The quick answer to this question would be a maximum of 3 days.
However, being able to survive without water for up to three days and a healthy dog is not quite synonymous.
You don't want your dog to come close to 3 days without drinking water, ever!
The precise length of time and consequences if dogs go without water will depend on the size of dogs' body, breed, causes of dehydration, etc., but this is for general guidance.
Last Updated: November 29th 2023
What will happen if dogs go without water for three days?
The symptoms will gradually worsen as days without water pass.
Let's say you've maybe left home for a short trip (or gone to work) and forgot to fill your dog's water bowl.
Your dog should be fine on the first day, though it's inevitable it will want to drink water and feel thirst.
But when it figures out that the water bowl is not full and that there are no other sources of water, it will eventually give it up. The dog can go without consequences for the first 24 hours. The one symptom that may occur in this stage is that its activity level lowers, as less blood is flowing through dogs' muscles.
However, the second day is where the dehydration symptoms of lack of water will start to kick in. Some sensitive dogs may suffer from severe - even fatal - consequences if they are deprived of access to water for two days.
Most of the dogs will show warning signs, such as excessive panting, and they'll have sunken eyes, dry nose and gums. Energy loss, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and tremors can also occur at this stage.
The third day without water is fatal for most dogs, regardless of the breed. If they still manage to survive without water, they will probably have collapsed. If you come across a dog in this condition, make sure to take it to the closest veterinarian clinic. They will try to determine the cause of dehydration of your pet and take all the necessary steps to save his life.
Canine who doesn't drink water for longer than three days will probably encounter death. Some breeds may resist four or five days, but at this point, the severity of their state will be very grave.
How Can You Tell If a Dog Is Dehydrated?
This research is a good first step to noticing signs of dehydration with your dog. A dog may not exhibit them straight away, but they will gradually worsen.
Here's how a dehydrated dog looks and acts like:
- Sunken eyes. When dogs don't get enough water, their eyes appear dark, hollow, and sunken (the same goes for cat).
- Skin elasticity. Gently pinch your pet's skin somewhere on the back. It should retract right after you release it. If it doesn't, it's another sign of a lack of moisture content.
- Excessive panting. If the weather conditions are not that hot, this symptom is definitely a sign of a dehydrated dog. Sticking out tongue and panting means that your dog is overheating, and dehydration and heat stroke go together.
- Thick saliva. As a rule of thumb, right before dogs become thirsty, their mouth gets dry, and their saliva thickens.
- Dry nose and gums. This is one of the first signs of dehydration. When your dog drinks enough water, its gums and nose should be wet.
- Lethargy dehydration. When a dog doesn't have enough water intake, there's less blood flowing through its body, and it's sluggish and loses energy.
- Fever. Dogs need an appropriate amount of fluid to regulate their body temperature.
- High blood pressure. A lot of salt and less water are amongst the main reasons for canine dehydration. It can damage a balance of electrolytes, which, as a result, causes hypertension.
- Painful urination. Noticed some changes in your pet's urination habits? Pain, less frequent urination, and blood in the urine are all things that hint at dehydration. Their kidneys are also under a lot of pressure.
- Digestion illness. Loss of appetite, diarrhea, irregular food consumption, constipation, and vomiting are all warning signs of dehydration in dogs.
Here's a video of symptoms if you're a visual type:
In case you notice any of these, take the dog immediately to the veterinarian.
By the way, these symptoms and guidelines are also relevant for other animals and pets, such as cats.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs? Valuable Tips
#1 - A Water Bowl a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Well, it's not always strictly one water bowl, but it's important that you know how much water your dog needs to drink every day.
Generally, dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per day for every pound of their weight.
So, the water routine will vary with your pets' age, muscles, body weight, but also natural factors, such as outside temperatures. An adult Pitbull won't drink the same amount of fluids as tiny Shiba puppies.
For instance, dogs who take medication for an issue with the liver or kidneys require more water.
The advice is to follow this chart as an example, but there will be situations where this won't be enough:
Optimal water intake per day
10 lbs (4.5 kg)
10.10 oz (295 ml)
25 lbs (11.3 kg)
25.25 oz (739 ml)
60 lbs (27.2 kg)
60.60 oz (1.7 l)
A dog should always have access to water. Clean water cannot be substituted for any other fluid, and it's the basis for a long and happy life!
