How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water Signs to Watch For

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water

So how long can a dog really go without water?  A lot of new pet owners have questions like this about their first dog.  If this is you,  I’d firstly like to welcome you to the new world of dog ownership!  The years to come will hopefully be filled with joy and laughter as your new pup settles in and you wonder how life got on before them.

With a new pet,  comes new pleasures but also responsibility.  If you find yourself struggling,  I suggest checking out some of the information covered in this article as well as a few other reference links I will include throughout.

>>New to Dog Ownership?  Check This Guide out<<

How Long Can Dogs Survive Without Water?

The short response would be 2 or 3 days time.  This answer will largely depend on the type of dog and how well hydrated they were to begin with.  If your pet isn’t drinking,  this is one of the first signs that something may be wrong.  The list of possible causes can be endless and I will cover more on that in the next section.  Suffice it to say that if your dog hasn’t had any water for about 24 hours,  It’s time to take some action.

Pro Tip:  Your dog should generally always have a wet nose and mouth unless they are sick or dehydrated. 

Dehydration In Dogs.  What Causes It?

Dogs can be dehydrated for many reasons.  I’m going to list some of the main ones I’ve come across in my own experiences.

Dehydrated Dog


This one can be easily overlooked but widely applies to a number of situations.  A few sources of stress could be:

  • Bad Weather
  • Illness
  • Extreme Heat or Cold
  • Loud Noises (fireworks)
  • Trips to the Vet
  • Dietary Changes
  • Other Humans or Animals

Generally when a dog is in a heightened state of anxiety or stress, they shut down all but the most basic of needs and wait until the stressors have passed before resuming normal activities.  A great example of this would be a bad thunderstorm.  Most animals I’ve had over the years react very badly to thunder and lightning.  Usually, when these storms are occurring my pets would either jump in my lap or go hide somewhere until the storm had passed.  They aren’t thinking about food or hydration just an instinctive need to survive.

The same types of responses can happen with things as simple as a change in diet.  Sometimes,  animals can be picky!  If your dog becomes accustomed to a certain routine around food and this changes, your pup may be thrown for a loop and choose to abstain from food or water. This could continue until the balance has been restored in their eyes.  you can get this done by adding a little something special (treat, attention etc.)  Into their routine to help get them back on track.

My dog always knows when a trip to the vet is coming.  This once again can cause a significant but temporary change in a pet’s level of stress causing them to shut down.  I’ve seen my dog go hide in her crate hours before a vet visit.  Our pet’s have a sixth sense about some of these things and tend to be more sensitive to some stressors over others.  If this is the case, just help them through it with a little encouragement or extra attention.  Before you know it, they will be back to their happy go lucky ways.

Health Issues

I’m referring to chronic conditions and temporary illness here.  Some of the main culprits can be:

  • Diabetes
  • Parvo
  • Heat Stroke
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

The most serious one to watch for here would be excessive vomiting or diarrhea.  this will cause dehydration very quickly and make a situation go from bad to worse in an instant.  Until you know your dog well enough to determine what may be causing this, I always suggest going to a vet if it persists for more than a period of 24 hours and the dog isn’t replenishing fluids or keeping them down.

For more chronic conditions like diabetes, careful adherence to the prescribed medication is usually the main factor.  It can be a real pain trying to give a dog any medication and this can go double for some of the diabetes treatments.  Usually this can be well managed by diet as well but if you notice your dog’s hydration needs changing after a diagnosis, make sure to have plenty of water on hand until you have a better feel for it.

Heat stroke in dogs can be very dangerous as well. There are no hard and fast rules for detection here but there are several preventative measures we can take as dog owners to severely limit the risk of exposure.  On hot days, keep your pet out of direct sunlight for long periods of time.  A great option here is to take a dog for a walk during dawn or dusk in the hottest part of the year.  Dogs will naturally seek out shade if available as well.  If you see a dog moving to a shaded area, it’s because they are getting hot.  Make sure to have a water source readily available.  Never leave any animal in a hot car as well.  Dog’s are unable to sweat as we do and they will overheat much faster trapped in a situation like a hot car.

Oral Injury

When I was a teenager,  my dog once got a splinter in his mouth.  Wouldn’t eat or drink anything for almost 2 days.  Naturally I got worried and took him to the vet.  This is where we discovered the splinter and had it removed.   My dog still didn’t want to eat or drink because of the pain.  The vet ended up keeping him overnight for observation and an IV drip to get his hydration back under control.

