Keeping your active dog hydrated during the summer heat is really important. Activities like trail running or hiking combined with high temperatures and humidity can make it difficult for dogs to stay hydrated. Higher elevations can also increase a dog’s risk of dehydration. So how do you determine how much water your dog should drink?
Let’s first put water consumption into perspective. It’s helpful to know, for example, that a 44 lb. dog can lose between 0.5 and 1.5 gallons of water per day depending on their size, activity and the environmental conditions.1 At a minimum, an active dog should consume as much water as they’re losing. But 0.5 to 1.5 gallons is a pretty wide range.
To get to a more specific number, one rule of thumb is to calculate their water intake through food consumption. Simply multiply the number of cups of dry food offered daily by three cups. So, three cups of food would mean a dog should drink nine cups (a little over 0.5 gallon) of water, and so on. Keep in mind that this target is the minimum amount of water an active dog should drink each day when exercising outside. This amount or more will help reduce the risk of dehydration but may not prevent it.
In hot climates, consider prehydrating your dog three to five days leading up to an outdoor activity. One way to prehydrate is to add water to his food at a 1:1 ratio and feed immediately so the kibble doesn’t soak up the water. Another strategy is water baiting or adding a small heap (1-2 tablespoons) of wet food to the bottom of a bowl and fill with water. Most dogs will gladly consume the water to reach the food.
Whether you’re hitting the trails or participating in other outdoor summer activities with your dog, remember to always bring plenty of cool water for him to drink. Avoid letting your dog drink from mud puddles or consuming saltwater. According to Dr. Jill Cline, the Site Director for Eukanuba’s™ Pet Health & Nutrition Center, “Cooling off in a mud puddle is ok, but drinking from it can cause illness. Bacteria and protozoa found in the standing mud puddles cause Giardia and diarrhea. And there is no telling what kind of toxins are in those puddles. Run off may contain weed killer or fertilizer used in nearby fields. If you’re at the beach, don’t let your dog drink saltwater. The salt in the water is a dehydrator and drinking enough of it can shut down his kidneys."
Take frequent breaks from your outdoor activities to let your dog rest in the shade and hydrate. If you notice a pasty saliva along his gums and tongue, be sure to rinse out his mouth. He could be showing early signs of a heat related illness (HRI) such as heat stress.
To learn more about how to recognize the signs of heat related illness (HRI) and the steps to take if your dog overheats, visit Eukanuba.com/HRI.