A dog laps water from a running kitchen sink.

Is My Dog Drinking Too Much Water?

Water is essential for all cellular, organ, and tissue functions of the body, and drinking plenty of fresh, clean water is critical to good health for both humans and dogs alike. Vets say that one of the most common questions they hear is, “Can a dog drink too much water?” The answer is yes, and the overconsumption of water can be a sign of an underlying medical concern.

How Much Water Does a Dog Need?

The amount of water a dog should drink per day is dependent on their size and breed, as well as other external factors such as the type of food they eat. The general rule is that dogs drink 20 to 40 milliliters of water per pound of body weight a day. This comes out to about 3 to 4 cups of water for a 20-pound dog.

Factors That Influence Your Dog’s Consumption of Water

There are several factors that impact how much water a dog drinks, including:

Why You Should Monitor the Water Your Dog Drinks

When your dog drinks water, it is important that they only drink clean, fresh water. Water from a swimming pool, ocean, or river may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, fungi, or have a high concentration of salt, and is not a good source of hydration for a healthy dog.

One way to help control what type of water your dog is exposed to is to keep them on a leash whenever they’re outdoors. You can also maintain a fenced-in yard if possible, and monitor it regularly for water pooling or other sources of water that you believe may not be fresh or clean.

You can entice some dogs to drink more water by using pet fountains, offering additional water bowls, or adding light flavoring like chicken broth to their water bowl.

What are Water Intake Recommendations for Dogs?

If your dog is active, outside, exposed to high heat or humidity or has any fluid loss, they may require more water than normal. Your dog’s water bowl should be washed at least twice a week and be big enough to hold at least one- to two-days worth of water.

You should always keep one water bowl outside and one inside, and monitor the cleanliness of the water in both. If you have multiple dogs or cats, you should have more than one water bowl in the house.

Even water found outdoors that visually looks clean can be contaminated with pesticides, parasites, or bacteria. Parasites and bacterial organisms are common in ponds, lakes, and other small bodies of water. An example of a disease that is spread by standing water includes leptospirosis, a bacterium that causes liver and kidney failure.

Another hazard that can be lurking in outdoor water is blue-green algae. Commonly found in stagnant water in late summer or early fall, even a small ingested amount can make you dog very ill. Symptoms of blue-green algae toxicity initially start with severe gastrointestinal signs , such as vomiting and diarrhea.

If you suspect that your dog may be drinking more water than normal, please speak to a veterinarian. Do not ever limit your dog’s water intake or leave your dog without water, as dehydration could result and make them extremely sick.