetables, and boiled chicken are great sources of moisture and can be used as a healthy treat or supplement to their regular meals. If you’re looking for a complete recipe that will help increase your dog’s daily water intake, try Freshpet Vital Fresh Cuts Shredded Chicken or Fresh From the Kitchen Chicken Recipes. They both have high levels of moisture, which decreases the need to find ways to convince them to physically drink more water throughout the day.
If it seems as though your dog lives at the water bowl or it feels like you’re refilling their bowl several times throughout the day, then your dog may be drinking too much water. If this is new behavior and nothing in your dog’s schedule or lifestyle has changed, then the constant thirst could indicate there is a medical problem. In this case, it’s recommended that you contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.
I notice that by the end of the day there are often bits of food or dirt floating around in water bowls, which doesn’t look very appetizing. Knowing this, I recommend replacing a dog’s water bowl with fresh water at least once a day. You may have to refill the bowl even more if your dog has the tendency to spill a lot of water or knock their bowl around quite a bit.
We hope that Dr. Aziza was able to answer some of your most pressing questions about your dog’s water intake. Have a question that wasn’t answered? Schedule an appointment with your vet – they’ll be happy to discuss how you can help your dog improve their daily water intake.