Hydration Guide: How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water?

Unfortunately, many situations might lead you to ask, “how long can a dog go without drinking water?” Whether your dogsitting plans fell through or your way home is blocked by a snowstorm, feeding and watering your dog can become impossible — and knowing how long you have to reach your dog becomes crucial.

Generally, an adult dog can survive around 2 to 3 days without drinking water. This can vary depending on their size, diet, and hydration level. Smaller dogs don’t tend to have as much water and nutrients stored up in their body to survive, so you can generally assume they have less time. However, it may make a difference if your dog drinks a lot of water and eats wet dog food. It’s important to note that your dog will suffer from dehydration as soon as 24 hours have passed. For this reason, you should never plan to let your dog go without drinking water.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

Dogs can last between 2 to 3 days without water consumption. After this safe time range, your dog will be at risk of severe injury or death, so it’s essential to get home as soon as possible. If you have a puppy or a small dog, or if your dog is in hot temperatures, you may have even less time to spare. While a puppy does not drink water, a newborn puppy should never go more than two hours without drinking their mother’s milk. 

Fresh clean water is a need for every living being to survive, so even moderate dehydration can have severe consequences. It’s important to note that you should never intentionally allow your dog to go without water for days. When an emergency prevents you from reaching and taking care of your dog, knowing how much time you have to reach them is crucial. But if you have access to your dog, they should always have access to a water bowl with fresh water. Denying dog water is inhumane and stresses their bodies significantly, eventually leading to premature disease and death.

How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?

how much water should my dog drink

As a rule of thumb, you should expect your dog to drink around an ounce of water per day for each pound of body weight. However, there’s no good reason to measure your dog’s water intake unless you’re worried they’re not drinking enough. In general, you should provide an unlimited amount of water to your dog.

The Most Common Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs

Here are some of the most common symptoms that result from an empty water bowl:

Stiff skin. A well-hydrated dog’s skin should be elastic, stretching when pulled and returning to its original position when released. If your dog’s skin holds a pinched shape, your dog is probably dehydrated.

Lethargy. If your dog seems weak, depressed, and exhausted, it may result from dehydration. Without the right amount of water in their system, their blood can’t effectively circulate. 

Sunken eyes. One of the most apparent signs of canine dehydration is sunken eyes. You should see if your dog’s eyes are lower in their eye sockets than usual.

Dry mouth and nose. Your dog’s mouth and nose should always be moist. If your dog’s mouth is dry or they have a dry nose, they are likely suffering from severe dehydration.

Panting. If your dog seems to keep panting without catching their breath, it may result from dehydration. Dogs pant to maintain their ideal temperature, just like people sweat. If they don’t have enough water in their system, their bodies will struggle to stay cool

Dry and sticky gums. Xerostomia is a condition that refers to a lack of moisture in your dog’s gums due to dehydration. Your dog’s gums will be dry and sticky and have thick, almost paste-like saliva.

How To Rehydrate Your Dog

If your dog’s dehydration only seems mild, you can offer chicken broth or electrolyte drinks in their water bowl to help them recover. You can provide drinks like Pedialyte in small doses to help your dog recover, but the electrolyte balance isn’t made for dogs and can cause issues when given in excess. You can also make a homemade electrolyte solution by mixing one teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of honey into a quart of boiling water. If your dog isn’t interested in drinking or vomits up the water, however, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. 

how to rehydrate your dog

Should I Take My Dehydrated Dog to the Vet?

While mild cases of dog dehydration can be treated at home, dehydration can quickly reach critical levels — without the proper medical intervention, even the most healthy dog can die from dehydration. If you notice severe symptoms of dehydration like a dry mouth and nose, lethargy, and vomiting, you should consider the situation an emergency and take your dog to an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Once your dog has been taken to the vet, they’ll be able to investigate any underlying or comorbid health issues while resolving your dog’s dehydration with the best treatments available. Generally, vets can give dogs IV fluids with electrolyte solutions specifically formulated for dogs. They’re also well-trained to help your dog regain their appetite and energy, ensuring your dog is back to health in no time.

The Bottom Line: A Dog Should Never Go Without Water

Although there may be several reasons why a dog owner may research how long a dog should go without water, a dog should always have access to a water bowl of fresh water. It’s essential to prevent dehydration in your dog to avoid unnecessary health consequences and keep your furry friend happy and comfortable!

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