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How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water? Asked & Answered - PawSafe
Dog Dental

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water? Asked & Answered

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how long can dogs go without water

How long can dogs go without water? Like any mammal, water is necessary for a canine’s survival, and knowing how long dogs can go without water is just part of being a responsible doggy parent.

Dogs can survive for 2 to 3 days without water, but that doesn’t mean they should. Signs of dehydration, like dry gums and lethargy, will show after about 24 hours. We always want a clean water bowl with a good canine mouth rinse available during the day so a dog can drink water whenever they need to.

A dog that has stayed for a maximum of two days is far from healthy and is living in survival mode. Such a dog can experience failing vital organs and possibly death without urgent intervention. Responsible dog owners give their dogs fresh drinking water every day.

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?

As living organisms, dogs can only go for 48 to 72 hours without water, and it’s a matter of life and death. While dogs can stay for three days without access to water, it will take a tremendous toll on their body.

After a day, your dog will have started to feel an immense thirst that gets almost unbearable as the days pass. Even if you take proper measures, like quality diets and supplements like probiotic chews, access to clean water topples them.

Some studies suggest that domesticated animals can live up to seven days without water, but dogs can’t stay this long due to their size. Animals are 60 to 80% water making it an absolute necessity for survival. Research has shown that well-nourished but dehydrated animals dropped 12% of their body weight.

Owners that subject a dog to days without water are guilty of animal cruelty. Just because a dog’s body can handle more than 24 hours without water doesn’t mean they should ever experience it. A dog regularly exposed to prolonged periods without water is in danger of issues we discuss below.

Dangers of Leaving Dogs for Prolonged Periods Without Water

Dogs left for extended periods without water will have damage to their bodies and could, sadly, possibly die. A lack of water could seriously impede a dog’s quality of life, particularly if it occurs frequently. An innocent case of forgetting to fill out your dog’s water bowl is unlikely to cause these dangers.

1. Dehydration

Dehydration is the most apparent and dangerous effect of lacking water in dogs. Dehydration can either occur from reduced input, meaning less water consumption, or increased output from vomiting and diarrhea.

Dogs in hotter climates are especially susceptible to experiencing the pains of inadequate water supply. Canines rapidly lose water when they perspire through their tongues when they sweat, which they need to replenish.

Dogs with chronic diarrhea or vomiting are also at risk of secondary dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance. This is why dogs with bad diarrhea or vomiting, such as those with parvo, are placed under IV fluid treatments.

After 24 hours without water, your dog will start getting weaker and show the following warning signs of dehydration.

What Are the Sign of Dehydration in Dogs?

  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Dry nose
  • Dry-looking, sunken eyes
  • A dry, sometimes cracked nose
  • Dry, sticky gums (xerostomia)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and reduced energy levels
  • Collapsing in severe cases
  • Shock

It’s extremely crucial to be watchful of signs of a dehydrated dog. When dogs lose more water and electrolytes than they take in, they’re at risk of shock, kidney failure, and death in severe cases.

2. Overheating

Dogs are highly susceptible to overheating because they don’t sweat as much as humans. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs are at an even greater risk of overheating because of the restricted airflow by shortened muzzles.

A study was specially dedicated to evaluating hydration studies for working dogs like military dogs in hot environments. High temperatures increase the risk of heat stroke and heat stress in dogs, especially those that perform demanding tasks in adverse environments.

3. Urinary tract issues

Prolonged dehydration results in urinary problems like UTIs when toxins aren’t effectively flushed out of a dog’s system. Other issues like kidney stones and renal failure follow dehydration closely in dogs. These conditions result in oliguria or reduced urine output.

If your dog is struggling with urinary tract issues, you’ll notice struggling to pee, less pee, and sometimes bloody urine. Urinary tract issues require immediate medical attention before they escalate into more severe conditions like cancer and even death.

4. Heat stroke

Dogs that stay outside through extremely high temperatures (above 32°C or 89.6°F) are at risk of heat stroke. This is a more severe form of overheating and needs immediate attention, also called hyperthermia or elevated body temperature.

When a dog’s body temperature exceeds 104°F (38.5°C), immediate intervention is necessary. Dogs with heatstroke can improve once placed in a cool area and allowed to drink water. Here are signs of a heat stroke to look out for:

  • Excessive panting
  • Heightened heart rate
  • Disorientation and perhaps a lack of balance
  • Drooling
  • Bright, red gums and tongue
  • Skin hot to touch
  • Dry mucous membranes
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Organ failure

An extreme result of the continued lack of water in dogs is heart, lungs, liver, and renal failure. Dehydration is both a symptom and a cause of renal failure in dogs.

