A dog drinking water out of a bowl.

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink a Day?

How much water should a dog drink exactly? The answer depends on a few factors like his size, what he eats, his age, exercise, the weather and any medications he takes. Here’s what you need to know.
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Many dog owners leave water out for their dogs all the time with the thought that their dogs will drink as much, or as little, as they need. But how much water should a dog drink? Monitoring your dog’s water intake can improve his health, prevent illness and more. While some dogs naturally do this on their own, some either under-drink or over-drink. Too little water can lead to dehydration in dogs, kidney stones, organ failure and even death. Drinking too much water can lead to stomach bloat, electrolyte imbalances, and Hyponatremia (water toxicity).

Also, keep in mind that if your dog is under-drinking or over-drinking, it could be a sign of an underlying illness. Under-drinking can indicate parvo, leptospirosis or pancreatitis. Over-drinking can signify a bladder infection, another type of infection or diabetes. Have your vet check your dog if he’s doing either.

A closeup of a dog drinking water.
How much water should a dog drink? It depends on several factors. Photography ©Chalabala | Thinkstock.

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink? Some Optimal Drinking Guidelines

How much water should a dog drink daily? How much and how carefully you have to monitor him depends on several factors:

  • Size: On the average, a healthy dog drinks about 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
  • Food: A healthy diet is as important as water and the type of food your dog eats affects his water intake. Dogs that eat only dry food will need a little more water than those that eat canned. Also, avoid ingredients that can artificially increase your dog’s thirst such as sodium.
  • Age: Puppies need about a 1/2 cup every two hours and need to be closely monitored. Senior dogs tend to naturally monitor themselves.
  • Exercise: Bring water along on any exercise excursion with your dog. The bottles that have the drop down cup work well. After exercise, give your dog ice cubes to start and then just a little water at a time to prevent bloat.
  • Weather: Summer means more panting which means an increase in water intake.
  • Medications: Check with your vet to see if you need to decrease or increase your dog’s water intake while taking a medication.

Checking for Dehydration in Dogs and Over-hydration in Dogs

When answering the question, “how much water should a dog drink,” we must also discuss dehydration and over-hydration. To look for dehydration in dogs, grab a piece of skin at the back of your dog’s neck. Stretch it out, then let it go. A properly hydrated dog’s skin will snap quickly back into place, while the skin of a dehydrated dog will return slowly and form a “tent” in the process. You can also check your dog’s gums for dehydration — wet, slippery gums are healthy. Dull, sticky gums suggest dehydration.

Dogs who over-hydrate will often vomit, act confused or become lethargic.

Insuring Proper Hydration for Your Dog

Now that we’ve answered the question, “how much water should a dog drink,” let’s talk about how to manage under-drinkers and over-drinkers. There are a few ways to manage these pooches:

Under-Drinkers

  • Behavior Modification: Whenever your dog goes to get a drink, praise him and give him a treat.
  • Strategic Placement: Keep water near his bed, near his food and anywhere he normally plants himself.
  • Up the Flavor: There are flavor packets such as chicken, bacon and beef that you can add to your dog’s water to make it more tempting.
  • Break Out the Broth: If your dog is refusing to drink water, offer him some chicken or beef broth. Gradually add plain water into the mixture.

Over-Drinkers

  • Let Them Lick: “Lick” bottles, like the ones used for horses, can limit how much water your dog takes in. Also, you can monitor the amount they are drinking easily.
  • Free Refills: You can still leave water out in a bowl for your dog but you need to ration it during the day. This means several refills so someone needs to be home to oblige.
  • Automate It: The problem with most automatic water dispensers is they fill up whenever the water gets low so you can’t control the amount. One option is to use an automatic feeder instead, the kind that opens separate compartments at specified times.
  • What’s Up Doc: For nighttime control, try using a rabbit water feeder in your dog’s crate.

Clean Water For Your Dog

To help insure that the water supply for both humans and canines is protected, you can do one simple action — clean up after your dog. And by providing a healthy diet and the right amount of clean water to your pooch, you can prevent illness and promote health. For as Mark Twain says, “Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.”

Worried that you’re not getting enough water? Don’t know why drinking water is important? Check out 6 reasons to stay hydrated >>

Top Photography ©K_Thalhofer | Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2017. 

Check out other helpful articles about dog health Dogster:

23 thoughts on “How Much Water Should a Dog Drink a Day?”

  1. I live in AZ where temps will be over 100 for several weeks. Should dogs be drinking cold water? I’ve heard mixed reactions on giving dogs cold or ice water.

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  3. I have six dogs all ex-strays, the two big ones, a Rottie and a huge mixed variety, will both drink until the water bowl is empty and then a few minutes later will regurgitate a huge puddle on the floor, then start all over again, there is always water available because of having so many dogs as well as two cats and with daily temps of 40+ here in southern Italy, water needs to be available at all times, any suggestions gratefully accepted.

  4. CHRISTIE. WAGNER-STARLEY

    Excellent article BUT lacking are both descriptions and illustrations of the water dispensers for the horse and rabbit as well as the compartmentalized water dispenser for the dog.

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  7. This is great information, I always thought of leaving a water bowl is a good idea, to have water anytime my dog need. Did not know that they can also be over hydrated. Thanks for this

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  9. My dog drank a lot. over a gallon a day. Turns out she had Cushing’s disease. When she was hospitalized and they had her on IV her sodium levels increased to dangerous levels. I kick myself because if her pneumonia was caught earlier and she could have remained at home with free access to water if she would have survived. I’ll never know.

  10. My male German Shepherd drinks about 3 gallons of water a day. He will drink until his bowl is empty and when I refill he he repeats the same behavior. I’ve noticed he has constant head shaking and figured it was probably ear mites. We have tried many different medicines but its still there now he has also started losing fur all over his body. We have purchased special shampoos and creams and nothing helps. Could this be a sign of diabetes ? We lost our only income about 2 months ago and don’t have the money for all the tests at the vet. My husband’s last job closed up and didn’t pay any of its employees so we’re struggling. Any suggestions would be appreciated

    1. Hi there Trish,

      Thanks for reaching out! Here is an article for more information on canine diabetes:

      Can Dogs Get Diabetes? Let’s Discuss Canine Diabetes

      Here is an article for more information about dogs and water:

      How Dogs Drink Water Is Anything But Normal

      For the future, here are some articles to help you find affordable vet care for your dog:

      Affordable Pet Care: Where & How to Find Financial Assistance For Your Dog

      8 Ways to Find Affordable Vet Care for Your Dog

    2. Sorry to hear of your troubles. Our Beagle has been drinking and urinating a lot so I did research about diabetes. There are two types, glucose diabetes and “water” diabetes, which has to do with hormones that control the body’s retention of water. I thought of this when you mentioned that your dog is losing his fur. This is one of the symptoms. So try doing research under WATER DIABETES.

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  12. Vanessa Murray

    I had a golden that was always “a little dehydrated”. He loved water but did drink much, so I bought a fountain. The running water was the ticket. He happily drank from the running water while the other dogs would drink from the reservoir. Problem easily solved.

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