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Dear Katie, how do I keep my dog hydrated in the summer?

My dog is not a big drinker, and I’m worried he’s not getting enough water, especially in the warmer weather. How can I make him drink more and stop him from becoming dehydrated?

As we know, keeping a dog hydrated is crucial. The thing is, every dog is different, and some aren’t fans of drinking lots – this can come down to the food they’re eating, a preference for a specific type of water or even their water bowls. The good news? There are some easy steps you can take to improve your dog’s desire for water.

Dog drinking 2

Why water is so important

A dog’s body is around 70% water. Water carries out a range of vital functions, helping regulate body temperature, carrying electrolytes around the body, and aiding the movement of nutrients in and out of cells, so every muscle and organ receives proper nutrition. It also helps remove waste from each cell once nutrients have been utilised for energy, normally in the form of urine or faeces.

Water also helps lubricate the body surfaces and joints, making movement easier. Essential tissue found in areas such as the eyes, mucous membranes, and the brain relies on water to fully function.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Water has a pivotal role in the digestion process. In the summer months, you may find your dog’s prone to constipation, as more of the body’s water supply is used up through panting, making faeces quite dry and harder to pass. Extra water can contribute to keeping their digestive tract hydrated and flushing everything through.

Compared to humans, dogs can go for just 3 days without water. They only need to lose about 15% of the water in their bodies to risk health complications, which can become fatal. This is why the number one nutrient for all mammals is water, above protein, fats, and all other groups.

Tips on keeping your dog hydrated

Diet plays a big part in keeping your dog hydrated. Let’s consider the figures: dry food contains around 8-15% water, while a fresh food diet is jam-packed with moisture, serving up about 60-70% water. By simply feeding a diet higher in moisture, you are naturally increasing your pup’s daily water intake, reducing the need to drink extra water.

bowl of dry food and bowl of fresh dog food

Wet, raw or cooked diets can be great moisture delivery vehicles for your canine, especially if they are not big drinkers. However, in warmer months, to account for heat-induced water loss, I’d recommend adding water to their meals regardless of the type of food they’re fed.

Many dogs are not keen on tap water due to the chemicals it’s treated with, depending on where you live. Rainwater is often favoured or muddy puddles when out on a walk. To tempt his taste buds, you could collect rainwater for your dog to drink or try filtered water.

The type of bowl you use can make a difference, too. Some dogs are not keen on drinking from ceramic, metal or plastic bowls, as they can affect the taste, so consider testing different kinds of bowls and see if yours favours one in particular. Also, remember that bacteria can build up on some materials and change the taste, so it’s key to keep water bowls clean and refresh the water daily.

Place water bowls in various rooms within your home and outside – especially in multi-dog households, as this can decrease competition.

Feeding extra fruit and veggies is another fantastic means of sneaking more moisture into your friend’s diet. They taste great and can really give them a boost, so it’s a win-win.

collie eating watermelon

Making your dog’s water more palatable by adding some flavour may also encourage him to drink more. Bone broth is an excellent example of this: it provides additional nutrients, it’s hydrating, and many hounds will happily lap it up.

Make hydration fun! In the summer, you could create dog-friendly ice lollies, freezing some berries, vegetables or treats in water or broth for them to lick and enjoy. When water is disguised as a snack, most pooches will eagerly tuck in.

It is critical to note: if you notice any changes in drinking habits, such as suddenly drinking lots or not much, it’s worth discussing with your vet to rule out any underlying health concerns.

I hope these tips help, and your pup will be staying cool this summer.

Katie x

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