Dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications if not treated quickly. Here, our La Mesa vets talk about dogs experiencing dehydration and answer the question of how long can a dog go without food and water. 

Dehydration in Dogs

While your dog may drink frequently, they are also losing water constantly. If your pet does not drink enough water, it can lead to dehydration and cause various health problems. Lack of fluid intake in your pet's body could restrict blood flow and lessen the amount of oxygen that reaches the organs and tissues. This makes access to water crucial at all times.

What are the causes of dehydration in dogs?

Here are some of the most common causes of dog dehydration:

  • Heatstroke or fever
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or panting
  • Frequent urination caused by kidney failure and diabetes

What symptoms will a dog with dehydration have?

Some of the symptoms that most commonly affect dehydrated dogs include:

  • Less elastic skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting with or without diarrhea
  • Less energy
  • Fatigue
  • Panting
  • Hollow and dry-looking eyes
  • Dry nose
  • Dry and moist gums
  • Thick saliva

How long does dehydration last in dogs?

A mild case of dehydration should resolve itself relatively quickly once your dog is drinking plenty of water again.

If your dog is experiencing severe dehydration the recovery may take a longer period of time and will require veterinary care. How long it takes for them to recover will vary depending on the severity of their dehydration and the underlying cause.

With prompt veterinary care, their hospital stay may only last a day or two and require IV fluids.

How much water should my dog be drinking each day?

Water accounts for more than 70% of a dog's body weight, so they must drink plenty of water every day. A good rule of thumb for dogs is one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. So a 25-pound dog requires 25 oz. (or 3 cups) of water per day, while a 75-pound dog requires nearly 2 liters. This is spread out over their day, and there are other ways to supplement their hydration needs rather than offering them small amounts of water.

How long can a dog go without drinking water?

When your dog has noticeably stopped drinking you will likely begin to ask yourself questions like 'How long can dogs go without water (or food)?'.

Under normal conditions, a dog can go 6 - 10 hours without water without becoming dehydrated. So don't worry if you forget to refill his water bowl before leaving for work, or if he knocks his bowl over while you're gone.

The general rule of thumb is that a dog can go 72 hours without water, but the effects of dehydration become apparent after the first 24 hours. Though some have suggested withholding water to prevent dogs from urinating in the house or their crate all day while their owner is at work, it is critical to never leave your dog alone without water for any reason.

Dogs can go a little longer without food than they can water, although it is just as dangerous. A healthy adult dog can go about 5 days without food, although this varies based on their water intake.

Ensuring that your dog is hydrated and fed is crucial to their health and survival, so if you plan on leaving your dog alone for a while and are wondering how long can dogs go without food and water then you may want to consult with your vet or book them a stay at a kennel.

What should I do if my dog doesn't drink water?

A healthy adult dog will ensure that it gets enough to drink each day. However, if they refuse to drink water, they might be experiencing an underlying issue such as a stomach upset or an intestinal or urinary blockage.

It is critical to take action to get a dog to drink water, especially if the dog has been vomiting or has had consistent diarrhea. This is especially dangerous because it rapidly loses moisture while not consuming enough water or food to compensate.

If this occurs you should contact Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital during regular office hours for emergency veterinary care

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your dog hasn't been drinking enough water? Contact our La Mesa vets today to schedule an exam as soon as possible.