Many dog owners leave water out for their dogs all the time with the thought that their dogs will drink as much, or as little, as they need. But do you know how much they are actually consuming? And how much do they need to remain healthy?
It’s no wonder dogs require more water per day than any other nutrient, since 70 to 80 percent of an adult dog’s lean body mass is comprised of water. It helps lubricate and cushion joints, making movement easier. Water also helps remove toxins from the body, helping to flush kidneys and liver, which can keep your dog healthy and even reduce pain. It helps regulate body temperature. This is even more important in the summer months.
A rule of thumb is dogs require one ounce of water per one pound of body weight. Most animals have an instinctual drive to consume enough water to
meet their daily requirements, but it is important to regulate your dog’s water intake. Over or under drinking can cause health problems. Too little water can lead to dehydration, kidney stones, organ failure and even death. Drinking too much water can lead to stomach bloat, electrolyte imbalances, and hyponatremia (water toxicity). Take notice if your dog is under or over drinking, it may be a sign of an underlying illness. Under drinking can indicate parvovirus, leptospirosis or pancreatitis. Over drinking can signify a bladder infection, another type of infection or diabetes. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog is drinking abnormally.
To look for dehydration in dogs, grab a piece of skin at the back of your dog’s neck. Stretch it out, then let it go. A properly hydrated dog’s skin will snap quickly back into place, while the skin of a dehydrated dog will return slowly and form a “tent” in the process. You can also check your dog’s gums for dehydration. Wet, slippery gums are healthy. Dull, sticky gums suggest dehydration. Dogs who over-hydrate will often vomit, act confused or become lethargic.
Here are some ways to get your Over Drinker to consume less water:
- Limit Refills: You can still leave water out in a bowl for your dog but you need to ration it during the day. Maybe only fill the bowl half or a quarter of the way each time. This means increased refills throughout the day so they have steady access to water, but a reduced amount.
- Automate It: The problem with most automatic water dispensers is they fill up whenever the water gets low so you can’t control the amount. One option is to use an automatic feeder instead, the kind that opens separate compartments at specified times.
- Crate: For more control at night or when no one is home, try crating your dog with a rabbit water feeder (like this one). That way they still have access to water but can only drink little bits at a time.
Here are some ways to get your Under Drinker to consume more water:
- Behavior Modification: Whenever your dog goes to get a drink, praise him and give him a treat.
- Strategic Placement: Keep water near his bed, near his food and anywhere he normally plants himself. And don’t forget, any time you and your dog are engaging in an outdoor activity, have fresh water available. You can even fill a bowl, freeze it and then when you bring it out it will be cold, melt slowly and refresh your pup.
- Up the Flavor: Adding flavor to your dog’s water is one of the easiest ways to get your dog to drink more water. An easy way to do this is to add a flavored broth to your dog’s water.
- Freezing Treats: Dogs crave interactive activities and a simple change in how you give toys and treats to your dogs can go a long way toward enriching his life. Try freezing your dog’s favorite toy or treat inside a bowl of water. It’s a fun way to encourage them to drink by licking the ice to access the toy or treat. You can also fill your dog’s favorite rubber toy, like a Kong, with broth and freeze it as a way to encourage extra drinking. Just plug any holes with peanut butter prior to filling.
- Wading pools: These are so much fun for dogs to romp in, all while drinking clean water. When your dog swims in a pool, river, or, ocean you’ll notice they drink a lot of the water. They are often drinking dangerous chemicals like chlorine, acids, and more which can be dangerous. Even a dog who may not like deep bodies of water might enjoy a wading pool as a way to cool off.
Try one of these tips and let us know how it worked out in the comments!
Passionately Pets has been a trusted pet care provider in Northern Virginia since 2007. We proudly provide dog walking, pet sitting and overnight services for dogs, cats and other companion animals in Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale and Falls Church. Visit our website, www.passionatelypets.com, to request a consultation or more information. For more pet filled content, follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook @passionatelypets.