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How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water?

closeup of golden retriever drinking water from metal dog bowl

Although it is not a hard-and-fast rule, the maximum duration that a dog can survive without water is 3 days. Having said that, it’s important to note that there is a massive difference between surviving and being in good health. A canine that hasn’t had any water for 72 hours will require immediate medical attention to avoid any long-term damage.

Dehydration is extremely dangerous for your dog, and you must take all the possible precautions to prevent it from happening. The signs of dehydration can be subtle, so you must keep an eye on your pup to detect them. The following list of symptoms could mean that your dog is dehydrated.  

  • Dry Nose and Gums
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Low Skin Elasticity
  • Sunken Eyes
  • Excessive Panting

NOTE: If the dog is refusing to drink water, you must take him/her to the vet for medical assistance.

Causes of Dehydration in Dogs

Understanding the reasons that can urge your furry companion to avoid drinking will help you to prevent dehydration.


When dogs are suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhea, they don’t feel like drinking water due to nausea. In these circumstances, your canine can quickly become dehydrated because he/she is losing a lot of water. Therefore, it is important to observe your pet closely when he/she is ill.

Sore Mouth

Closeup of husky with inflamed gums

Pain is another major factor that can make a dog reluctant to drink water. If there is a cut or wound in the mouth of your dog, he/she will avoid eating and drinking. Playing fetch with sticks or biting something sharp can cause these injuries.

Lack of Access 

Make sure that freshwater is always available and easily accessible to your dog, especially when you are away. This becomes even more important in hot weather because the pet will dehydrate more quickly.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Dehydrating?

Yellow Labrador puppy drinking water from small glass bowl

Other than providing your dog with fresh drinking water, you can take the following steps to keep him/her hydrated.

Take Water on Walks

If the weather is hot, make sure that you have water when you take your pup out for a walk. In extreme heat, it’s necessary to keep yourself as well as the pet hydrated. You may take a jug with you and use its lid to give water to your dog.

Keep Your Dogs Cool

white and brown dog laying in shade of tree

Overheating is another thing that plays an important role in dehydrating a canine. Despite the numerous cases of heat stroke every year, it is quite common to leave the pet in the car. We need to avoid this practice and keep our pups comfortable on a hot day. Always leave them in a shady and well-ventilated space so that they could stay safe from the heat.  

Buy an Appropriate Water Bowl

While purchasing a water bowl, you need to ensure that it has the perfect size for your pooch. If it is too small, it won’t have the capacity to hold sufficient water. As a rule of thumb, an ideal bowl should hold enough water that could last for 24 hours.

On the other hand, buying a water bowl that is too large is also equally ineffective. In such cases, it is quite likely that your pup might go for a quick swim. This will spill most of the water out of the bowl.

Use Self-filling Water Dispenser

blue and pink self filling water bowls

If you need to leave the dog alone for a few days, consider buying a self-filling water dispenser. You can also go for a water fountain so that the canine has a continuous supply of drinking water. These products will also counter the spilling issue, even if the pet knocks them down.

Give Sufficient Fluids to Sick Dogs

The canines who are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting need a continuous supply of water. It is important to keep them hydrated to avoid any medical complications. However, sick dogs don’t feel like drinking and you may have to use fluid therapy. If the condition of your pup seems too serious, you should immediately seek veterinary care.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water after Surgery?

Scruffy black dog with cone laying on couch

Dogs are often weak and lethargic after being sedated for the surgery. They may also feel nauseated due to the effect of the anesthesia. In these circumstances, they don’t feel like drinking but it’s important for their health to stay hydrated. Therefore, you should keep offering them some water but don’t force the issue.

For instance, you can put the water bowl close to your dog so that he/she could drink comfortably. Similarly, place the bowl at an appropriate height where the pup doesn’t need to bend his/her neck for drinking. It is quite normal for dogs to avoid drinking after they have undergone surgery. However, if they don’t drink anything within 24 hours, you must consult your vet immediately.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water after Vomiting?

Black dog vomiting in grass

A sick dog that is vomiting may not feel like drinking water, but hydration is very important for him/her. The situation can become even worse if the canine is also suffering from diarrhea. If your pup is suffering from these dehydrating conditions, it will need some sort of fluids within 16-20 hours.

If the dog is not drinking, you can try to feed him/her a couple of tablespoons of water every hour. In addition to that, you can also give some medicines to calm his/her stomach. However, you must discuss the issue with your vet before administering any medication. If the vomiting continues after 20 hours and the dog doesn’t start drinking, you must visit the vet.

How Long Can a Puppy Go Without Water?

pug puppy drinking from kitchen faucet

Just like adult dogs, a puppy can also survive for about 3 days without water. Having said that, it is an extremely undesirable situation and you should NEVER allow it to happen.

Although it is not possible to determine an exact amount, a puppy usually drink an ounce of water per pound of its bodyweight. This means that if your pup weighs 20 pounds, it will roughly drink 20 ounces of water. However, the consumption of water can increase even more on a hot day. Similarly, an active day will make your puppy drink some extra water.

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