Why Dogs Need to Stay Hydrated

April 15, 2018

You might think keeping your pooch on a nutritious, well-balanced diet is everything your four-legged friend needs for great overall health. However, it’s not.

High-quality food is only one part of the equation! While feeding your dog the right food is certainly a big factor in keeping him in tip-top shape, it’s also critical for dogs to drink enough water to stay hydrated and healthy.

How Water Benefits Dogs

Drinking water is a very important part of ensuring your dog’s daily nutrition requirements are met and keeping his body functioning optimally—just as it is with humans. Water has a mighty big role in helping bodies to function well each day. It helps to carry and move important nutrients into and out of the body’s cells, aids in the digestion of food, helps the body absorb nutrients and cools the body down to maintain a normal temperature, among other important jobs.

In a nutshell, every main function in your dog’s body requires a sufficient amount of water to work properly. If your dog doesn’t get enough water, he can become dehydrated. Severe dehydration can cause illness and, if not treated, lead to organ damage and even death.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Dehydrated

While most healthy dogs will drink the amount of water they need to stay hydrated each day (assuming fresh, adequate water is made available to them), dogs suffering from illnesses like kidney disease and cancer or those who are pregnant are at risk of becoming dehydrated more easily.

Below are a few ways to tell if your dog is dehydrated:

  • Gums appear dry, sticky or pale
  • Dry, sunken eyes
  • A dry nose and mouth
  • Reduced elasticity of skin (To test: Pick up a fold of loose skin over the top of the shoulder blades, pull it up gently and then release it. If the skin quickly falls back into place without any hesitation, all is ok. If, however, the skin returns slowly or stays up for a bit before slowly falling back down, dehydration is present.)

If your dog shows symptoms of dehydration and/or is not drinking water like normal, a visit to the vet is in order. Your vet can determine underlying causes such as illness and help you get your pup healthy, hydrated and happy.

Tips for Ensuring Your Dog Gets Enough Water

It’s not difficult to keep your dog hydrated. Just make sure there’s clean, clear water in your dog’s water bowl every day and always keep it filled. Also, keep it in a spot your dog can easily get to. Your dog’s food will also provide a small amount of moisture, especially if they’re fed canned food, which contains about 70-80% water.

Wondering just how much water your dog should be drinking each day? Generally, about one ounce of water per pound of body weight is recommended. Again, as with humans, your dog’s specific water intake needs will depend on factors like the temperature of the climate you live in and the amount of exercise he gets; the more water your dog loses through salivating and panting, the more water he will need to replenish his system.

Is your pup a picky eater or drinker? To encourage your dog to drink as much water as he needs to stay healthy, you can offer purified water, which has a more palatable taste and is free of unwanted impurities like chlorine, bacteria and trace metals.

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