Bonus tip: If you find that water heats way too quickly when you leave it for a day, you can wrap an ice pack in a towel and keep it under the bowl.
Make sure to always keep your dog's water bowl full!
Ideally, you should have water bowls in every room of your home. If not, make sure to keep it close to the door so that your dog is used to its position in the home. Also, if you have a garden, keep at least one bowl there. If your dog lives in a cage, make sure it's within its reach.
#2 - Food + Fluids = Long & Healthy Life
A common misconception is that dog owners cannot use food to control water intake. The reality is that appropriate nutrients will aid their bowel movements, and contribute to the general health of your pet.
The fact that pets can go longer without food than they can go without water is not a reason to drop awareness about dietary needs. In fact, when both factors are taken into account, and owners care about dogs' drinking and eating habits, their puppies will be healthy at all times.
In my experience, Jimmy wants to drink more water when he eats salty food. Salt without much water is probably going to result in dog dehydration.
To prevent this, go for a healthy diet with mild food. However difficult it may be - no crisps, biscuits, popcorn, sweeteners, etc.
Certain foods can also encourage hydration. The good option is beef broth, chicken broth, fruit snacks, etc.
Whenever you can, go for wet kibble. It's a good substitute for dry canines' foods. Plus, it has a better taste!
If you want to completely take control over your dog's health, try making homemade dog food with ingredients that you choose. It'll be a life-changing decision!
#3 - Create Healthy Drinking Habits
Having a filled bowl will not help if your dog is not used to drinking water. So, the real mission is to instill appropriate behavior in your pet.
What do I mean?
Your pet should have an idea of the location where their water source is located. There are different ways to do this, but a permanent place in your house will help. It can be near their usual "territory," so that they associate it with the regular course of events. Makes sense, doesn't it?
#4 - Be Mindful
When we, humans, are feeling hot, dogs are even more. Just imagine how you would feel left without water for a long time!
In warm climate and during summer weather, do not leave your puppy in hot places where they have no water, such as in a car. There's a risk that you cannot go back to your car quickly if anything happens.
Also, bring water with you when going on long walks. There are a number of products you can use for this purpose.
Here is a couple of my favorite ones:
- lesotc Pet Water Walk Bottle
- Yicostar Dog Water Bottle for Walks
- Esing Outdoor Dog Water Bottle for Walks
#5 - Quick Boost
If you have a concern that your dog is slightly dehydrated, you can give it diluted Pedialyte (50:50). You can give it to your dog with a syringe so that you're sure how much he drank.
It'll get your pet back in shape and eliminate weakness on the spot thanks to its replenishing properties. They work in the following way: repair cells in dogs' bodies and get electrolytes in order.
Frequently Asked Questions
I saved a portion of my time to reply to some of the most frequently asked questions about dogs' dehydration. I made sure that these views are shared with professionals by close consultation with my friends who are experienced vets.
Can a dog go 8 hours without water?
Yes, dogs can go 8 hours without water without significant consequences.
However, it's of utter importance to pay attention that it receives enough hydration and that this is not often repeated.
If your dog doesn't have access to water for 8-hour periods for a long time, it can cause many problems for its organs, joints, and muscles.
Why would a dog not drink water?
Plenty of reasons can cause dogs to refuse to drink water.
Some illnesses, such as diabetes or kidney disease, can decrease animals' appetite for water.
Other common causes include urinary tract infection or traumatic experiences - such as castration, neutering, mouth injuries, teeth surgery, etc.
Puppies also tend to drink a bit less water, but they need encouragement to develop a healthy lifestyle!
How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water - Conclusion
The dog is a humans' best friend and our family member, and it deserves equal treatment and love.
The information you learned today about how long can a dog go without water can save your dog's life! Early intervention and interest in your pet's drinking habits means that you're an active participant in his well-being.
Dehydration in dogs is often a result of another illness or the warm temperature outside. Bottom line - whatever the reason, it's one of the things that should be noticed on time so that you can help your dog and take it to the vet if needed.
Keep an eye on the drinking habits of your doggo and share this article so that others can learn valuable information!
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