Dog Hydration and Exercise – Must Know

Why is it important to keep your dog hydrated

Water is critical for the survival of all living creatures. A dog could go three weeks without food, but would only last 2 or 3 days without water. All the cells in the body primarily contain water. It plays a vital role in all the functions in the systems in the body.

You probably know from your own experience how you feel when you get a little dehydrated. You can’t think clearly, become hot, have low energy, and become a little agitated. If you become severely dehydrated you could become seriously ill. It is the same for dogs.

Hydration aids a dog by maintaining body temperature, removing waste and toxins, aiding in digestion, and making movement easier.

Should dogs drink water before, during, and after exercise

Keeping your dog hydrated when exercising or going for a walk is important. However, it is just as important that they don’t drink too much water. Firstly, if their stomach is full of fluid, and they go running and jumping around, it will be uncomfortable for them.

The main reason for a dog not to drink too much before, during, or after a walk or exercise is the risk of bloat. Bloat is when your dog’s stomach blows up like a balloon, This is a serious situation and can be fatal.

Limit your dog’s water intake before, during, and after exercise.

If you know that you are headed to the dog park or taking them out for a walk or run, make sure they don’t drink too much beforehand. It is probably best if they don’t drink for at least 30 minutes before exercise.

Once out and your dog is thirsty let them lap up a few times and then make them stop. Wait for around 30 seconds and then let them drink another small amount. Repeat the process until they have had sufficient. The last thing you want is to allow your dog to just suck in water and air.

Once you are home again your dog may head straight for the water bowl. Again, don’t let them just gup down as much water as they can. Follow the same procedure as above. Allow them a few licks and stop them for 30 seconds. Repeat until they have had enough to satisfy their thirst. After about one hour or more and they have recovered from the exercise, you can allow them to have a bigger drink.

A good way to ensure a dog doesn’t gup water down is to use a dog water fountain. These also keep the water moving to add oxygen so it tastes better and fresher. they are also elevated which is a better drinking position.

View Dog Water Fountain on Amazon.

How much should a dog drink a day?

In general, we just put out a bowl of water for our dogs and expect that they will regulate how much they need. We figure that if they are thirsty they will drink. However, dogs that drink too much water or not enough could be at risk of health issues.

How much water a dog needs a day will depend upon a number of factors.

Size of the dog: A healthy dog will drink about 1 ounce (30ml) of water per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight.

Type of food you feed: If your dog eats dry kibble they will need to drink a little more water. With a wet or raw diet, they will get some fluid from eating so will need to drink less. Another factor is the level of sodium in the diet. If it is a food with higher levels of sodium they will need to drink more.

Temperature: Obviously, in hotter weather, your dog will tend to be more thirsty.

Medication: If your dog is on any kind of medication such as pain killers or antibiotics, it may affect how thirsty they are and how much water they need. Ask your vet about what to expect.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs

Signs and symptoms of dehydration to be aware of include:

  • Chapped dry nose
  • Sunken eyes
  • Hanging their head
  • Dry mouth with tacky gums and thick saliva
  • Warm back
  • Wobby and unsteady on their feet. Loss of balance.
  • Parched skin that lacks elasticity
  • Excessive panting
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite

How to check if your dog is dehydrated

The simplest way to test your dog for dehydration is to check its skin elasticity. To do this gently pull up some of the dog’s skin near their shoulder blades and then let it go. Observe as it falls back into place.

If they are well hydrated, the skin instantly will spring back to its original position. The skin of a dehydrated dog will take longer to fall back into place.

Another way is to check your dog’s gums to feel whether they are sticky or dry. You can test for capillary refill time. Press your finger gently against your dog’s gums and then remove your finger.

If they are well-hydrated the area where you pressed will appear white momentarily, and then return to its normal pink color almost immediately. In a dehydrated dog, the capillary refill time takes much longer. 

If you have any concerns consult your vet. The vet may need to inject IV fluids to get fluid back into them.

How to get a dog to drink more water

They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Is this true for dogs? If you are concerned your dog isn’t drinking enough there are a few simple ways to get them to drink more.

  • Give them beef or chicken broth. Ensure you select a low sodium broth without any sort of seasoning.
  • Offer them Soya milk.
  • Give them a dog chew or bone. This may encourage them to drink after.
  • Feed some wet or raw food. This contains 70% water. Even if you do feed dry kibble, you can soak it in water.
  • Give them some exercise.
  • Ensure they have fresh water. Stale water may not taste good to them. Also, make sure their water bowl is clean.
  • Give them frozen treats on hot days. You can fill a Kong toy with broth or water and freeze it.
  • Move their water bowl to a different location. Or provide them with several water bowls.
  • Use a dog water fountain. The water will be filtered and as it is moving will contain more oxygen making it fresher.
  • Use a syringe to shoot a small amount of water into your dog’s mouth. the natural reaction will be to swallow.

Can I give my dog Pedialyte?

Pedialyte is a human formula and is ideally not given to dogs. The electrolyte balance for humans and dogs is different. It is also high in sodium and contains sugar which is not the best for a dog. If you are considering giving your dog. Pedialyte to your dog because they are ill I would not recommend it.

Instead, consult your vet who will suggest an electrolyte that is far more appropriate.

Can I give Gatorade to my dog?

Maybe, you can give a small quantity of Gatorade to a dog (a few sips). However, Gatorade does contain sodium and sugar which doesn’t make it ideal for dogs. Water is best for a thirsty dog. If your dog is dehydrated or ill, consult your vet who will recommend a veterinary electrolyte.

Summary – Dog Hydration

Hydration is crucial for the good health of your dog. Hydration aids a dog by maintaining body temperature, removing waste and toxins, aiding in digestion, and making movement easier.

A healthy dog should drink about 1 ounce (30ml) of water per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight.

It is important that your dog doesn’t drink too much water before, during, or straight after going for a walk or having exercise.