By: Dr. Juli, DVM @itsDrJuli
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time for pet owners. Puppies have endless energy as they explore the world, enjoy play sessions, and attempt to chew anything and everything in sight. Your puppy is likely a champion napper, making them the best snuggle buddy. Puppyhood goes by quickly, and proper nutrition and hydration are critical to ensure they grow into healthy adult dogs.
Like humans, your puppy’s body is more than 60% water. So ensuring they are hydrated will aid their growing and developing bodies. Understanding your puppy’s water intake requirements is also a key component of responsible pet ownership.
Why is Water So Important for Growing Puppies?
Water is a critical component in your puppy’s development and overall health. As your puppy grows, having regular access to water will ensure your dog’s body can perform the necessary functions to develop into a healthy adult dog. Staying hydrated through all life stages will ensure your pet’s body will function like a well-oiled machine.
Water supports numerous body functions, including:
- Lubrication of joints and tissues
- Body temperature regulation
- Healthy blood flow to oxygenate organs and tissues
- Metabolic support
- Clearing toxins from the body and eliminating waste
- Support of biochemical reactions
- Digestive support
- Brain function support
How Much Water Should Your Dog Drink on a Daily Basis?
The amount of water your puppy requires depends on several factors, including activity level, environmental temperature, humidity, size, and diet. Newborn and unweaned puppies rely on their mother’s milk for their primary water source. However, as your puppy ages, their water intake needs will increase.
Young puppies still weaning should drink about ½ cup (4 oz) of water every two hours. More than this may lead to excessive urination - which is the last thing you want when your puppy isn’t housebroken yet. Generally, weaned puppies should drink ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. For example, a ten-pound puppy should drink 5 to 10 ounces of water daily - or just over one cup of water. Similarly, adult dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. Pets who frequently exercise, live in a warmer climate, or have a primarily kibble-based diet will likely require more water.
How Much Water Should Your Puppy Drink While Potty Training?
Just as your puppy’s bones grow, their organs become stronger. Most puppies lack complete bladder control until they are approximately nine months old. Potty training requires ample time, patience, and praise. Your puppy should always have access to water when they are awake.
A good rule of thumb is to take your puppy outside to potty 10 to 30 minutes after they drink water. However, during the potty training period, your puppy’s water bowl should be removed two to three hours before bedtime. This will allow your puppy to rest and decrease the chances of needing a bathroom break in the middle of the night. A consistent time and routine will ensure that potty training efforts are successful. Once your puppy is potty trained, a bowl of fresh water should always be available.
Puppy Dehydration: Know the Signs
Adult dogs require less water than puppies. Young dogs have an increased risk for dehydration, which can be deadly if not immediately addressed. Drinking water is instinctual for your pet. Most healthy puppies will not suffer dehydration if they have regular access to clean water. However, puppies with an underlying health problem that causes a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive panting are at risk for fluid loss and dehydration.
Unless directed by your veterinarian, measuring your puppy’s daily water intake is unnecessary. However, you should be able to recognize dehydration signs to know when to seek immediate care from your DVM. Signs of dehydration include:
- Appetite loss
- Sunken eyes
- Excessive panting
- Dry, sticky gums
- Decreased skin elasticity (i.e., skin that tents or does not immediately snap back to the body after being gently pulled up)
- Increased heart rate
- Weak pulse
Can Your Puppy Drink Too Much Water?
Although water is essential for your puppy’s overall well-being, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Excessive drinking can lead to overhydration, or water intoxication, a life-threatening condition in dogs. Dogs who ingest too much water are at risk for low sodium or hyponatremia. Low sodium can cause your dog’s cells to retain moisture, leading to brain swelling and nervous system problems. Swimming is the most common culprit for water intoxication because of accidental water ingestion.
Immediately seek veterinary care if your puppy has any of the following water intoxication signs:
- Pale gums
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excess salivation
- Staggering or loss of coordination
- Dilated pupils
Puppies with excessive thirst, or polydipsia, are also at risk for water intoxication. Causes of polydipsia include diabetes, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, bladder infections, and certain medications, like corticosteroids.
How to Encourage Your Pup to Drink More Water
Monitoring your puppy’s water intake and learning their specific water requirements is the best way to prevent them from dehydrating or overhydrating. Some puppy breeds may not be enthusiastic water drinkers, so follow these tips to ensure your puppy drinks the appropriate amount of water:
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure, which can lead to dehydration.
- Clean food and water bowls daily to prevent bacterial infection, which can cause dehydration.
- Place your dog’s water bowls in easily accessible locations.
- Provide fresh, clean water daily.
- Try adding Bone Broth to their dog food to encourage water intake.
- Feed your puppy ice cubes for a refreshing, hydrating treat.
- Combine dry food and wet food or a more hydrating diet.
If you are concerned that your puppy drinks too much or not enough water, don’t hesitate to bring them for a veterinary examination. Your veterinarian will weigh your puppy and check their overall health and hydration.
Check out the Native Pet blog for more health and wellness tips for your four-legged best friend.