Do you ever wonder if your cocker spaniel drinks too much water? Or, perhaps, not enough? This is especially curious when you have a little puppy because they seem to drink a lot, often turning each “session” into a splash and a dip, too.
We don’t tend to think about it, but water is the most important nutrient for dogs. They can survive without food to the point of losing half of body fat and over 50% of body’s protein storage. Yet loosing 10% of water will be fatal.
Water fills every cell of the body and makes up 80% of lean body mass. It is in the blood, in the cells, in every tissue and organ supporting biological function from transport of the nutrients, toxins removal, temperature control and homeostasis to giving shape to the body.
Dogs will naturally lose water through urine, faeces, breathing, panting and sweating (through the paws). Water will also be used to support body chemistry.
How much water does a dog need a day?
There are a few formulas to establish this amount. The basic one is dog’s body weight, kg x 50 (or 60) ml. However the resulting number should only be used as a general reference.
Why some dogs need more water?
The actual need for water will depend on many factors. Puppies and junior dogs usually need more than adults. Pregnant and lactating bitches would drink more, too. Hot weather, changes in body temperature, body composition, stress, vomiting, diarrhoea, illness, certain medications, amount of exercise and type of food will also have an effect on daily water requirements.
Why do puppies drink so much water?
The need for water depends on the amount of lean mass, volume of food needed per kilo of body weight, and what is known as surface area per unit of body weight because the latter determines the speed of evaporation. Puppies eat more yet their surface area per kilo of body weight is larger compared to adult dogs. They are also going through a growing stage when the body need extra fluids. Plus, puppies often have slightly higher body temperature than adults, which also means that the body may need more water to maintain homeostasis or the balance between chemical and physical states.
Can a dog drink too much?
Yes. This can happen to some avid swimmers who tend to fetch balls and sticks in the water, and dogs who like to play with water hose or sprinkles. If they swallow too much water, it can affect electrolyte levels (the balance of sodium and potassium in the body when sodium levels become low) and cause hyponatremia or water intoxication. The condition can affect several organs and body system, cause brain swelling and be fatal if left untreated. If the dog is affected, he becomes lethargic, looks weak, confused and out of balance, develops gazed look, has vomiting and diarrhoea, and suffers from seizures leading to coma.
How to make sure the dog drinks enough?
Keep an eye on his water bowl. Make sure that your spaniel has an access to fresh cool water at all times. Change it daily and top up if necessary. And always carry supply of water if you go for a walk on a hot day.