How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Typically, dogs can survive without water for two to three days. However, that doesn't mean they should be subjected to it merely because they might survive. All the processes in the dog's body are affected when he is dehydrated. Their vital organs can fail if they do not have sufficient access to fresh, clean water.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?“.

Without water how long can a dog survive?

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water

In the end there is no one right answer to this question since each dog is unique.

Using an epic story about a dog with dehydration as a way to begin this guide about keeping our dogs hydrated.

Describes a remarkable journey taken by a dog.

Who despite severe dehydration lived to tell the tale.

The Gobi is the name of the dog because she ran six days across the desert.

How and why is water important to dogs?

Water is vital to a dog because it is what makes them up. 

Dogs consume more water than humans! 

Humans are only 60% water compared to 80% for dogs.  

Keeping our dogs happy and healthy depends on water in many ways.

As it “flows” blood supplies oxygen and nutrients by aiding digestion removing waste controlling body temperature and regulating body temperature. 

How much water do dogs need?

The next logical step after hearing how important water is to dogs is to find out what quantity of water they need.

Most of these guidelines should only be used as rough estimates since they are all based on a dogs weight. 

It is a bit limited because no two dogs are the same which is fine in itself.

Dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight according to experts.

Therefore each of my 60-pound Golden Retrievers should drink 60 ounces of water a day.

As I am sure you do you would like to be able to picture or visualize 60 ounces…

Does anyone else only work in metric?

Approximately two quarts are contained in 60 ounces. 

I find that a lot.

However other factors need to be considered besides weight.

In the next section I will look at these. 

Four important hydration factors 

Besides the weight of a dog I believe there are four other factors to consider when deciding how much water your dog should consume. 


Inactive dogs will need to drink more than active dogs.


Puppies and elderly dogs require more water than dog breeds that are in their middle years. 


A dog eating kibble will need more water than a dog eating canned food or raw food. 


If it is very hot or very cold outside a dog will need more water than if it is a mild day.

Can you imagine how much more dogs need to drink on a very cold day as well as a blisteringly hot day?

This was news to me as well and I explain more in the following section. 

Why do older dogs drink more?

Older dogs are more likely to drink more than younger dogs for three main reasons. 

The most common symptom of all three diseases is excessive thirst. 

Those conditions include kidney failure diabetes and Cushings disease.

Lets begin by discussing kidney failure.

Kidney disease is more prevalent in older dogs because their kidneys wear out as they age. 

In a dog with healthy kidneys waste products can be filtered out without using a lot of water.

An aging kidneys ability to filter waste increases naturally as its function deteriorates. Therefore they must drink more water in order to stay hydrated.

In terms of diabetes the AKC believes that it predominantly affects middle-aged and aging dogs. 

A diabetic is someone who has too much sugar in their blood which if left untreated can poison their organs. 

Dogs with diabetes drink a lot more than they normally do and that is one of the biggest symptoms! 

An age-related condition that affects older and middle-aged dogs are Cushings disease.

When the body of a dog produces too much cortisol which is a very important hormone it causes hypercortisolemia.

Now that we know why older dogs drink more we can turn our attention to puppies 

Why do puppies drink more?

The way I describe this needs to be careful. 

Your puppy may not drink more water than an adult dog but relative to his size he probably will.

In addition because they are growing they need to drink so much water. 

Donot forget that dogs are up to 80% water too? 

Does drinking more water contribute to this growth?

The dangers of dehydration

A dog that is fit and healthy will also drink the appropriate amount of water just like a healthy human does.

Technically this is called self-regulation. 

We only need to make sure they have enough freshwater. 

There are real dangers from dogs drinking too much or too little when they do not need much input from their owners and are not fit and healthy.

The concept of dehydration is much more familiar to us than that of overhydration. 

Dogs can die when the amount of water in their bodies drops by as little as 10%.  

Dehydration is especially dangerous for puppies.

Puppy puppies are not quite mature because they are so busy having fun that they havenot learned how to look after themselves properly. 

In contrast puppies tend to have more diarrhea and vomit more often than adult dogs.

In addition puppies are always growing so their drinking needs are constantly changing.

What are the signs of dehydration?

Although your dogs mouth could hang open and they may pant furiously when dehydrated other signs are more subtle. 

You can check a few things however. 

The first is fast easy and clean whereas the second is a bit messy.

First the messy one- looking in your dogs mouth.

Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth.

Normally you will find a slimy mess in your dogs mouth when you look inside. 

The gums and lips are just glistening with saliva- if you touch the gums you should be able to glide your finger around very easily.

