Dogs are made up of around 70% water and it supports every bodily function.

Without an adequate supply, dogs become dehydrated and seriously ill. This blog by canine expert Caroline Hearne highlights how vital it is to keep your dog hydrated, how to tell if they’re not and what to do about it. It first appeared on the Hedgerow Hounds website and we reproduce it here with thanks.

Heatwave conditions

In this current hot spell, it is even more important to provide a generous amount of clean, fresh water which helps maintain a normal body temperature and to keep the essential electrolyte balance.

Water bowls

Water bowls need to be scrubbed clean to remove any saliva which quickly builds up and is an environment for bacteria to grow. Newly poured water in a clean bowl is much more inviting to a dog and will encourage them to drink freely.

How much water?

As a guide, a dog needs 1oz of water per 1lb of body weight. There are certain circumstances in which a dog will need more water such as:

  • Very hot weather (3-4 times as much)
  • A bitch that is nursing puppies
  • Kibble-fed dogs will need more water than dogs fed moist food
  • A dog that has a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea and in this heat, it is wise to contact your vet as its essential that they maintain their body fluids.

What if you have to take your dog out in warm weather?

If you have to take your dog out in warm weather then take plenty of water and a water bowl that your dog is familiar with. At shows and competitions there are often bowls left out for dogs to drink from ~ not only is there a potential risk of infection between the dogs but also many dogs refuse to drink, even when thirsty from a communal bowl which is full of others’ saliva and who can blame them.

Leaving your dog at home

If you leave your dog at home while you go out, make sure they have a non-spill bowl, a raised bowl on a stand or a second water bowl elsewhere, then should the water get tipped over there is still another source.

Water in the garden

Fresh water in the garden is also a good idea but remember to bring the bowl in at night or discard the water and scrub clean before allowing the dog to drink from it due to the risk of contamination from wildlife and importantly slugs and snails which may visit it overnight and possibly be carrying lungworm.

Signs of dehydration

Signs of dehydration are the dog being:

  • Very listless
  • Dull sunken eyes
  • Dry, tacky gums and nose
  • Absence of or  passing very dark urine
  • Unsteady gait, or
  • Even collapse.

Testing for dehydration

Along with the above symptoms, there are a couple of ways of testing for dehydration in your dog. One is to press lightly on the gums and as you remove your finger the pink colour should return within a couple of seconds.

Another way is to lift a fold of skin up between the dog’s shoulder blades and then release it. If the dog is dehydrated then the skin will slowly return to normal or may even stay upright.

Any of these symptoms would require immediate care from a vet for a successful outcome and full recovery of the dog

Encouraging more fluid intake

For dogs that are not big drinkers, you may need to encourage them to take more fluids in hot weather. This can be done by blending ingredients naturally high in moisture and either offering it to them or stirring it into their food. The smoothie shown in the picture below, using watermelon, lettuce, chard, spinach and berries blended with water, can also be made into a dog-friendly ice lolly or frozen into Kongs etc.

Also good is bone broth (homemade or shop-bought) diluted with water which can tempt even the fussiest drinker to consume more fluids.

Smoothie ingredients

Here’s to keeping cool and hydrated in the hot weather!

Useful links

Keeping Animlas Safe in Hot Weather

Caroline Hearn, MICHT, Dip. ICAT

Caroline is a Member of IAAT, the International Association of Animal Therapists. She is a sports, remedial and holistic massage therapist qualified to treat canine, equine, and human patients. Caroline has a lifelong obsession with dogs, a passion for holistic healthcare and natural nutrition, and a love for foraging in the countryside; all of which lead her to form the company Hedgerow Hounds which makes veterinary-approved nutritive herbal blends for dogs and other natural healthcare products. She has recently developed Hedgerow Horse.

Caroline also writes regularly for the holistic magazine Edition Dog and covers subjects such as raw feeding, canine therapies and the progress of the herbal sensory garden she created for her dogs.

Links for more information:

This blog appeared on the Hedgerow Hounds website in July 2022. CAM4animals has no responsibility for any changes made to the original blog.

Disclaimer – Where blogs have been created by a guest author, CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information

This blog may also contain an element of consumer opinionWhilst CAM4animals welcomes positive recommendations for holistic healthcare products, we don’t necessarily endorse the product or the author’s opinion. We acknowledge that each animal is an individual and may react differently to the highlighted product/s. There may also be other products available that produce similarly positive results.

The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website