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How To Hydrate A Dog: 10 Ways To Make Sure Your Dog Gets Enough Fluids

how to hydrate a dog

Drinking water occurs naturally to canines, but sometimes you must figure out how to hydrate a dog if they’re a poor drinker, if they are exercising, or if they’re in a warm climate. Dehydration is a common problem in dogs, particularly in the hot summer months. Too much dehydration can be deadly.

Water seems to be a magic elixir for our body problems as humans. Have a headache? Drink some water. Breaking out? Have some water. Bad day? Here’s your water. And,water is just as important for our canine pals, except they can blatantly refuse to have it at their expense if they’re sick or simply not drink enough when it’s hot.

Certain measures prevent dehydration, including carrying portable water bowls and a portable dog water bottle during journeys and hikes. Also, don’t forget to add dental rinse for their teeth.  This article covers fun ways to keep your dog hydrated to keep your dog’s body functioning in top-notch condition. 

Dogs can sometimes be stubborn and refuse to drink water just for the sake of it.  Dogs can only live so long without water, so they refuse water without understanding the implications of their actions. Lack of water in our dogs’ systems can impede their growth and lead to serious health issues.

Here we go through nine ways you can improve your dog’s water intake:

1. Ensure You Fill The Bowls Daily

Sometimes, pawrents make an honest mistake and fail to fill up the water bowl. These times, your dog stays thirsty simply because their bowls are empty. Change the water daily after cleaning the debris to encourage them to drink.

2. Running Water

As a dog parent, you’ve probably seen your dog licking a dripping faucet. Dogs fancy runny water because it’s fresh, cool and tastes better than stagnant water. Mini fountains are an excellent way to give your pup running water.

3. Adding Water to Dry Foods and Offer Wet Foods

Offering your furry friend moist food has numerous benefits. It increases their digestibility, makes the food easy to chew, and helps curb dehydration. These foods are highly beneficial for dogs with renal issues since they’re easy on their kidneys.

Wet food contains about 70 to 80% water and is attractive to poor eaters. You can choose to alternate between wet and dry food to increase your dog’s hydration. 

4. Add Flavor to Their Water and Give Fruits

Adding some of your dog’s favorite meat or bone broth into their water bowl can entice them to gulp it. If your dog has a runny nose after taking the broth, it may be a sign they are likely allergic to a broth ingredient. You can also add a tasty dog mouthwash to your dog’s water and reap all the dental benefits. 

Wondering what else you can give your dog besides water? You can give them whole or blended fruits, meat broths, goat’s milk or a little coconut water. Your pup will also be consuming fiber and vitamins that have numerous benefits on their health with these fruits.

Avoid toxic fruits like avocado, grapes, cherries and unripe tomatoes. These contain poisonous substances that can mess with your dog’s digestive system. 

5. Buy More Bowls

Add more bowls and distribute them around the house and even in the yard. Putting them where your pup roams around or relaxes the most could go a long way. Dogs, especially when age and lethargy kick in, can be too tired to walk to where their water is, thus staying thirsty. 

Pups are curious by nature and are attracted to new objects. Changing their water bowl can entice them to come closer and lap up the water.  Adding the number of bowls will work best when you have distributed them around the house.

6. Cool It (frozen treats and ice cubes)

Studies have shown that dogs prefer cool water over warm or hot. Cold water also reduces gulping, which could lead to vomiting and losing more water than they are taking in. Many dogs like to lick on ice cubes, but don’t let the dog chew the cubes to avoid teeth damage.

7. Carry Water When Traveling

Traveling or walking with your dog can be so much fun. That said, it’s recommended to put their health in check and avoid walking in hot weather. Dogs pant a lot when it’s hot outside and require lots of water to keep themselves rejuvenated.

8. Offer Your Dog Water From Your Cupped Hand

You can try to offer your dog water from your cupped hands if they insist on turning down the water. This will not only keep your dog hydrated but also strengthen the bond between you and your buddy.

9. Keep Their Bowls Clean

Keeping their bowls clean will keep the water clean, fresh, and tasty for your dog. Some dogs would rather die than drink water from a dirty bowl with an unpleasant smell. In contrast, other dogs can easily slurp water right from a muddy puddle. 

10. Use rehydration salts

If your dog is particularly exhausted or showing signs of dehydration, then be sure to add some rehydration salts to their water for extra electrolytes. Speak to your vet so that you always have some on hand in your puppy first aid kit.

Why Do Dogs Get Dehydrated?

Dehydration in dogs can be caused by lack of water,  reluctance to drink, diseases that cause vomiting and diarrhea, and excessive heat. Dehydration can be life-threatening if prolonged since dogs can only stay two days without water.

