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As any dog owner knows, one of the most important things to keep an eye on is whether or not your dog is getting enough hydration. After all, they can't tell us when they're thirsty! However, the answer to this common conundrum is not so simple. In fact, whether or not your dog is getting enough hydration depends completely on the dog in question. 

Factors such as age, activity level, and even diet can all play a role in how much water a dog needs on a daily basis. For example, young puppies and elderly dogs are more prone to dehydration than adult dogs, and dogs who exercise heavily will also require more water than those who are sedentary. Similarly, dogs who eat a lot of dry food will need to drink more water than those who eat wet food or raw diets.

Let’s look more closely at how much your dog should be drinking.

How much should my dog be drinking?

When it comes to how much water your dog should drink, the answer is not a one-size-fits-all. It really depends on a multitude of factors, such as how active and how large your specific pup is. An incredibly active dog will require more water than one that mostly lounges around, and a larger dog will need more than a smaller one. 

It's important to note that these water requirements can vary from day to day depending on how far you may walk or exercise with your pup and even how hot the ambient temperature is. To help make an accurate estimate of how much water your specific four-legged family member needs, consider consulting an online calculator that takes into account size and activity levels before providing you with rough guidelines on how much H2O they'll need. Keep in mind however, that this estimate may still differ from actual requirements due to individual differences between pups. 

Ultimately, it's best to have an idea of how much water your dog likes to drink in order to assess whether they are getting the hydration they need—so be sure to keep an eye on them to build up your knowledge of their usual intake!

My dog has started drinking a lot less water:

A lazy, sleepy pug

  • Lower levels of exercise than usual

It can be concerning when our canine companions suddenly begin drinking less water than usual. If your pup has started spending more time lounging around rather than running around, chances are its thirst levels have dropped. It isn't uncommon for dogs to become less active with age or due to medical conditions, and this could explain the drop in thirst you've noticed of late too. 

Exercise helps to keep your pup healthy both mentally and physically, so if you're seeing a drop in their activity levels it's worth considering why that might be. Start by talking to your vet if you have any concerns. They'll be able to provide advice and guidance into how best to keep your pup happy and hydrated moving forward.  Alternatively, if the change in activity levels is due to old age, just enjoy the extra cuddle time!

  • Different water

Many pet owners have likely been surprised when their dog refuses to drink from one bowl of water as it had from another. It may seem silly, but a change in the taste or even the temperature of the water can drastically shift how much your four-legged friend drinks. 

Dogs seek out hydration through cues from their environment, including how much moisture is in food or how pleasant the source of the water tastes. Therefore, understanding how taste buds work on a canine level can be paramount for keeping them healthy and hydrated.

  • Dirty Water Bowl/Water not fresh

This feeds into the previous point. If your dog’s water bowl is dirty or the water in it is old and stale, they will likely turn their nose up at it - and with good reason! A dog’s natural instincts drive them to drink only from clean water sources to avoid illness in the wild. Ensuring your dog’s water source is fresh and clean can help increase their desire to drink.

  • Tooth Pain

Just as humans experience changes in their teeth as they age, so too do our canine companions. As your dog moves into its senior years, it is possible for its enamel to wear away, leaving their teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity to hot or cold substances, such as when they drink cold water. 

In order to keep your dog's mouth healthy, it is important to provide them with proper dental care. Regular brushing and routine vet visits are essential for the prevention of periodontal disease and other oral health issues & to avoid dehydration as a result of dental pain.

My dog has started drinking a lot more water:

An energetic Jack Russell Terrier with a tennis ball in its mouth

  • Increased physical activity

As a counter to the point above, if your four-legged best friend is spending more time running, jumping and playing then they may begin to show an increase in their thirst levels. That’s because more physical activity leads to a greater loss of body fluids. Your dog needs to replenish these lost fluids by drinking more water – how much depends on how physically active they are!

  • A change in diet

It's important to pay close attention to the composition of your dog’s food if any changes are made, as changes in their diet could lead them to becoming more thirsty. A switch to a drier food is likely to require a greater level of hydration. Dogs can get most of their fluids through food and so any switch that lowers how much moisture they are taking in will demand they drink more. If a change has been made, monitoring how much water your furry friend has every day is essential, especially if they consume kibble as dietary fibre content can lead to increased thirst as it takes more water for digestion.

  • Medical issues

It is possible that your dog may have developed a medical condition that is causing it to drink more water. It is important not to jump to conclusions about potential medical conditions your dog may have and you should always seek proper diagnosis from a veterinary practitioner before seeking any treatment for any perceived problem.

Medical conditions that can lead to an increased water intake include: Urinary Tract Infections, Liver Disease, Kidney Disease & Diabetes. If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering medically, it is imperative you seek the advice of your vet immediately.

How can I tell if my dog is dehydrated?

Thirsty dog drinks from a person's hand

There are some simple checks you can do to see if your dog is potentially dehydrated

  • Check their gums - if they’re dry, sticky or pale in colour this can be a sign of dehydration.
  • Their eyes can appear sunken and dry.

You can also perform a simple test. Pinch & lightly pull up the skin between their shoulder blades. If the skin returns to its normal position quickly when released then they are hydrated - if the skin takes longer to return to its natural position then it is possible your dog is dehydrated.

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