Dogs are indeed smart creatures. But while they can fend for themselves when needed, they also require care just like a human would. Without proper food, drink, or care available, you’d be doing your pet dogs more harm than good.
How long can dogs go without water? Generally, the longest time that dogs can go without water is 3 days. That number is considered the maximum safe days allowed. In reality, keeping a dog without water, even for just 24 hours, can become harmful to their health.
The number of days that your dog can go without water will vary depending on the circumstance. For example, if your dog eats food that is usually wet, then they can go without water for longer than 3 days.
However, you must also consider the weather and the temperature. The hotter it is, then all the more your dog needs water. Having your dog go without water for 3 days in severe heat or warm temperatures might cause them to suffer from dehydration earlier than expected.
Read on to learn more about how long can dogs go without water and how to tell when your dog is dehydrated.
How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?
Drinking water among dogs is very important, just like with humans. Dogs can go longer without food, but without enough water, their bodily functions can shut down and may even prove fatal along the way.
It’s common knowledge that a lot of dogs – hundreds and thousands in number – die from dehydration and starvation every year. The numbers alone can be alarming. It’s always important to encourage pet owners to take care of their dogs even better, especially when it comes to their diet.
As mentioned earlier, dogs generally can’t go more than 3 days without water. If they do, they are at serious risk of dehydration. It is best to never let a dog go without water for even 24 hours to ensure they are fully hydrated.
If it is a hot summer day, or the dog has been moving or running a lot and are exhausted, they could not go longer than one or two days max. Dehydration would set in, and they can very likely die within 2 days if too hot or exhausted. Humans can go 3 to 4 days; dogs are about the same, but more like 2 or 3 days.
Will a few hours without water hurt your dog? A few hours, while you were out jogging or doing yoga, is not something you have to worry about. It’s a common occurrence for dogs to get dehydrated, yes.
But you can ease off from the worry by making sure that your dog gets enough water throughout the day to avoid life-threatening consequences to your pet. If you let your dog go without water for days or more, your pet might end up with organ failure or, worst, die from dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration in Dogs
A number of causes can be linked to your dog getting dehydrated. If your dog is sick, they won’t likely eat or drink anything, causing them to suffer from dehydration. Dogs can also get dehydrated when the weather’s too warm or hot and they don’t have access to water or don’t have enough water to drink during such seasons.
Pet dogs are also more prone to dehydration when they consume a lot of sodium. Sometimes, medicating your dogs can also affect their water intake or cause them not to like to drink water at all.
Your dogs can only go so long without water. Leaving your dogs without water for 12 hours or longer, for days on end, can cause them to suffer from an untreatable disease like organ malfunction that might lead to the worst-case scenario – death.
How to Know When Your Dog Is Dehydrated?
It’s not as easy to determine if your dog is thirsty or dehydrated, but you can observe your dog and check for possible signs of dehydration.
One of the things you can do to test if your dog has been without enough water for a long time is to check for its skin elasticity.
To do this, all you have to do is pinch the skin of your dog, preferably at their neck, and release it.
If the skin immediately goes or bounces back into place, then you have nothing to worry about. An elastic skin – when you pull back your dog’s skin, and it immediately goes back – means that your dog is well hydrated. However, if it takes some time for the skin to move back to normal, then it indicates that your dog is dehydrated.
By this time, you should be careful in monitoring how much water they intake or if they intake water at all. While others do not consider this a cause for concern, finding out that your dog is dehydrated is something you should be worried about.
If your dog is somewhat irritated with all the skin pulling, you can also do another check that is less annoying for your pet. It’s also a challenge to do this test because some dogs generally have loose skin under their necks.
You can perform another test by simply observing or checking your dog’s gums and nose. A well-hydrated dog will always have wet and slick gums, plus their nose is always wet. But if your dog laps at you with gums that feel dry or sticky, then you might want to worry a little as these are indications of dehydration.
See the below video for how long a dog can go without drinking water, and tips on how to check if your dog is dehydrated:
Other Signs of Dehydration
A dry nose on your dog is one of the easiest ways to watch for warning signs of dehydration. But since a dry nose is also a sign of sickness among dogs, we listed a few more telltale signs to give you a warning that your dog is really dehydrated.
- Lethargy – lack of water in your dog’s body will cause them to lose energy. It also decreases blood flow in their body making them look more tired than normal or “lazy” than their usual active self.
- Excessive panting – since dehydration substantially decreases blood flow, you might find your dog panting for air. Don’t mistake this for just the warm weather because it’s an early sign that they’re starting to get dehydrated.