As a dog parent, I’m sure you’ve noticed your dog running to their water bowls now and then, especially after walks or playtime. Dogs are fond of taking water, but they can sometimes shun their water bowls. Taking in less water than what’s lost causes dehydration in dogs that range from mild to severe.

Signs of dehydration in dogs include:

  • Loss of skin elasticity 
  • Dry, sticky gums 
  • Gum discoloration, like pink gums 
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Dry nose
  • Rapid panting
  • Sunken eyes
  • Appetite loss
  • Weakness and collapse

Extreme dehydration can cause shock in dogs which can be fatal. It’s best to contact the vet ASAP If you notice any of these signs.

You can check a dog for dehydration by pinching the skin on the back of their head. If it does not spring back into place, your dog may be dehydrated. Another way is to check their gums. Stickiness is bad sign. Press your thumb firmly against a dog’s gum until it makes a white mark. Remove your thumb and time how long it takes for the white mark to become pink again. 

In a healthy dog, the gum should become pink within 1-1¾ seconds. If it takes 2 seconds or more, your dog is dehydrated.  This is called the capillary refill time or CRT. 

Why Do Dogs Need to Stay Hydrated?

Why Do Dogs Need to Stay Hydrated?

Water makes up 80% of your dog’s body. Like any other living thing, water is essential for our canine buddies, and they need it to live. 

 Water is needed for several bodily functions: 

  • To balance their body’s PH
  • Lubricate the joints
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Move cells around their bodies
  • Get rid of the waste through urination
  •  For comfortable bowel movements
  • Regulation of nerve function.

Almost everything in your dog’s body needs water directly or indirectly for it to work. That’s why we should try our best to ensure our pups take enough water daily.

How Much Water Do Dogs Need?

Dogs need 1 ounce of water per every pound it weighs on a daily basis. Dogs that are active most of the time, live in hot weather, pregnant dogs, and old dogs need more than other dogs to have everything working normally.

Sick dogs also need a lot of water intake. This is because they lose a lot of water than they take in when they vomit or have diarrhea, leading to electrolyte imbalances. Some medical conditions like Parvo need hospitalization for IV fluids to combat extreme water loss.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration in dogs can be fatal and leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, dry nose, sunken dry eyes, and panting uncontrollably. It could also lead to more severe health problems like kidney failure, seizures, and UTIs. 

1. Avoiding Excessive Exercises When Temperatures are High.

Dogs lose a lot of water to regulate their temperature in hot weather and regulate their temperature when it’s hot. Avoid walks when it’s too hot, and carry a bottle of water whenever you and your furry friend go for walks.

2. Keeping Water Available All The Times

Dogs should have access to water to drink anytime they feel parched.

If you leave your dog alone, fill their bowl with clean and fresh water. Place it where it’s easily accessible or where they usually take their meal.

3. Watching Their Health

Look out for signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and appetite changes that suggest a health issue. 

Sick dogs lose plenty of water through vomiting and diarrhea and experience secondary dehydration due to electrolyte loss. Some dogs need IV fluid administration to save their lives if dehydration gets too severe. 

How to Rehydrate a Dehydrated Dog

Step 1: Establish the cause of dehydration

Do other signs like vomiting and diarrhea accompany the dehydration? If so, the dog may be ill. Other instances of dehydration occur from excessive heat, exhibiting signs like a hot coat and red gums. 

Step 2: Take Your Dog to a Cool Area 

You can manage heat-induced dehydration by taking your dog inside where it’s cool. Place a cool towel on their bodies to help reduce their temperature.

Step 3: Offer Your Dog Water 

Most dogs will accept drinking water if the dehydration is caused by panting for temperature regulation. 

Step 4: Give Them ORS (Oral rehydration Solution) 

ORS, like unflavored Pedialyte or dog electrolyte drinks, are amazing for rehydrating a dehydrated dog. They do this by reintroducing lost electrolytes like Sodium into the body. Keep ORS solutions to a minimum because the sugar levels can affect your dog’s health.

Step 5. Hospital 

It’s time to take your dog to the vet if their condition doesn’t improve. Early medical intervention may save your dog’s life from extreme dehydration.

Final Thoughts

Our pups need water to be healthy and to survive. They need water to lubricate their joints, regulate their body temperatures, transport cells, and balance their PH.

When dogs refuse to drink water, owners can add broth to their water to entice them, wash their bowls, offer them fruits, place bowls of water in various places, or add water to their food.


Tamsin De La Harpe


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.

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