However dogs with Xerostomia do not produce saliva; their gums are drier and their lips are not as slobbery as they normally are. 

Check it out! How do your dogs lips and gums look and feel?

Compared to the first test the second is a little cleaner. The only thing you need to do is gently pinch and lift a bit of skin around your dogs neck or shoulders.

Skin that falls back into place easily indicates that your dog isnot dehydrated while skin that stands up indicates that your dog is dehydrated. 

Check out this video for more information.

Six ways to re-hydrate a dog that won’t drink water

Dogs that are dehydrated can be quickly rehydrated by drinking water.

If your dog has been lying in the sun for too long or hasnot been able to access its water bowl for a few hours a fresh bowl of water will be heaven!

Other dogs with dehydration do not seem to be interested in a bowl of fresh water at all.

As a result what else can you do but run around in a blind panic?

This list is arranged in a certain order starting with the simplest cheapest and quickest tips and then moving on to more complex solutions

Thoroughly wash and clean the water bowl

Try using hot water and dish soap if your dog isnot refusing to drink and you havenot thoroughly cleaned their bowl. 

Use a different bowl or a water fountain

The bowl might need to be changed if cleaning isnot enough. You may want to consider switching to a porcelain bowl if your water bowl is stainless steel. 

Or vice versa. 

You could also use a water fountain if you have one. You could also use a spray bottle if it is clean. Its almost like you’re turning drinking into a game…

Add ice cubes

Making drinking more exciting by mixing things up. 

Adding some ice cubes to the water bowl will make your dog want to chase them around before he munches on them. 

Flavour the water

To make your dogs water more interesting and healthy prepare a broth. 

Bones are boiled in water for hours on end to create broth a type of soup.

However thats exactly where the problem lies.

How many of us have a batch of broth ready to go in our fridge or freezer for when our dog is dehydrated?

Its highly unlikely that will happen. Stock cubes can be added to water as a shortcut but be aware of how much salt they contain.

Feed them canned food or raw meat

The fourth idea is to feed them a can of dog food or a packet of raw meat. 

Did you know that food cans may contain up to 80% water?

Isnot it true that something like beef mince is about 75% water?

When a dog needs a bit of moisture how can it resist such things?


Then you are very close to calling your veterinarian if you need to hydrate your dog with a syringe. 

The use of syringes must be done carefully so I have chosen a video for you to watch. 

Despite the video showing a dog being syringe-fed food it is about the same as using a syringe to “feed your dog” water. 

Here it is:

Visit the vet

Last but not least I have chosen the most serious option.

While some of the other suggestions in my list might seem frivolous this one isnot.

Visits to the vet are the nuclear option but if your dog exhibits actual signs of prolonged dehydration (as outlined above) then you should call your local veterinarian immediately. 

Four reasons why dogs stop drinking

In the short term a dog may suddenly stop drinking for any number of reasons.

Dogs that stop drinking after a few days need to be taken to a vet because they may have a serious underlying illness.


The most obvious sign is if your dog has recently been sick and has diarrhea.

It is possible for someone to feel nauseous and not want to drink because they believe it will all come back up. 

Sore mouth

The more obvious one is that their mouths are sore and they have difficulty drinking water. 

Maybe they have a sore or broken tooth or a cut in their mouth.

Identifying the cause of the pain should be easy with a quick visual inspection. 

Water tastes different

They’re funny dogs- or at least my two are. 

Even the smallest things can upset them.

The taste of their water might cause some dogs to stop drinking.

Water tastes different wherever you live of course. 

Consequently if you move to a new area where the water tastes different this may negatively affect your dog for a short period of time.

With my cups of tea I can be like this…

Despite living only thirty miles away from us the water in her town had a completely different taste which rendered any cups of tea I drank tastelessly! 

Dirty water

The water of some dogs is dirty which is another reason they suddenly stop drinking. 

Water might not have been refilled in a while or there might be too much drawl or food bits floating around in it.

As we are on the subject of a dogs drinking water let me tell you how dangerous some dog bowls can be.

How clean is your dog’s water bowl?

According to this study some dog water bowls contain bacteria like MRSA E Coli and salmonella.

Our dogs can die from any of these conditions.

Humans can also contract all of these diseases from dogs.

In addition this study showed that pet bowls were among the germiest objects in the home even more dangerous than a toilet. 

The article emphasizes the importance of washing out our water bowls with hot water and dish soap at least every day.

It is recommended that the best material to use for a water bowl is good quality stainless steel since it is much more germ-resistant. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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