How Much Water Does a Puppy Need?
New puppy owners often ask their vet… “How much water does my pup need?”
Water is an essential part of a dog’s body and critical to good health. After all, water is essential for critical cellular, organ, and tissue functions of the body. One realizes the importance of water when faced with the negative consequences of dehydration. As little as a 10% loss of body water can be fatal to a puppy or adult dog.
Water in the body is not static, but a constant and dynamic process. Dogs lose water through breathing, panting, urinating, and having bowel movements. Dogs take in water primarily through drinking, but also get some water from eating food and, to a small degree, by the body’s normal metabolism. We refer to this dynamic flow of fluids as “intake” and “output.” Intake is primarily from drinking and water content in food. Output is fluid loss through normal methods of panting, drooling, urine, and bowel movements, as well as abnormal means like diarrhea, vomiting, and blood loss.
Dehydration results from more “output” than “intake.” Overhydration results from more “intake” than “output.”
7 Factors that Affect How Much a Puppy Drinks
There are 7 factors that can impact how much water a puppy or adult dog should drink.
- Dry dog food vs. Canned dog food. Dry dog food has approximately 15 and up to 30% water, while canned dog food can contain 50% to 75% water. Dogs that eat canned food may drink and require less water.
- Body weight. Water requirements are based on body weight. Bigger dogs require more water than smaller dogs.
- Sodium intake. Just as we have increased thirst after ingestion of a high-salt snack, ingestion of excessive sodium for dogs can create a need for increased amounts of water intake.
- Exercise & activity. Dogs that are more active drink and require more water.
- Weather exposure. The high temperatures of the spring and summer cause dogs to pant. Panting helps them regulate their body temperature, but also results in loss of water.
- Drug therapy. Some medications increase a dog’s water intake, including steroids or diuretics like Furosemide (commonly known as Lasix).
- Disease. Diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes can cause increased thirst in dogs.
5 Most Common Causes for Puppy Dehydration
There are many possible reasons that a dog or puppy is dehydrated. They include:
- Eating Indigestible Items. Puppies commonly chew on and ingest things that are not digestible, such as toys, ribbon, string, garbage, or even chemicals. These ingestions can cause fluid losses through vomiting and diarrhea.
- Exercise. Puppies can be extremely active, and intense play can deplete bodily fluids.
- Heat. Excessive water loss can occur during exposure to extreme heat. Never let a puppy stay out in the sun without shade, and never leave your dog in an enclosed car.
- Parasites. Puppies are born with intestinal parasites, commonly referred to as worms, which can cause diarrhea resulting in loss of water.
- Viruses. Different viruses can infect puppies, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and lethargy leading to dehydration. One virus common in puppies is parvovirus.
How Much Water Should a Puppy Drink?
The amount of water a puppy should drink per day is dependent on their size. The general rule is that dogs drink 20 to 40 ml of water per pound of body weight per day. This comes out to about 1 to 5 cups of water for a 20-pound dog.
Below is a table of water requirements based on size. Note that there is a range, which is influenced by the factors listed above. And like people, some dogs are better at drinking water than others.
Water Requirements Based on Canine Body Weight
|Dog weight in pounds||Amount of water a dog should drink per day in ML||Amount of water a dog should drink per day in cups|
|3 – 5||60 to 200 mL/day||¼ to almost a cup/day|
|6 – 10||120 mL to 400 mL/day||½ cup to little over 1 ½ cups/day|
|11 – 20||220 mL to 800 mL/day||1 cup to 3 1/3 cups/day|
|21 – 30||420 mL to 1200 mL/day||1 ¾ cup to 5 cups/day|
|31 – 40||620 mL to 1600 mL/day||2 2/3 cups to 6 ½ cups/day|
|41 – 50||820 mL to 2000 mL/day||3 ½ cups to 9 1/3 cups/day|
|51 – 60||1020 mL – 2400 mL/day||4 ¼ cups to 10 cups/day|
|61 – 70||1220 mL – 2800 mL/day||5 cups to 11 2/3 cups/day|
|71 – 80||1420 mL – 3200 mL/day||6 cups to 13 1/3 cup/day|
|81 – 90||1620 mL – 3600 mL/day||7 cups to 15 cups/day|
|91 – 100||1820 mL – 4000 mL/day||7 ½ cups to 16 2/3 cups/day|
|101 – 110||2020 mL – 4400 mL/day||8 2/3 cups to 19 1/3 cups/day|
|111 – 120||2220 mL – 4800 mL/day||9 ¼ cups to 20 cups/day|
|121 – 130||2420 mL – 5200 mL/day||10 cups to 21 cups/day|
|131 – 140||2620 mL – 5600 mL/day||11 cups to 23 1/3 cups/day|
*Measurements rounded to the nearest quarter cup
Note: There are 240 mL in a cup, 4 cups in a quart, 8 cups in a half gallon, and 16 cups in a gallon.
