How much water should a puppy drink? If you have asked this question before, you are not alone. Many new puppy parents wonder how much water and food should they give to their pups. While we get a measurement guide at the back of every dog food packaging, they don’t really say how much water puppies should drink.
So How Much Water Should a Puppy Drink?
As a general rule, the amount of water that your dog should drink depends on its body weight. Growing puppies need more water than adult pups. Newborn puppies get the hydration and nourishment that they need from their mother’s milk.
Once they have started their transition from their mother’s milk to solid food, puppies need to drink water on their own to keep themselves hydrated. A puppy should drink about half a cup of water every two hours. Monitor your puppy’s water intake and make sure that he or she does not drink too much.
Puppies that have been completely weaned should drink between 0.5 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. If your puppy weighs 30 pounds, he or she should drink anywhere between 15 to 30 ounces of water per day.
How Does Water Intake Affect Puppies?
Puppy’s Body Temperature
Puppies need water to regulate their body temperatures. During hot summer days, dogs pant to help release heat, and they lose water through evaporation. Because they lose water through their tongues, they need to drink more water to keep them hydrated on high-temperature days.
Dogs and puppies need access to fresh, cool drinking water at all times during hot weather.
Water is vital to blood flow or the circulation of blood through dogs’ bodies. Not drinking water, causes the blood to thicken, making it hard for the blood to circulate and supply oxygen and nutrients to dogs’ vital organs including the brain. As dogs should always drink enough water to keep them in good health.
Drinking water aids puppies’ digestion by helping break down the food that they eat so that their bodies can absorb the nutrients. It also prevents constipation and makes puppies’ stool softer
Helps Clear Toxins
Making sure that your puppy drinks enough water every day can help her kidneys rid her body of harmful toxins. As long as your puppy gets enough water intake, her kidneys will be able to cleanse the body and flush out toxins through urine.
Not drinking water enough can make the kidneys trap extra fluid that is needed for bodily functions. This can put the dog or puppy at a higher risk of getting kidney stones, especially in warm climates.
Helps Joint Health
Water helps to keep dogs' joints lubricated and flexible. The Synovial fluid that directly lubricates joints is composed primarily of water. This fluid helps maintain healthy tissue and joints, as well as reduce the friction between joints.
Cushions The Brain and Spine
Good hydration is important in maintaining a healthy spine. Water is an essential part of lubricating and cushioning our joints. One of the components of a dog's spinal discs is called the nucleus pulposus – a soft, gelatinous substance that is predominantly composed of water.
When a dog is dehydrated, the water is lost from the spinal discs, and the cushioning effect of the nucleus pulposus is compromised. This puts a strain on the spine and can result in pain and decreased mobility.
10 Ways to Keep Dogs and Puppies Hydrated
Encourage your pups to drink more water with these helpful tips:
- Make sure that your puppy has cool and fresh water at all times
- Place multiple water bowls in different locations throughout the house as well as outdoors, especially in areas your puppy frequents. Make sure the bowls are easily accessed.
- Invest in a drinking fountain for dogs. Most dogs love drinking from running or flowing water.
- If your puppy likes to drink from a dripping faucet or a hose, let her drink.
- Adding wet dog food can add hydration to your dog’s diet. You can mix it with dry food or give just wet food for lunch or dinner. You can also give your dog broth or pour broth over her dry food.
- If your dog is not a big drinker, encourage him or her by mixing a bit of chicken or beef broth into the water.
- Train your dog to drink from a water bottle, or take a collapsible water bowl when going on walks or traveling.
- Test different water bowl types. Some dogs have preferences for what type of water bowl they will drink from. Big dogs may want to drink from raised bowls.
- Ice cubes. You can put ice cubes in their water bowls to keep them cool or you can give your dog ice cubes to lick during hot days.
- Give your puppy a reward whenever he drinks water. This can be in the form of praise, pets, or treats.
8 Factors That Affect a Dog’s Hydration Needs and Drinking Habits
Young puppies drink more than fully grown dogs despite their smaller size. The younger they are, the more hydration they require for their developing bodies.
