How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

We understand being a dog parent can be stressful at times. Especially when you have to leave your loveable pooch behind to make a living. And, the one thing that concerns dog owners more than anything is proper nutrition. In fact, some pet parents even reach out inquiring about how long a dog can go without water.

Don’t worry, though. We’re not going to judge you for raising this question. We know you’re only anxious about your canine’s well-being in your absence.

That’s why we’ll walk you through how to spot and avoid dehydration in this article. And, we’ll also throw in some effective pro-tips about how to keep your pooch hydrated for good measure. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the read.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water and Not Be Affected?

This section will discuss the problems your pet may develop due to dehydration. And, while this may be a difficult read for many – think of it as a cautionary tale. Ready?

It’s painful and heartbreaking to even imagine your dog suffering from any type of distress. However, sometimes it’s necessary to be aware of how things can go wrong, to make sure it doesn’t happen.

A good rule to remember in terms of canine hydration is to give your pet at least one ounce of water for every pound it weighs. If your hound weighs around 30 pounds, you’ll have to make sure it drinks at least 30 ounces of water throughout the day.

However, because dogs are active creatures, and love running around, they can lose water pretty quickly as well – be it from panting or urination. And, excess loss of water can lead to serious health complications for your pet.

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There’s no clear-cut answer for how long dogs can go without water. It all depends on the canine’s breed, health, underlying medical conditions, etc. Still, experts estimate that a healthy dog can survive up to 3 days without water. Although, that doesn’t mean it won’t face any ill-effects.

As a matter of fact, a dog will likely begin to show the symptoms of dehydration after 24 hours. As dehydration persists, more serious signs will unfold:

  • 24 Hours Without Water

After one entire day without water, a canine will be searching for a water source to quench its thirst. If the dog remains unsuccessful in finding water, it may start to show signs of lethargy and can struggle to maintain its body temperature.

  • 48 Hours Without Water

After 48 hours of dehydration, a canine will exhibit more obvious signs of frailty. Its mobility will likely be affected due to increased thirst, and a general sense of weakness will set in.

  • 72 Hours Without Water

After three days of surviving without water, a dog will appear extremely weak and unalert. Continuous dehydration can lead to a loss of blood volume and make the blood thicker.

This makes the heart work harder to pump blood and can cause dizziness. At this point, the canine’s health is in critical condition and needs immediate medical attention.

How Important Is Water for Dogs?

Before we get down to discussing dehydration and the problems it can cause, let’s focus on the importance of water. It’s a well-known fact that water is essential for the survival of all living things. Remember that joke about people being anxious cucumbers because of our internal water content?

Well, Cynthia Otto (a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine) states that a dog’s body consists of 80% water.

Here are a few reasons why you need to stay on top of your game as far as your dog’s drinking habits are concerned.

1. Effective Digestion

Water plays an essential role in a dog’s digestive process. First off, it helps the body break down the food that it ingests.

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On the other hand, water also helps your dog’s organs in secreting digestive enzymes and acids. These enzymes are crucial when it comes to nutrient absorption. If your dog doesn’t get the required water intake – it can face problems like indigestion or lethargy.

2. Removal of Toxins

Blood helps transport oxygen and nutrients throughout your canine’s body, and water is a huge component of blood. This means water is pretty important for nutrition because it helps enrich the body with the sustenance it needs.

On the flip side, water also plays a major role in eliminating toxins from your pet’s body through waste. Whenever your canine urinates or takes a poo, its body rids itself of the build-up of harmful substances. And, water makes sure this process happens effortlessly.

3. Body Temperature Regulation

Humans sweat to control their body temperature. Thankfully, that works out pretty well for us, you know, because we’re not covered in fur.

On the other hand, nature is freaking awesome, dogs have sweat glands in their ear canals and on the pads of their feet. However, because that doesn’t cover many areas, dogs make use of panting to get rid of excess body heat.

You see panting speeds up the cooling process through the evaporation of water. And, it’s just another brilliant way your furball’s body utilizes water to remain healthy.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water

Main Causes for Dehydration

Although one of the likeliest culprits behind canine dehydration is overheating and sweating (through the paws), there are a few other possible causes you should be aware of.

Generally, inadequate hydration, along with external factors like dry weather or vigorous activity, can also bring on a mild bout of dehydration. And, dehydration brought on by insufficient fluid intake is possible at all times – even during the winter.

Certain health conditions can also result in your furry companion feeling more parched than usual. For example, diarrhea or vomiting can cause a rapid loss of fluids. For this reason, if your dog is suffering from either of these concerns, be extra vigilant about hydration.

And, if at any time you feel that your canine is turning lethargic, take it to your vet immediately. This is because the loss of fluid via vomiting or diarrhea can turn serious very quickly if not tackled with care.