- Loss of appetite – dehydration often causes dry or sticky gums which make it hard for dogs to eat food, especially if you have them on a diet of dry food.
- Sunken eyes – when your dog shows sunken eyes, you should be really worried because it indicates that their dehydration is already severe and may be affecting their organs even worse. This warning sign also warrants an immediate trip to your veterinarian to give your dog the necessary medical attention it needs to rehydrate.
- Dark urine – yellowish or dark-colored urine from your pet dog indicates that their body doesn’t have enough water to flush out toxins in their body. While not an immediate cause for concern, make sure that you get your dog to drink water immediately and frequently.
Sickness Causes Dehydration in Dogs
Just like with humans, your dog needs water to help with its body’s metabolic functions. Water also helps regulate their body temperature, especially when it’s hot. Of course, your pet needs water to flush out toxins in their bodies. That’s why without enough water, your dog’s body can shut down from its normal body processes, or worse, suffer fatally.
Sometimes, dogs won’t feel like eating or drinking when they’re sick, and it is normal in most cases. However, you should immediately bring your dog to a vet if they also happen to suffer from diarrhea or vomiting as it hastens the process of dehydration in their bodies. Both diarrhea and vomiting can cause your dog to damage their major organs that could lead to fatal consequences if not treated immediately.
Sickness among dogs can also cause them to go for long days without water. Serious sicknesses like heat stroke, diabetes, or kidney disease can cause your dogs to willfully dehydrate themselves.
This is because dogs suffering from illnesses lose more water than they take. It’s also the reason why you should immediately head to the vet when your dog won’t stop vomiting or suffers from diarrhea.
As first aid, your vet might put your dog on IV fluids to immediately rehydrate them and provide other nutrients as well to hasten the process of restoring the water loss in your dog’s body. Most of the time, the length of rehydration by IV depends on how fast your dog can recover from going for long without water.
How Much Water Should Dogs Drink to Prevent Dehydration?
It’s fairly easy to keep your dogs hydrated. Just make sure that you provide them adequate water at all times by filling their bowls with clean and fresh water.
It’s important to note that your dogs should drink clean water lest they suffer from stomach problems or have diarrhea, just like humans. Also, some dogs will only drink clean water unless they’re very thirsty.
Your dogs won’t know how much water they should drink, but you should as their owner. Dogs are smart animals, but they go by their instinct, like drinking water when they’re thirsty.
A good rule is that your dog should drink an ounce of water for every pound it weighs. Meaning your dog who weighs 20 pounds should drink 20 ounces of water in a day. Of course, you won’t give your dog the full amount of 20 ounces of water in just one drinking.
The total amount of water your dog actually drinks in a day also depends on several factors. For one, your dog would require more water when they engage in physical activities like exercises, training, or games. The weather is also a consideration. Sometimes, the frequency and how much your dog eats also affect their water intake.
The thing is, it’s important that you give your dog enough water from time to time. Also, make sure that they have access to clean and fresh water, especially when the weather is hot. If you don’t like to replenish your dog’s water bowl every hour or two, you can buy an automated drinking device instead. If your dog doesn’t drink water, the best way is to flavor their water or give them wet food or any other incentive just to get them to drink. Your ultimate goal is to make them drink and not leave for long without enough water.
Just to be safe, you can follow the general rule of giving your dog the same ounce of water as their body weight in pounds. Don’t wait and observe how long your dogs can go without water. By the time you’ve made your observation, your dog would be in bad shape, and rehydrating at home may not cut it out for you or your furry friend.
Conclusion – How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?
How long can dogs go without water? The maximum days that a dog can go without water is 3 days. A dog should not, however, go even one day without water. When it is hot out or when your dog is exhausted from walking or running, they must drink within 1 or a maximum of 2 days.
Sickness like diarrhea, vomiting, or kidney disease accelerates the process of dehydration among dogs. Puppies need more water than adult dogs because they are more active.
At the early signs of dehydration, it’s best to immediately rehydrate your dog by getting them to drink water. Adding ice to your dog’s water can help entice them to drink, especially in warm weather.
If your dog doesn’t want to drink much, you can wet their food with gravy or broth to aid in rehydration. If your dog won’t drink water at all, even when you try to flavor it, it’s best to consult with your vet.
Dehydration among dogs can set very quickly in hot weather. Dogs can last for about a week without eating food but only last 2 to 3 days without drinking water.
Dogs that eat wet food are less likely to drink more water given that they have a supplement of water already from their food compared to dogs that only eat a dry diet.
If you need to leave your dogs for more than eight hours, make sure that there is somebody to look out for them or that they can roam free with access to enough food and drink.