The answer to the question “how much water should a puppy drink?” largely depends on the dog’s body weight. Large-breed puppies will require more water than smaller ones.
Older puppies that have been completely weaned and are already on solid food should drink between 0.5 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.
One of the reasons why puppies require more water per pound of body weight is their higher activity level. They have more energy than adult dogs and play significantly more throughout the day.
Active puppies get thirsty and drink more than dogs who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Extremely active dogs like working or athlete dogs require a lot more per day.
Weather/ Hot Temperatures
Your puppies will need more water to help them regulate their body temperatures during hot days. Leaving them in hot spaces without access to water can lead to dehydration and even heat stroke.
Some pet owners may restrict water access at night while potty training a puppy or after giving them the last potty break for the night. However, this is not recommended during hot weather.
Puppies who are on a diet of just dry dog food will need to drink more water compared to those who are also given wet dog food, raw dog food, or fresh-cooked food.
Certain diseases and health conditions can also affect a dog’s daily fluid intake. Conditions such as diarrhea, diabetes, cancer, fever, infection, kidney disease, liver disease, and Cushing's disease can cause excessive thirst.
Sometimes, it’s not the actual condition that makes dogs or puppies thirsty. Certain medicines can lead to excessive drinking or thirst.
Some medications that are used to treat heart disease, allergies, seizures, etc can make dogs very thirsty.
A nursing mother requires plenty of fluids and nutrients to produce enough milk for her puppies. Some dogs may not want to leave their puppies to eat or drink. This puts them at risk of dehydration, so food and water must be brought to them.
Adding wet food and beef or chicken broth to their meals can also help prevent lactating dogs from becoming dehydrated.
What is Canine Dehydration?
Canine dehydration happens when a dog loses more water than he or she is consuming. Puppies or dogs can lose water through evaporation through their paw pads, panting, breathing, urinating, defecating, and vomiting.
According to PetMD, dehydration also causes abnormalities in electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential in the transport of nutrients into cells throughout the body. Dogs also need them for muscle function and nerve activity.
Severe dehydration can cause organs to shut down, which can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening, especially to puppies.
Because of puppies' small body mass and high energy levels, they need to drink more water to stay hydrated.
Signs Your Dog or Puppy is Dehydrated
- Moving slower than usual
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken eyes
- Dry nose
- Dry, sticky gums/ pale gums
How to Test if a Puppy Is Dehydrated
Skin Tent Test
The skin tent test is done to check your puppy’s skin elasticity – a good indicator of hydration or the lack of it in dogs. Pull the scruff of your puppy’s neck gently until stretched out and then let go.
Your puppy’s loose skin should bounce back quickly and easily. If the skin takes longer to return to its normal position or remains tented for longer than a couple of seconds, the puppy may be dehydrated.
Feel your puppy’s gums if they are dry or sticky. If your puppy has tacky gums, encourage him or her to drink water.
Press your finger gently against your puppy’s gums until the area turns white. Remove your finger and observe how long before the gums return to a healthy shade of pink.
The normal capillary refill time or the time it takes for the small blood vessels called capillaries in a dog's gums to refill should be about 1.5 seconds.
If it takes more than two seconds for the gums to turn a healthy pink again, your puppy could be dehydrated.
Causes of Canine Dehydration
A dog can suffer from heatstroke when its body temperature reaches more than 105.8℉ or 41℃. This can be caused by extreme weather, prolonged sun exposure, strenuous activities, being trapped in hot, enclosed spaces, or non-stop seizure activity.
Dogs should not be left in a car or any enclosed space as heatstroke can happen within 15-20 minutes of being left in the car, especially on a hot day.
Dogs and puppies who are brachycephalic or short-muzzled such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, etc have a higher risk of getting heatstroke compared to other dogs.
That said, all dogs should not be exposed to extreme heat or kept in hot spaces with little air circulation to avoid heatstroke.
