Most of us fill the water bowl each day, but probably have no idea how much water our dogs actually drink. Is it enough? Too much?
Thankfully dogs are pretty good at regulating their own water intake. A healthy dog will drink when she is thirsty and stop when she's had enough. All you have to do is provide availability to clean, fresh water and they'll do the rest. You can also perform a simple check for dehydration by lifting a piece of skin on the back of a dog's neck and letting go. If the skin remains raised and is slow to bounce back, your dog needs more water, whereas a quick return indicates sufficient hydration.
Generally speaking, dogs need between a half and full ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. (That's 2.5 to 5 cups of water for a 40-pound dog.) It's a pretty wide range, mostly because variations in activity levels, temperatures, diet and health can affect your dog's thirst.
Your dog might need more water if...
...she's very active. A dog that's running around outdoors all day will need more water, and it's key to replenish clean water frequently because if the bowl is dry, instinct could lead your dog to other potentially unsafe sources like ponds, sprinklers, or pools.
...it's hot outside. Just like with humans, warm temps increase thirst, so an outdoor water bowl is always a good idea during the summer—even for a low-energy dog who spends the afternoon watching grass grow. And always have water on hand when you and your dog are out and about. (We love this hack for transforming a clean poop bag into an impromptu bowl.)
...she eats dry food. Dogs on a dry kibble diet tend to need more water, not only because the food is dry but it's also high in water-sopping starches.
...she's sick or on medication. Dogs who are ill or recovering from illness often need more water, and some medications tend to dehydrate or give pups a dry mouth.
...she's a mama or a puppy. Puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs require more water to support their growing and changing bodies.
Your dog might need less water if...
...she's on a wet food diet. See above. Since there is water in the food itself and it is likely to be less starch-heavy, your pup will probably be less thirsty.
...your dog snacks on fruits or vegetables. Fresh produce has a high water content that can help keep your dog hydrated.
...your dog has a low activity level and stays indoors all day. Air conditioning and a soft spot on the sofa make for a less thirsty dog.
Either way, refresh your pup's water bowl throughout the day and rinse it out to remove backwash. (Hey, dogs have standards too.) If your pup seems perpetually dehydrated, or seems to drink water excessively, contact your vet because it could indicate an underlying health problem like diabetes.