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Chronic health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease can also contribute to dehydration in dogs. And, of course, if your pet is in its twilight years or is very young, it’s more vulnerable to dehydration due to its age.

Symptoms of Thirst – How to Tell If Your Dog Is Dehydrated?

Trust us when we say, it’s just as difficult to write about how long a dog can go without water as it is to read about it. However, you’ll be happy to know that the worst is over.

Now, we’re going to focus on the symptoms of excessive thirst in canines, and how you can act quickly to make sure your pup stays out of the danger zone.

For working dog parents, it’s important to remember that a dog can safely go without water for 6 to 10 hours. That means you’ll have plenty of time to pick up on the symptoms of your pet’s thirst, even if you’re at work.

Here are some of the most pertinent signs of dehydration in canines:

  • Excessive panting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Sunken-in eyes
  • Dry nose
  • Dry and/or sticky gums

How to Test Your Canine for Dehydration?

Depending on your pet’s powers of endurance, it’s possible that a canine may not always show obvious symptoms of dehydration.

However, your fluffy pal can still suffer from thirst without any health-related cause due to the weather. For instance, your canine’s body will make use of panting to regulate its body heat. And that means your puppy can get dehydrated just trying to keep its cool.

That’s why it’s a good idea for you to know the basic ways of testing canines for dehydration.

1. The Skin Elasticity Test

According to Dr. Jeff Klien (the chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club), one of the easiest examinations for dehydration for dog owners to perform is the skin elasticity test.

You can check your furball for dehydration, by holding its skin (near its shoulder blades), gently raise it, and then let go to carefully observe how the skin falls back into place.

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If your pet is suffering from dehydration, its skin will take time to settle back into place. The skin of well-hydrated pooches will fall back into place immediately.

2. The Capillary Refill Test

You can also check your dog’s hydration level by examining its gums. Simply lift your pooch’s flews gently and lightly press your finger on its gums for a few seconds and then remove your finger.

If your dog is suffering from dehydration, the area you pressed will take time in returning to its natural pink color. In hydrated dogs, the capillaries present in your pet’s gums will fill with blood almost immediately.

Another sign you should watch out for while conducting this test is dry or sticky gums. If your pet is parched, one of the first signs is a dry mouth.

3. The Nose Test

A lot of dog parents prefer gauging their pet’s need for water by examining their pet’s nose. Dogs are known to keep their noses moist by licking them regularly.

But, a dry nose doesn’t always mean your furbaby is suffering dehydration. Sometimes the weather can make your pet’s nose feel a bit dry.

However, if you notice the skin of your canine’s nose is flaky or cracked – that’s a pretty good indicator of your pet needing more water.

Inventive Ways to Keep Your Dog Hydrated

This is our favorite part – because we finally get to help you and your dog. Contrary to popular belief, keeping a track of your dog’s water intake isn’t all that difficult. And, what’s more, you can take advantage of our slick pro-tips to make sure water isn’t the only thing keeping your pet hydrated. Here’s how.

1. Add to Your Dog’s Water Bowl Collection

We know that you know dogs love tipping over bowls. This is one of the reasons why it’s a smart idea to have more than one water bowl around the house.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Increase your doggy’s chances of quenching its thirst by placing a water bowl outside your house as well. Although, make sure you keep it an area that provides some sort of cover from accumulating dust or debris.

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2. Offer Your Dog a Watermelon Treat

There’s an entire list of fruits that canines can and cannot eat. Thankfully, not only can dogs eat watermelon, but most dogs love this fruit. However, be sure to remove the seeds and rind and to serve the fruit in bite-sized pieces.

Watermelon is an excellent way to provide your furbaby with some tasty hydration. And, it doesn’t hurt that watermelons are jam-packed with vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C. Not to mention, you can stick the watermelon pieces in the freezer for a while, and offer your pooch a frozen treat on hot sunny days. It’s a win-win situation.

3. Brew Some Bone Broth for Your Furry Best Friend

Did you know that bone broth is an excellent way to provide your pooch with hydration along with essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, etc?

If your canine eats dry or canned food daily, then bone broth is a smart way to introduce natural minerals to its diet that can help combat lethargy, muscle contractions, nerve signaling, and more. And, this easy to make treat is also highly recommended for winters – to help canines conserve their body heat better.


Proper hydration plays a major role in canine health and wellness, and it’s always an issue of concern for busy pet parents. That’s mostly why people are anxious to know how long dogs can go without water.

However, you can put your stressed mind at ease, because if your dog is healthy it can go without water for a few hours. Nonetheless, we recommend that you keep multiple bowls of water around your house to avoid any chance of dehydration.

Also, remember that regular visits to the vet are the most reliable way to keep track of your doggo’s health. And, they can also help in the early detection of any developing health condition – which is vital for your pet to make a swift and full recovery!

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