We all know when we get dehydrated. And hence we make sure it doesn't get worst.

I was on a trek this weekend. A strong stray dog from a village chose to accompany me and being alone, I was happy with it. I couldn't take a detour off the trail to find water for it, so I made him drink water when I took regular breaks during the climb. It would drink a lot of water every-time I offered. (I just poured water into my palm and it would drink) Since I knew I have a water source where I was planning to camp, I could let him drink as much as it wanted to.

How can I know that the dog is perfectly hydrated? How much water is enough? How can I know that it needs water?

3 Answers 3


I actually answered a similar question over on Pets not long ago... Warm weather walkies and water... however you've asked in a bit more detail so here goes...

How can I know that the dog is perfectly hydrated?

The dog will refuse water given to them if they feel like they've had enough to drink - this is a slim balance especially in male dogs, as it's a fine line between him wanting to mark (lots of short pees) and therefore needing more to drink. But if your dog refuses water on a hike, they're probably not thirsty yet... but keep offering them water, especially when they start to pant more (this isn't a clear definitive reason to give water as they pant from excitement too!). Also if it's your own dog and they have wet food they can be less likely to actually drink due to the high percentage of water in their daily meals. Male dogs are not like humans in regards to peeing and hydration because of marking, they will force a pee at any point, and try and retain water for this reason.

How much water is enough?

Until they stop drinking. Big dogs will drink more water, small dogs less - but different breeds will deal with heat better than others... huskies probably want more water in the heat than say a short haired tan Labrador. I always take my Shetland Sheepdog his own flask of water - either he drinks from a bowl or the cup from the flask, and it's HIS flask, so I can pour the water back in if he doesn't drink it all, and if there's mud and bits in it's fine (dogs prefer bits in their water to the stuff straight out of the tap!) - That said, if you know you're going to be by say a river or stream that's got a good flow - don't take anything, just let them drink as they go.

How can I know that it needs water?

This is a little more tricky as dogs pant for several reasons, but if it's really very hot, and they're panting, offer them water. They may also whine but not all dogs will do this for water. If they nuzzle empty bowls and try and lick slightly damp surfaces then offer them a drink! I think as well here it's better to let them have a settle in some shade too where possible. Offering the dog you were with water with every break is really the right way to go. A dog can't really say 'Yes please I'd like some water' but if they see you drinking, and they pant and whine they're probably thirsty! They can get dry noses if they're really thirsty but they can get this from any number of other reasons - like if they've wiped their face, or there is a high wind.

It would drink a lot of water every-time I offered. (I just poured water into my palm and it would drink)

This actually may not have been 100% thirst - you may have had deliciously sweaty palms. Every time I work out or go for a run my dog loves to lick my palms as they're sweaty, and the salty taste is just irresistible.

  • Even though somewhat late, I'd like to add one point: just because a dog panting because of excitement, it doesn't mean they don't get thirsty from this.
    – cbeleites
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 19:32

Dehydration in dogs is very similar to dehydration in humans. This link should give you an in depth answer.
My main points are these: If the dog has a dry nose, dry gums and/or dry mouth it most likely needs water. Excessive panting is another big sign to look for seeing as that's how dogs regulate their body temperature. You should treat their dehydration like you would for a human and give them small amounts of water frequently. This way their body will absorb it in these small portions rather than run the risk of causing the dog to throw up - thus causing further dehydration. I would continue to give the dog small portions of water until they are showing fewer symptoms and/or are disinterested in the water. Hope this helps!


To add a little to the excellent answers already present: another way to tell dehydration in a dog is to (gently!) grab the scruff of its neck, raise the skin a bit and let go. If it returns back to its normal position and smooth shape quickly, it's fine. If it stays wrinkled/deformed or only resumes its original shape slowly, the dog is likely dehydrated.

  • This is a really good point, totally valid and I'm gutted I forgot it! This works on basically any animal with a scruff, like cats :) +1
    – Aravona
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.