Chronic dehydration reduces blood flow to vital body organs, resulting in multiple organ failures. Other signs of organ failure include vomiting, weight loss, pale gums, lethargy, and chemical breath.

What Happens If a Dog Doesn’t Drink Water for Two Days?

Depending on prior health, dogs without water for two days will suffer from chronic dehydration, organ failure onset, and even death. Dogs can barely survive multiple two-day intervals between drinking water.

While most dogs survive the tow day mark without water, they may end up with lifelong issues like kidney failure. Those sick before not drinking water will likely not make it without medical intervention and IV fluids.

If your dog shows reluctance to drink water for 24 hours, don’t let more time pass and contact the vet immediately. This is especially true if the refusal occurs with other symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.

How Often Do Dogs Need Water: Can I Leave My Dog Without Water During the Day?

Dogs need water daily, preferably during the day, to maintain healthy body function. Most healthy dogs will do just fine without water in a cool indoor environment for about eight hours. However, leaving dogs without water for hours during the day should never be made routine.

Leaving dogs without water during the day is much different from doing it at night. Foremost, dogs lose more water and struggle to maintain a healthy body temperature during the day than at night. Therefore, you can’t leave your dog without water during the day.

Is a dog okay without water overnight?

Your dog should be fine without water overnight. It’s advisable to leave your dog without water overnight and take away the bowl of water two hours before bedtime. This allows you uninterrupted bedtime since your dog will likely not need to pee if they’re potty trained.

8-to-10 hours is the rough estimate of how long most dogs can go without peeing at night and about six during the day. Puppies need more bathroom breaks both at night and daytime until they’re about six months old.

Potty-trained pups that have drunk water before bed may feel the need to hold it in. In extreme cases, this results in urinary issues and even renal failure in an unwarranted attempt not to displease their owners.

How long can a dog go without water when sick?

You should never allow a dog to go without water once you establish they’re sick. Hydration is vital to sustaining an ill dog and is the cornerstone of treatments they receive in hospitals. Contact the vet immediately if your sick dog refuses to drink water to prevent dehydration.

What to Do If My Dog Isn’t Drinking Water?

1. Seek immediate medical advice

Dogs refusing to drink water is often a sign of severe medical conditions like viral or bacterial infections. It occurs with other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which contribute to further water loss that can cause shock.

2. Incorporate wet food

Some dogs aren’t very water-motivated, even when there’s nothing wrong. Dry dog food is tougher on the kidneys and requires more water intake than wet food, which is about 80% water. So feeding food with a high water content is one way to help a dog drink water.

3. Flavor the water with broth

Hydration is one of the reasons dogs can have coconut water and other tastier water alternativ-e-archives like bone broth. A study further showed the benefits of nutrient-enriched water in maintaining cooler temperatures in working dogs.

4. Change the bowl and give fresh water

Still, water can accumulate bacteria and become unpleasant to dogs. Other dogs like to drink water from certain sources and will be picky if they change.

5. Cool your dog down with ice

Dogs will gladly chug down cold water on a hot day. Adding ice cubes to your dog’s water will encourage them to drink it. Just be careful about dogs eating the ice, as it can cause teeth breakage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a medium-sized dog go without water?

A medium-sized dog can go for about three days without water. All dogs should drink water daily, but their bodies can push to 2 to 3 days, which is highly inadvisable.

How long can a 10 lbs dog go without water?

A 10 lbs dog can live for about 72 hours without water, and the time significantly reduces if they were sick beforehand. Dogs need about an ounce of water per pound of weight, so a 10 lbs dog needs about 10 ounces of water daily.

Can a dog go eight hours without water?

Dogs can comfortably go for eight hours without water at night but not during the day. Dogs need more water during the day to replace the water they lost during panting and for cooling off. At night, water should be withheld to reduce their need to pee at night.

How long can dogs go without food and water?

Dogs can go without food for about five days, but only for three days without water. These are extreme scenarios that dog owners should never practice because they can lead to organ damage and even death.

Conclusion

Most dogs can go for about 48 to 72 hours without drinking water. This should be completely avoided because extreme dehydration can cause lifelong health issues and organ damage. Water is life to dogs, and none should be denied it.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.