The Pros and Cons of Leaving Water Out for Puppies

It’s safe to assume every household with a dog has at least one bowl of water out at all times, but is it really necessary?

To avoid the risk of dehydration, a potentially deadly condition, puppies and dogs of all ages should have continuous access to water. When it may not be advisable is overnight when you have a young puppy. Drinking will cause accidents in the house, which can slow down house training progress.   

Pros and Cons Of Leaving Water Out For Puppies

Pros

Every dog no matter how young or old, must have access to clean, fresh drinking water. Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration, organ damage and in extreme cases…death.

Cons

The only time leaving water out for a puppy would be considered a “con” is overnight when he or she is still very young and not housetrained.

NOTE: I know this article is about puppies, but since this is such an important topic, I’m going to include dogs of all ages.

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you buy something I may receive a small commission. This has no effect on the price you pay.**

Why Is Water So Important For Dogs?

When your dog pees and poops, sweats and pants he is always losing water. According to PetsMd, a dog that loses just 10%-15% of the water in his body can get very sick and die due to organ failure.

The AKC explains – “Water facilitates the metabolic processes – everything from digestion to brain activity, blood flow, and breathing. Blood is mostly composed of water, and as it flows through your dog’s body, it clears harmful toxins and transports oxygen. Without water, this exchange can’t happen, which can harm vital organs. Water also regulates your puppy’s body temperature. In hot weather, you may see your pup panting. Panting helps keep a dog cool by releasing water through respiration. But, on the other hand, he’s losing water through the tongue, so may need to drink more water than usual.”

Can You Give Your Dog Tap Water?

Everyone I know fills their dog’s water bowl with tap water, myself included. There was a time when I gave my animals only filtered water, but the quality where I live is fine so I’m okay going back to the tap. Some dog parents prefer using bottled water, while others have an in home filtration system. Which is best? It’s a personal decision and depends on who you ask. If you have concerns, do some research into the water quality in your area.

Signs Your Dog Isn’t Drinking Enough Water

  • Sunken eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Thick saliva
  • Collapses
  • Dry or tacky feeling gums
  • Loss of skin elasticity – as I mention in the test for dehydration
  • Panting
  • Urine which is bright or dark yellow

To test if your dog is dehydrated, gently pinch some skin from the back of his neck using your thumb and forefinger. If it springs back into place quickly your dog is fine, but if it takes time that is a sign your dog is dehydrated. If that happens please call your vet right away. Your dog may need to stay at the clinic for a few hours on IV fluids to rehydrate.

Pros and cons of leaving water out for puppies

How Much Water Should a Puppy Drink In a Day?

• Very young puppies need about ½ cup of water every 2 hours

• Older puppies need between .5oz – 1oz (15-30ml) of water for every pound they weigh. For example, if a puppy weighs 8lbs he or she needs between 4ozs-8ozs of water a day

• Adult dogs need 1oz (30ml) of water for every pound they weigh.

I’m about to state the obvious – don’t just fill the water bowl with the amount they typically drink, fill it to the top!

This is not an exact science

The amounts above are not set in stone, and can vary:

  • Dogs that only eat dry kibble will drink more than dogs fed wet food
  • Hot weather and more exercise cause increased thirst
  • Health conditions like kidney disease, Cushing’s and diabetes cause increased thirst
  • Medication that may cause him to drink more

Should I Leave Water Out For My Puppy All Day?

Yes, there should always be bowls of clean, fresh drinking water available in the house.

What about access to water for a dog in a crate? A young puppy won’t typically be in a crate for more than 2 or 3 hours, and should be okay without water. If it will be longer, he’ll need to drink. If you put a bowl in the crate you can pretty much guarantee your dog will walk in it, knock it over and get everything wet. A bottle or bowl hooked onto the side is a better, and drier option.

Can You Leave a Dog Without Water Overnight?

A young puppy who isn’t house trained will be okay without water overnight. If he drinks he won’t be able to wait until morning, he’ll have an accident which is always better to avoid when possible.

Dogs that are house trained should have access to water at all times.

How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Without Water?

I tried to find expert veterinary advice as to number of hours or days a puppy can last without water, unfortunately I couldn’t. I did come across a site with actual numbers in a post written by a “pet nutrition enthusiast.” Would a vet give this same information? I have no idea, so consult your vet for his thoughts.

My advice: Never let them go without (except when we talked about young puppies overnight).

What To Do If Your Puppy Won’t Drink

A dog that doesn’t drink, no matter the age, can be a worry so it’s time to get creative!

  • Have water bowls in various locations throughout the house
  • Try a different type of bowl – i.e. if you’ve been using plastic, try ceramic
  • Buy a bigger bowl
  • Keep the bowl clean and filled with fresh water
  • Add bone broth or low sodium limited ingredient chicken broth to his water or food
  • Add water to his food
  • Consider a fountain
  • Put the bowl close to where he spends a lot of time
  • Some dogs like to chew on ice cubes so add one or two to his water bowl. Make the ice cubes out of plain water or low sodium broth for interest
  • If he’s food motivated give him a delicious treat when he drinks
  • Try bottled water
  • Offer him water from your hand
  • Use a syringe to squirt water in the side of his mouth by holding up his top lip. This is only a temporary solution until you either find something that works, or get him checkout out by your vet
  • Elevate the water bowl – if you have a large breed puppy, he may find it uncomfortable reaching down to the bowl. Elevating it slightly (he shouldn’t have to reach up) may help

If you’ve run out of things to try, have him checked by the vet.

How To Help a Blind Dog Find His Water Bowl

If your pup has recently lost his vision, or you’ve moved and he’s having a hard time finding his water bowl here’s what you can do.

*Walk him around the house on a leash to help him acclimate, and be sure to show him where his water bowl is.

*Put a rug or something with a different texture near the water bowl to help guide him.

*Put a drop of a safe essential oil like lavender on something close to the bowl, so he can use smell to guide him. If he’s not drinking the smell may be too strong so move it a bit further from the bowl or use less.

Read thisHow to Care for a Blind Dog: The Definitive Guide

What To Do If Your Puppy Drinks Too Much Water

If you’ve noticed your dog drinking more than usual, take a moment and think about possible reasons.

  • Has he become more active?
  • Have you switched his food to dry kibble?
  • Is it very hot outside or in the house?
  • Is he spending more time outside?
  • Has he recently started a new medication? It could be making him thirsty

If nothing has changed there may be a health issue causing the increase, especially if you have an older dog. A trip to the vet should be your next move.

Resources

Is Your Puppy Drinking Enough Water? 

Water Intoxication: Too Much of a Good Thing

Healthy Water

 

If you would like to book an appointment with a virtual dog trainer, or you simply want more information, please click here.

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