Insufficient Water Consumption
Not being able to drink enough water can cause dogs to become dehydrated. They need to have access to fresh water at all times. Cool water can help them cool down during hot days.
Make sure that your dog’s water bowls are placed in areas that are accessible. They should have bowls indoors as well as outdoors.
Diarrhea or Vomiting
Diarrhea and vomiting can make dogs lose fluids much faster than normal. This is due to the dogs expelling fluids faster than they can replace them through eating and drinking water.
If your dog’s vomiting or diarrhea is not resolved after 24 hours, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately as your dog could be severely dehydrated and may need intravenous fluids.
Dogs with chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or Cushing’s disease are prone to dehydration and are usually thirstier than other dogs. Bladder infections can also cause excessive urination. These health concerns affect how much water they drink every day.
These dogs need more hydration than healthier dogs. As such, it is recommended that they get wet dog food every day. Just like any dog, they should always have access to fresh water. Make sure their drinking bowl is always full as these dogs are always thirsty.
Common Causes of Puppy Dehydration
Puppies can be more prone to certain factors that can cause dehydration compared to adult dogs. Here are some of the most common causes of puppy dehydration:
Very young pups get worms like hookworm and roundworm from their mother through the milk. They also get these intestinal parasites from their environment. Because they are too young to get dewormed, it is more common among very puppies than adult dogs.
Puppies’ immune systems are not yet fully developed, making them more susceptible to diseases caused by internal parasites. Depending on their weight, puppies can be given flea and worming treatments at around 8 weeks of age.
If your puppy has diarrhea, this can lead to dehydration very quickly. Take your puppy to a vet immediately so that they can test for parasites like heartworm and intestinal worms like hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, Giardia, and coccidia.
Parvovirus is an intestinal virus that can cause dogs and puppies to have severe bloody diarrhea, loss of coordination, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, bloating, fever, low body temperatures (hypothermia), and/ or vomiting.
Severe diarrhea and vomiting caused by this highly contagious disease make a puppy severely dehydrated very quickly.
Vaccines can help protect puppies and dogs against this life-threatening virus. If your puppy is not yet fully vaccinated, avoid taking him or her outdoors or in public spaces.
Foreign Body Obstruction
Puppies are curious and will try to eat almost anything. Dogs love chewing, which can cause them to accidentally ingest toys, rocks, and other objects that can cause an obstruction somewhere in the gastrointestinal tract.
When an obstruction is present, the puppies won’t be able to swallow food or water, which can cause dehydration.
According to PetMD, vomiting food or water within 30 minutes of eating or drinking could be a sign that a foreign object is stuck in the gastrointestinal tract. Seek veterinary assistance right away if you suspect that your puppy has eaten something he or she shouldn’t.
Can My Puppy Drink Too Much Water?
If there is dehydration, there is such a thing as overhydration or water intoxication. This can happen when a dog drinks too much water or swallows a large amount of water when swimming.
Drinking a lot of water after exercise or strenuous activities is normal, especially for extremely active dogs. However, consistently drinking about 80 to 100mL of water per kg of body weight every day can be too much water for your pup.
Take your dog for a vet visit if you think that your pup appears to be much thirstier than normal. They are also the best person to ask how much water you should give to each specific puppy or dog.
Signs of Overhydration
- Excessive salivation
- Loss of coordination
- Dilated pupils
Every dog needs access to fresh, clean water at all times, but puppies need more water per pound of body weight compared to their fully-grown counterparts. Aside from higher water needs, puppies need extra care due to their developing bodies.
With their developing bodies comes an immune system that is also a work in progress. This is why puppy food has more calories and nutrients than adult dog food. They need nutrient-dense food and a lot of water to grow into strong and healthy adult dogs.
No matter what life stage your dog is in, water will always be an integral part of maintaining their good health and well-being. It is our job as pet parents to make sure that they always get the adequate amount that they need.
One of the best ways to keep our pups happy and healthy is to take them to the vet for regular checkups. Vets can guide us in helping puppies grow healthy, prevent certain health issues, and give recommendations on training and behavior issues among many other pet parent concerns.