How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water? [Answer + Safety Guide]

how long can a dog go without water

You have probably not wondered how long your dog can go without water, but it can happen. It is essential to understand how long your furry friend can go to ensure they are still within healthy limits if they stay for a period without drinking water. 

Like humans, dogs need water for the body’s natural processes; therefore, it should be an essential part of their diet. Dogs can go two to three days without water; however, the period can be shorter if your dog is in an uncomfortably hot climate.  

This article digs deep into how long your dog can go without water, the importance of water for your dog, knowing when your dog is dehydrated, and what you can do if your dog gets dehydrated. Read on. 

The Importance of Water for Dogs

Surprisingly, water is one of the essential nutrients for dogs. Its importance in the body is often underrated as it is perceived as a supportive nutrient more than a functional one. But, without it, most of your dog’s system might not function fully, resulting in severe medical conditions.

Water is essential in these ways. 


Water is crucial in each stage of digestion, acting as a critical ingredient in the production of digestive juices and enzymes. It is vital in producing saliva, stomach acids, and bile, all essential in the digestion of food from start to finish. 

Without water, your dog would not be able to process the food it eats. Additionally, your dog’s body would have difficulty synthesizing nutrients into absorbable compounds in the body. 

Water also works to transport nutrients throughout the body. When your dog has enough in the body, it gets easier to get all the nutrients through the bloodstream to every system in the body. 


Water helps flush out toxins from the body systems. As it contributes to the digestion of food, the water clears toxins in the bloodstream, flushing them out of each system. 

When the bloodstream is concentrated with toxins and excess water-soluble nutrients, water contributes to filtration through the kidneys, clearing them into the urine for excretion. 

If your dog does not have adequate water, there is potential for harmful toxins to build up in the body. This will, in turn, cause kidney and urinary issues if the organs fail to flush them out thoroughly. 

Cell Regeneration

Cell turnover depends on water; therefore, your dog needs to stay hydrated. Water plays a significant role in cell growth, regeneration, and division, which is essential for healthy skin and coat. 

Regulation of Temperature

Dogs can handle warm weather, but they depend on extra hydration to regulate temperatures as the summer approaches. Humidity build-up can lead to overheating, a recipe for sunstroke in dogs. 

Naturally, dogs sweat through their paws and pant to get rid of heat. These depend on adequate water levels in the body, helping your dog release and flush out the heat build-up in their bodies.

Why Would Your Dog Stay Without Drinking Water?

Naturally, your dog will want to sip on some water every few hours, so it is strange if it stays without drinking water for a day or two. Here are some reasons why your dog will not want to drink some. 


If your dog is suffering from a condition, it could be why they do not want to drink water. Urinary tract infections are the primary health issues that could disrupt your dogs’ will to take some water. 

Urinary tract infections start from the urethra and move up to the bladder, causing inflammation. In severe cases, the inflammation affects the kidneys, impacting the natural detoxification process. 

So, how can you tell if your dog has a urinary tract infection: 

  • Inability to stand and urinate or inability to have a free urine flow. 
  • Symptoms of a compromised immune system such as fatigue, fever, etc. 
  • Highly concentrated urine. 
  • Discomfort passing urine. 
  • More frequent urination
  • Blood-stained urine
  • Incontinence; urinating in the house. 

The pain resulting from a urinary tract infection can make your dog stay without drinking water for a long time. Visit a vet for proper diagnosis and timely treatment and management if you notice these signs. 


Your dog could be having injuries in the mouth, making them avoid water. These could be tooth root abscess, mouth cancer, dislocation, periodontal disease, and fractures. 

These conditions happen gradually, and you might not notice any signs until your dog stays without drinking water. Usually, these will not affect your dog’s health in a significant way, but if not treated on time can result in severe issues along with dehydration. 

Contaminated Water

Dogs are sensitive and can easily detect strange tastes and odors in the water. In fact, dogs can pick up on contaminated water better than humans, so a slight change in the water they are used to can make them stay without drinking it. 


Adult dogs have a reduced water intake compared to their younger counterparts. Most times, this does not come from not having the urge to drink some but from difficulties getting to the water source. 

Since older dogs have reduced energy levels, they tend to save it, affecting how many times they walk up to the water bowl. Additionally, their activity level reduces significantly as they age, cutting down their need for more water than when they were more active. 

Cold Weather

When temperatures hit an extreme low, your dog might not want to take water. This is normal as it happens to humans too; however, going days without drinking a little of it might indicate additional problems. 

Unfamiliar Environment/ Limited Access to Water

New territory for your dogs can deter them from acting as usual, including their natural urge to drink water. Your furry friend can get nervous and stay cautious, especially if other dogs are around. 

Also, a dog might not know where to get water even if they wanted to drink it. This is why it is essential to keep a portable bottle and bowl for your dog to ensure it stays hydrated on the go or in new environments. 

Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration happens if your dog runs low on the water stored in the body. This results in compromised body processes which could, in turn, lead to damage or failure. 

Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration can occur abruptly, as quickly as hours, with a reduced water intake. Here are the warning signs of dehydration that you should keep in mind to ensure prompt intervention. 

Sunken Eyes

If your dog has sunken, pale eyes, it could result from reduced water levels in the body. Like most other organs, the eyes need a consistent water supply to function normally and maintain their natural state. 


Your dog may portray signs of irritability and lethargy from depleting bodily fluids. With reduced water levels in the body, blood flow to the muscles and the systems is reduced significantly. Eventually, this negatively impacts the amount of energy that your dog has. 

Reduced Appetite 

Your dog may exhibit a reduced appetite, and this can be an indication of dehydration. Since water is a critical ingredient in saliva production, your dog might have difficulties chewing and swallowing food, staying away from it altogether. 

Dry Nose and Gums

Dogs’ noses and gums should be wet and pink unless it is a dehydrated dog. A severely dehydrated dog will have a dry nose and pale gums. Some may portray cracked noses with severe dehydration causing extreme cracking to the point of bleeding. 

Restless Panting

Continous and restless panting shows that your dog is thirsty and dehydrated. This happens when the weather is too hot for your dog to bear or it has gone without water for a day or so. In such a case, make sure you provide plenty of water for your dog to quench its thirst and help it recover. 

Reduced Skin Elasticity

Dogs’ skin is highly elastic and should retract to its normal state after pinching or pulling. If you tug at your dog’s skin and it stays put or takes a while to get back to usual, it could mean they are dehydrated. 

Essential Tips to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

Dehydration can be severe, and it can get as bad as taking your dog’s life. You need to be equipped with tips to help you prevent dehydration in your furry friend and keep all its effects at bay. 

Provide Wet Food

Provide wet food if your dog does not take enough water or generally does not like it. Wet food has a good percentage of water content which can add to the little your dog takes, helping to keep your dog hydrated. 

Wet food can come in handy for your sick dog who has difficulty taking in water. You can pour fresh water on dry kibble and allow it to absorb the water for a while. 

Always Take Water With You When You Leave Home With Your Dog

Whether you are going for a short walk or taking a trip out of town for a day with your dog, water must be part of the essentials you pack. Pack clean water in a portable bottle and carry a collapsible water bowl for your dog. 

Provide water at reasonable intervals to keep your dog hydrated at all times. If you feel thirsty, that can be a cue to provide water for your dog. If it is hotter than usual, give your dog water frequently to help it regulate its body temperature while keeping dehydration at bay. 

Do Not Give Salty Foods

Vets advise against giving your dog salty foods. Salt increases thirst in dogs and is a leading contributor to the development of high blood pressure. Avoid sharing your salty and savory snacks with your dog, and get age-appropriate dog treats if you need to give snacks to your dog.

Provide Access to Water at All Times 

Ensure your dog has access to clean water at all times, whether at home or outside. Provide a clean water bowl in an area that your dog can easily walk up to and ensure it is convenient for your furry friend. Change the water daily to ensure it is fresh and clean all through. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Water Should My Dog Drink? 

Water makes up 70% of your dog’s body weight; therefore, it is essential to keep your dog healthy. Dogs need about an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. For example, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, it will need 20 ounces of daily water. 

How Long Will It Take for My Dog to Recover From Dehydration?

The extent of dehydration directly affects the length of recovery. That said, your dog’s recovery will depend on the severity of the case and the cause of dehydration. There is no standard timeline for your dog’s recovery, as this varies from one dog to another. 

How Can I Get My Dog to Drink Water Again?

Check the condition of the dog’s water bowl and ensure it is clean and of the right size for your dog. As a pet owner, ensure the water you provide is clean at all times. If that fails, add a little water to your dog’s food. You can also provide liquid foods such as chicken broth or soups as long as they are low in sodium. 

The Bottom Line

Your dog needs water to stay healthy and support the body’s natural processes. Your dog can last for a day or two without water, but any longer than this can result in dehydration, which can lead to death. If your dog stays without drinking water, consider a prompt visit to the vet for detailed assessment, advice, and treatment if necessary.

Gifts for Dog Lovers

Do you know someone who loves their dog more than anything?

Then they’ll love these gifts! From kitchen accessories to stylish jewelry, we’ve got everything a pup lover could want.

Our selection of gifts for dog lovers is sure to have something perfect for the special person in your life.

Head over to our list of 50 Pawsome Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers to find that perfect gift!

Recommended Reading

Maureen G.

Maureen has been a Content Writer in the pet niche for over 5 years. She has vast knowledge on dog-related topics including dog breeds, dog health, dog care, and nutrition. With keen interest on the evolving world of dogs, Maureen stays on top of developments, specifically designer dogs. She is a part-time volunteer in dog shelters and rescue centers, therefore conversant with the day-to-day lives of dogs.

Recent Content