How to Tell If Your Puppy Is Dehydrated
If your puppy is acting lethargic, not eating or drinking, vomiting, or has diarrhea, then they are probably dehydrated. It is possible to examine a puppy to determine if they are dehydrated. Physical signs of dehydration include the following:
- Lethargy and depression. Dogs that are dehydrated don’t feel well, are lethargic, and generally have reduced activity levels. Dehydrated puppies aren’t as playful and sleep more.
- Sticky gums. Gum tissue in a well-hydrated puppy is shiny in appearance and moist and slippery when touched. Dehydrated dogs will have dry, tacky gums.
- Slow skin tent test. A common test for dehydration is the skin tent test. To perform this test, gently pull up on the loose skin over the back of the neck. During normal hydration, the skin will go back into position quickly. The skin of dehydrated pets will go back into place more slowly than usual. It can take practice to see the difference and there are variations based on breed and age.
- Sunken eyes. Severely dehydrated pets will have lost excessive amounts of fluid, resulting in a dull, sunken appearance in the eyes.
7 Water Recommendations for Dogs and Puppies
- If your dog is active, plays in extreme temperatures, or has any fluid loss (such as from vomiting and diarrhea), they may require more water than what is listed above.
- It is critical to provide your dog with plenty of fresh, clean water at all times.
- Your dog’s water bowl should be washed thoroughly twice weekly, ideally by running it through the dishwasher.
- Water bowls should be big enough to hold 36 to 48 hours of water.
- Provide several water bowls, especially if you have multiple dogs. There can be competition for water, so multiple sources are recommended.
- Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s water intake.
- Not drinking can be dangerous and lead to life-threatening dehydration.
Frequently Asked Questions About Puppy Hydration
How can I get my pup to drink?
Getting a puppy to drink can be easy or difficult depending on if your puppy is sick. Tips to get a puppy to drink is to offer a fresh bowl of water, place an ice cube in the water, offer some canned food, flavor water with chicken or beef broth, or try to use a needleless syringe to gently place water in your puppy’s mouth. If your puppy is so sick that they are not swallowing, it is possible that they can aspirate, so special care is needed. If you are worried about your puppy’s hydration, please call your veterinarian.
How much water should a 10-pound dog drink in a day?
Every dog is a little different and water needs will depend on their size, exposure to heat, activity level, and if they eat canned or dry food. As a rule of thumb, dogs drink 20 to 40 ml of water per pound of body weight per day. This comes out to about 1 ½ to 2 cups of water for a 10-pound dog per day.
How do you treat puppy dehydration?
Dehydration is treated by replacing fluids. How this is done depends on the cause for dehydration. For some fluid loses, fluids can be replaced by encouraging a puppy to eat and drink. For puppies with an underlying medical problem, fluids may need to supplemented with subcutaneous (SQ) or intravenous fluid administration. If you have concerns, it is safest to see your vet.
I have a new 8-week-old puppy. How can I tell if they are doing ok?
A normal 8-week-old puppy should be playful, eating and drinking well, and having regular urinations and formed bowel movements.
I wonder if my dog is drinking TOO much. Is that possible?
Excessive drinking is possible and can be a cause for concern. Possible reasons include health problems like kidney disease or diabetes mellitus, however, both are uncommon in puppies.
What is the easiest way to give my puppy some extra hydration?
The easiest way is to add some water to their food. You can wet dry food or add water to canned food, giving it a gravy consistency.
My dog is drinking a lot of water. Is that ok?
Drinking adequate amounts of fresh, clean water is critical to good health. However, drinking too much can be a problem.
When do puppies start drinking water?
Puppies nurse when they are born and that is their primary source of fluid intake and nutrition. Pups start drinking water and eating some food around 3 to 4 weeks of age.
How can I prevent my puppy from getting dehydrated?
You can prevent puppy dehydration in the following ways:
- Provide recommended vaccinations to prevent viral infections, such as parvovirus. Learn more here.
- Administer recommended deworming medications to eliminate intestinal parasites.
- Exercise your puppy in the morning and evening when the ambient temperature and humidity are lower during warm seasons.
- Prevent problems that can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Slowly change food brands and monitor your puppy to ensure they don’t ingest foreign materials such as trash, toys, strings, toxins, and ribbon. It is a good idea to keep trash cans covered and out of reach.
How can I tell if my puppy is drinking enough water?
It can be hard to know how much a dog is drinking, especially if you have multiple dogs and bowls. If your puppy is playful, active, eating, drinking, urinating normally, with no vomiting or diarrhea, then he or she is probably getting enough water.
I’m housetraining my puppy. Should I leave water out for my puppy all day?
This depends on the puppy. Here is a housetraining schedule that may help.
How long after drinking do puppies pee?
Most puppies will urinate and defecate within 15 to 30 minutes of eating and drinking.
How much water should a nursing dog drink?
During the first few weeks of nursing, puppies don’t drink any water. They start to drink water around the time that they get exposed to dog food, which is around 3 to 4 weeks of age.