Just like humans and most other animals, the body of the dog is made up of around 80% water, and water is of course vital for every aspect of life and healthy living! Being adequately hydrated is important not only for its own sake, but also to help to keep the organs working, filter out toxins and regulate body temperature. A loss of just 10% of the body’s water can have serious consequences for your dog, so it is vital to ensure that they have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and make sure that they are drinking enough.
Read on for our advice on dogs and their water requirements, to ensure that this often-overlooked aspect of dog ownership is covered for your dog.
Whether your dog drinks tap water, rain water of even bottled water for the most pampered of pooches, it is vital that their water is clean and safe to drink. This not only means ensuring that the source of their water is fresh and clean, but that the receptacles that you provide their water in are clean as well.
Bacteria and other microscopic bugs can soon build up in a water bowl or in still, sitting water, which can not only lead to sickness and infections, but can also taint the taste of the water itself and make it unappealing to your dog. You should wash your dog’s water bowl daily, using hot water and washing up liquid; simply rinsing it out or just topping up the water is not sufficient! Your dog’s water bowl should also be in a reasonably good state of repair and not chewed or badly scratched, as damage of this type is a common culprit for harbouring bacteria.
When you are out at work or need to leave your dog alone for any period of time, it is of course vital to make provision for their water requirements while you are out. You should never return home to find that your dog’s water bowl is empty- if it is, then you are not leaving enough water down for them.
Some dogs have a tendency to knock over their bowls, which of course leaves them without water for the remainder of the day. Invest in sturdy bowls that are designed to be difficult to knock over, and leave more than one bowl out for your dog at all times so that they always have another option if there is an accident with one bowl. Unlike food, water should not be rationed or restricted, and there is no such thing as providing too much water for your dog!
Your dog’s water bowl should be suitable for their size and physical requirements; large dogs will have problems getting their heads into small bowls, and small bowls will not provide a great enough volume of water for their needs. Similarly, small dogs may struggle with a large, high-sided bowl when trying to drink comfortably. Getting enough water should not be a challenge for your dog!
The type of material that your dog’s bowl is made from should also be given some consideration. Stainless steel bowls are generally recommended as the most suitable type for dogs, as they are almost impossible to break, do not tarnish, and are resilient to scratching. Sturdy ceramic bowls are the next best option, but these can of course be broken or develop cracks.
Plastic bowls should be avoided if possible, as they are much more prone to scratching and harbouring bacteria than bowls made of other materials.
It is a never-ending mystery to dog owners why some dogs become obsessed with drinking from the toilet bowl, particularly when there is fresh, clean water available to them! Drinking from the toilet is something that you should strongly discourage, and not least because no one wants to be licked by a dog that has just had their head in the bowl! Try to establish if something about your dog’s proper water provision is off-putting to them, causing them to look for other sources of hydration. Toilet water is not only rife with bacteria, but also potentially harmful cleaning chemicals and is not suitable to drink! Keep the toilet lid down or the bathroom door closed, and teach your dog that the toilet is off limits.
When you are out with your dog, they will usually drink from any available source when they are thirsty. Dogs are not as discerning about the source of their water as cats are, so this is something you will need to be wary of. Drinking from fresh rainwater puddles is usually fine, as is the water in clean rivers and streams providing that you know it is safe. Do not allow your dog to drink from any unknown source, or from a stagnant lake, pond or marshland. Remember that saltwater such as sea water is not suitable to drink and will lead to further dehydration, and that your dog might not be aware of this fact!
There is no simple formula for how much water any dog needs to drink. Not only breed and size variations need to be taken into account, but also what you feed your dog, their activity levels and their natural propensity to drink.
Dogs will of course drink more during the summer than during the winter, and will drink more after exercise too. If you feed a high proportion of dry food to your dog, they will also then drink more water than if they are fed wet food, and are gaining some of their water intake requirements from their meals.
Take into account seasonal and exercise changes, but keep an eye out for indications that your dog is drinking much more or much less than usual without an obvious reason, as this can indicate a potential health problem.