Liquid water is the most fundamental element for the existence of life on the planet. More often than not, people concentrate on the optimum amount of water that they should consume in order to remain healthy while paying little attention to the water requirements of their pets, particularly dogs. Dogs, like all living things, need the right amount of water to keep in good health, in which case it’s worth having a little think about how much you provide them.
Here’s why water is the number one most crucial ingredient in any animal’s body, because it moisturises the air within the lungs to help them breathe, assists in the regulation of body temperature keeping the organs and brain from overheating, transports nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream to every cell in the body, lubricates and protects joints and internal organs, while also assisting in the elimination of waste from the body and protecting the function of the nervous system.
Depending on activity level and climate, a healthy dog should consume 60 to 100mL of water per kilogram of body weight each day. In this case, a 20kg dog should consume 1.2 to 2L of fluid every day while a 10kg dog should be between 600mL and 1000mL.
Of course, the true consumption of water that a dog should consume could vary subject to other factors. For instance, a dog that is very active, lactating or that lives in hot areas may drink more water compared to other dogs. Similarly, puppies tend to consume more water compared to adult dogs, while dogs that consume wet foods would also be likely to drink less water compared to those that eat dry kibble. Also noteworthy is the fact that some medications will require modification of the amount of water that a dog consumes. In essence, it is advisable to check with the vet to determine the amount of water that your pooch should consume while taking medication.
It is important that you be on the lookout for over-hydration and dehydration. In determining whether your dog is dehydrated, one trick is to grab a piece of the dog’s skin at the back of its neck and stretch it before letting it go. If the dog is properly hydrated, its skin will quickly snap back into place, unlike the case of a dehydrated dog whose skin will slowly return and form a tent while going back to place. Alternatively, you may check the gums of the dog to determine its hydration. Properly hydrated and healthy dogs will have wet and slippery gums, while dehydrated dogs will have dry and sticky gums. On hot days be aware of their behaviour, if they’re not themselves try helping them cool off and making sure plenty of water and a cool place to shelter is available to them. At the other end of the spectrum, over-hydrated dogs may frequently vomit, become lethargic and act confused.
Should you notice that your dog is an under-drinker, there are a few strategies you could use to increase water consumption. You might consider giving them a treat once they consume water in order to train them. You can also ensure that water is placed close to their food, bed and any other places that the dog normally dwells. In addition, you might consider adding flavour packets such as veggie stock to make it more tempting to the dog but beware of excess salt consumption. One hot tip for summer days is to leave out a second water dish containing ice which will defrost throughout the day giving pooch a cool treat they can lick at!
In the case of excessive over-drinkers, you could introduce “lick” bottles to limit the amount of water intake. On the same note, consider rationing water during the day to get the dog used to smaller portions of water. You may also consider using automatic feeders that would open separate compartments at different times.
At the end of the day, make sure plenty of water is available and most dogs will take care of the rest, try the tips above on your over drinkers or under drinkers. See a vet if you’re worried about your animals level of water consumption and hydration so they can correctly investigate any root causes.