I thought this was a rare occurrence but since that time I’ve learned that many other friends and fellow pet owners have described similar issues with their pets.  Wanted to mention here in case you notice an abrupt change and would like to check for and hopefully remove any splinter or debris from your pets mouth before it becomes an over night stay at the doggie hospital!

New to my site?  Maybe some of my other articles can help you out  Check here to learn more about Controlling Dog BarkingCheck Here to learn more about Curbing Your Dog

Dehydration In Dogs.  What Are The Signs?

Dog Sick

So now we know that dogs get dehydrated and what some of the common causes can be.  What are the signs of dehydration in dogs and how can we pick up on them?

A dry mouth and nose on a dog is always an indicator that something is out of whack.  This can be one of the first things to look for if you feel like your dog may be acting off.  Excessive sleep or abnormal behavior out of your dogs regular patterns are also great ways to pick up on early warning signs.

Dogs are generally creatures of habit.  These habits will also play out when they are feeling less than 100%.  Constant vigilance when it comes to your pup and how they are acting is a great preventative measure when assessing your animal’s current state and whether they need intervention from you or not.

A few other signs that your dog may exhibit are:

  • Excessive Panting:  This could be due to overheating as discussed above
  • Lethargy:  Perhaps from an illness
  • Sunken Eyes:  If you notice your dogs visage looks a bit off, this is a great place to focus in on while you are checking their nose and mouth for wetness
  • Lack of Appetite:  Generally if a dog isn’t drinking, they aren’t eating as well.  These two tend to be symbiotic in nature and makes it a valuable thing to watch for

How to Re-hydrate a Dog

So if we are able to catch a dog at the beginning stages of dehydration, can we re-hydrate them before any serious harm is caused?  The answer can definitely vary depending on the reason the dog started to dehydrate.

Maybe it’s something simple like a slightly overheated dog. The best thing to do would be to take them out of the environment they are currently in and get them some water!  If they begin to eagerly lap it up and start to perk up after a few minutes, problem solved.

The problem may be caused by an illness or medical issue, I would strongly suggest consulting your local vet or vet hospital.  They should hopefully have your dog’s medical records handy and be able to provide instructions on next steps.  Sometimes, this can involve an office visit for an iv drip to be placed or a home remedy may be offered if the situation isn’t life threatening.

The important thing to remember about re-hydrating a dog is not to try and force it to drink.  This isn’t going to resolve the issue.  Finding the root cause and solving it should.

Avoiding Dehydration in Dogs

As new dog owners or as experienced owners with a new puppy, certain steps can be taken early on to help avoid unnecessary dehydration in dogs.  This can be particularly critical in the first stages of a dog’s life in your home.  Establishing where water can be accessed for your pup (IE. the water bowl and not the toilet 😁)  Will make things easier in the long run.  Here are a few other tips to help keep proper hydration with your dog.

Dog Re-hydration

Always have a bowl of water available

It’s important to make sure that your dog always has access to a clean source of reliable water.  Sometimes mistakes like moving a water bowl or forgetting to check it a few times a day can cause distress and even dehydration itself if not addressed.

Bring Water With You On Walks

One of the main reasons dogs become dehydrated in the first place is excitement and lack of water while out on a long walk.  Whenever I walk my dog,  I’m always sure to bring a small travel bowl and bottle of water to provide my pup with a little hydration when needed.  I usually go walking with him for at least an hour and will offer the water bowl every 10-15 minutes.  Sometimes he won’t drink at all and other times he might drain the bowl.  Other factors will come into play here such as heat, excitement, pace, etc..  The key thing is to remember to offer them a drink in the first place.  If your pup needs hydration and everything else is ok,  the only prompt they will need is the water itself.

Be Aware of Hydration Levels

The average dog needs to drink between .5oz to 1oz of water per pound of body weight.  For example, a 10 pound dog should drink in the neighborhood of 10 ounces a day.  This can greatly vary due to activity level and temperature.  I would use this as a good rule of thumb moving forward but double checking with your vet is always a good idea and strongly recommended as well.

In Closing, How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water

2-3 days is generally agreed upon by most experts.  Remember to take action if you notice anything longer than a day or so.  Something as simple as a call to the vet to explain some symptoms and get some clarity might save your dog a great deal of pain or discomfort.  I’ve had to take many of my pets to the vet over the years and even routine check ups aren’t usually an enjoyable experience for you or your dog.

If you are newer to pet ownership maybe you still have a few questions.  Questions are the beginning of knowledge as they say and I’d like to provide you with another resource which can aid you in your search for answers. Please check out this guide to learn more about dogs in general and how to fit them into your ever changing life.






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