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Is your puppy drinking enough water?

The essentials

  • Housetraining necessitates a water schedule — Taking away food and water 2 to 3 hours before bedtime will assist your house training efforts. 
  • Everything in moderation — While dehydration is certainly a more common issue, drinking too much water can also be dangerous for your dog. 
  • Monitor your dog’s water intake — Knowing roughly how much water your dog drinks every day gives you clues to their overall health.

Water is essential for life, so it’s important to keep an eye on your puppy’s drinking habits to maintain proper hydration. Puppies need between one-half and one ounce of water per pound of body weight on average each day. This is a broad range, and how much your dog needs changes depending on a variety of factors, such as their activity level and the weather. 

Watching how much they’re drinking — and learning how to detect the signs of dehydration or water intoxication — can help you catch health problems early and prevent disasters down the road.

How much water should a puppy drink?

Nursing puppies fulfill their water intake through their mother’s milk. However, as soon as they start the weaning process, (which usually occurs between 3 and 4 weeks old), they’ll need a pretty constant supply of water to keep them hydrated. 

Puppies under 12 weeks old need a middle-of-the-night break to drink water and go potty. Older puppies might be able to go all night without water, but they’ll still need to drink plenty throughout the day. 

Like adult dogs, puppies require between one-half ounce and one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. They may need even more water than that on days when they’ve run more zoomies or played outside in the hot sun. 

Puppies need more access to drinking water than adult dogs because their bodies are smaller. Their metabolism requires consistent, modest portions of food and water to thrive, especially since their kidneys process water faster than they do in adults.

Creating a water schedule for your puppy

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your pup stays hydrated and healthy: 

  • Adjust according to age. It’s generally a good idea to give housetrained, adult dogs 24/7 access to clean, fresh water.  However, young puppies who are still crate training shouldn’t have any water in the 2 to 3 hours leading up to their bedtime. 
  • Keep their crate training schedule in mind. It’s a good idea to encourage your puppy to drink a lot a couple of hours before you leave the house so that they have time to relieve themselves before going to their crate. 
  • Maintain realistic expectations. Your puppy can’t hold their bladder like an adult dog can. They’ll need more frequent potty breaks (every 2-3 hours).

👉 Pro tip: Puppies under 9 months usually need to urinate within 10 to 30 minutes after drinking water. If you see them heading towards the water bowl, plan to take them outside or encourage them to use a training pad in the next 15 minutes.

Even after they’re housebroken, some pet parents prefer not to leave a water dish in their crate. It can create a temptation to drink too much water while you’re gone, which puts them in a painful position since they can’t relieve themselves. At the very least, it enables them to make a very big mess since they could knock over the dish. 

However, you should never leave a puppy in the crate for longer than an hour or two. If you anticipate leaving your adult dog for an entire work shift, make sure the water goes in the crate with them so they don’t dehydrate. A spill-proof water bowl that’s made for crate training can help prevent messes.

Most dogs drink enough water on their own, but it can still be helpful to bring them to their water bowl and encourage them to hydrate every couple of hours, especially if they’re super young, newly adopted, or have recently moved.

Why do puppies drink so much water?

Your puppy’s body controls their temperature, digestion, and neurological processes, and flushes out toxins. While an adult dog’s body does these things, too, puppies are much more fragile due to their small size and undeveloped organs. Drinking enough water is vital for your puppy to be able to perform all of these processes safely. 

Signs of dehydration in puppies

While dehydration can occur at any time, eating dry food without drinking enough water and exercising in extremely cold or hot temperatures are some of the biggest culprits. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can also put your puppy at risk. 

Some general signs that your dog may be dehydrated include pale gums, lethargy, and excessive panting. You can quickly test to see if your dog is dehydrated by checking the color of their gums.

Unless you have a chow chow or another breed with unusually colored gums, your dog’s gums should normally be bright pink. 

How to check for dehydration in your pup

  1. Fold back your dog’s lips and gently press your finger on the part of their gums just above their teeth. This temporarily reduces the blood flow, which turns their gums slightly pale. 
  2. After you do this, release your finger and watch. The blood should return to your dog’s gums within 2 seconds, which will result in the salmon pink color. 
  3. If their gums remain white or pale pink after 3 seconds, or if they feel sticky, they might be dehydrated.

🚨 Pale gums often signal serious health problems, such as anemia or severe dehydration. Always call your vet if your dog’s gums feel sticky or have suddenly changed from their normal color. 

How to encourage your dog to drink more water

If you notice your dog doesn’t drink as much water as they should, you might consider investing in a water fountain. Like cats, some dogs might be attracted to running water. Why? Experts believe that it could be rooted in evolutionary survival techniques,  since stagnant water poses a higher threat of bacterial contamination, especially in hot weather. 

In addition to your dog’s water bowl, you can also give them alternative water sources — such as dog-friendly frozen treats or chunks of watermelon (with no seeds). Dry dog food can also dehydrate. If your pup is on a dry food diet, it may be helpful to mix in some wet food with their regular meal as an easy way to add some moisture. 

👉 Watch the weather during the summer to determine the best time for your pup to play outside.  Extreme temperatures make it harder for dogs to maintain proper body temperature, making them more susceptible to heat stroke and dehydration.

Signs of water intoxication in puppies

Drinking too much water is a relatively rare problem. Most dogs won’t drink enough water to hurt them, but water intoxication is dangerous when it happens. 

Accidentally gulping huge amounts of water while swimming poses the largest risk of water intoxication in puppies. To keep them safe, watch your puppy while they’re playing in the water, especially since some dogs aren’t good swimmers. 

Some signs of water intoxication include bloating, drooling, lethargy, loss of coordination, pale gums, and vomiting. Water intoxication is a medical emergency, so call the veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog might have ingested too much water and is acting sick. 

Why some dogs drink too much water

It’s one thing if your pup accidentally drinks too much water after a hot day playing in the pool. However, if your dog habitually drinks an excessive amount of water or urinates more than usual, they may have a medical condition like kidney disease , diabetes, or Cushing’s disease. Sudden changes in urination or excessive thirst can also signify a urinary tract infection.

Checking how much water your dog drinks in a day gives you insight into their overall health. Dehydration and water intoxication are both serious health conditions with some preventable risk factors. 

Always call your vet if you notice any disturbing changes in your dog’s eating, drinking, or bathroom habits. Sudden changes in urination or excessive thirst can also signify a urinary tract infection or other problem that needs immediate medical attention. If you live in a warm climate, dehydration can escalate quickly and severe cases can be life-threatening, so call your vet if you suspect signs.

Frequently asked questions

Should I leave water out for my puppy all day?

Dehydration poses bigger health risks for puppies than adults, so it’s important to encourage them to drink throughout the day. However, if you’re still house-training your puppy, it’s best to remove food and water dishes 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to avoid multiple potty trips during the night.

How much water should a puppy drink daily?

A general rule of thumb suggests that puppies need between one-half and one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. There isn’t an exact amount of water though, because it depends on factors like the weather and their activity level. Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water, except for a couple of hours before bedtime if you’re crate training.

Should puppies have free access to water?

Yes, dogs should always have access to fresh, clean water throughout the day to encourage them to stay hydrated. The only time we recommend restricting their water intake would be at night. 

Does an 8-week-old puppy need water at night?

If you have a puppy under 12 weeks old, it’s best to take them out for a brief break in the middle of the night to go potty and drink a sip of water. 

Do puppies usually drink a lot of water?

Yes. Puppies drink water more frequently than adult dogs due to their smaller size and more sensitive bodies.