When it comes to your dog's nutrition, water is even more important than protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
Your dog's body will naturally lose water all day. He loses water as he sweats through his paws and when he pants. And he loses water when he pees and poops.
A dog that loses too much water -- just 10% to 15% of the water in his body -- can get very sick and even die. So that water he's losing needs to be replaced.
How Much Water Is Enough?
A good rule of thumb: Make sure your dog gets at least 1 ounce of water daily for each pound he weighs. That means a 20-pound dog needs at least 20 ounces of water every day. That's more than 2 cups, or as much as in some bottles of water or soda.
To help you keep track of how much water your dog drinks, make a note of how high you fill his water bowl and how far the level has dropped the next day.
Keep Plenty of Water Available
Leave the water bowl where your dog can get to it easily. Since dogs can knock over the bowl while they're drinking, use one that's made to not tip and spill.
Clean the bowl daily. Refill often so the water supply stays fresh.
Whenever you and your dog are playing outdoors -- especially when it's hot -- bring cool water with you for him to drink. If your dog stays outside on hot days, add ice to the water bowl.
Some dogs are happy to drink from the toilet. But that isn't a clean source of water! Keep the toilet lid closed so your dog stays out.
Signs of Dehydration
When dogs don't drink enough water or if they lose too much water, they become dehydrated. Older dogs and dogs that are sick, pregnant, or nursing can get dehydrated easily.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Little energy
- No interest in eating
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth
You can use these two ways to quickly check your dog for dehydration, too. If the response isn't normal, it's a sign of possible dehydration:
Lift the skin on the back of your dog's neck or between the shoulders. It should sink back to its normal place right away.
Gently press on your dog's gums until the pressure creates a light spot. The normal color should come back right away when you remove your finger.
If you think your dog might be dehydrated, take him to the vet right away.
Prevent Diarrhea in Your Dog
Many health problems can cause diarrhea, including infections from bacteria, viruses, and worms. A disease called parvovirus triggers severe vomiting and diarrhea. And because your dog will lose more water with diarrhea, diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
Keep your dog healthy. To help prevent these illnesses:
- Have your dog vaccinated regularly.
- Keep him away from old food and garbage.
- Talk to your vet about treatments to ward off parasite infections.