How Long Can a Dog Live Without Water? [Ultimate Guide]

Water is life, and so is to dogs.

Dogs need water to survive. If your dog stays several days without drinking water, it should be a cause for concern.

Sometimes, you just assume that your dog will “miraculously” stay a week without a drop of water, until reality kicks in.

And the big question is: How long can a dog live without water?

Typically, dogs can live for about 2-3 days without water, and this may vary depending on the particular dog breed, age, weather conditions and their current health condition.

This means that the time period a dog can survive without water will vary on individual dogs before the situation becomes fatal.

Read on to learn invaluable information on:

  • Why your dog needs water to survive
  • Why your dog may stop drinking water
  • Signs that your dog is dehydrated
  • How to keep your dog hydrated (even why he does not want to drink water)

Why your dog may stop drinking water

A dog's body is made up of 80% of water, and he must stay hydrated at all times. Dogs require to drink at least ½ to 1 once of body weight every day.

However, there are situations when your dog may stop drinking water entirely or drinking low amounts of water below the recommended amount. Some of the factors that may make your dog to stop drinking water include:

An injury or illness.

If your dog has sustained injuries in sensitive body organs such as the mouth or tongue, they will likely stay away from the water bowl.

In some occasions, your dog may be struggling with an illness such as tooth abscess or inflammation in the mouth, which can make it painful to get any liquids or solid foods in the mouth. 

Change of environment

Dogs are territorial animals, and any changes in their surrounding environment can make them nervous or anxious about their regular behavior or routines, including drinking water and eating food in the new environment.


It's typical for older dogs to take in less water as compared to puppies because of their reduced metabolism and activity levels. Therefore, as your dog gets older, he will reduce the water intake, and even stay a day without drinking water.

Weather conditions

Dogs drink a lot of water during the summer, since they lose a lot of water due to the high temperatures. As a result, drinking water regularly helps them stay hydrated.

However, during the winter, dogs have a low urge to drink a lot of water due to the low temperatures. This means that the water bowl will not require replenishing as often as during the summer months, when temperatures are literally off the roof.

Contaminated water

Dogs have a strong sense of smell, and any slight changes in the taste or smell of water will force them to stay away from the water bowl. Check for any signs of water odors, foul-smelling water bowls, or any foreign objects in the water bowl.

Can you leave your dog without water during the day?

The number one rule for pet parents is to never step out of the house without refilling the food and water bowls.

A day without water can spoil the mood for your dog, and he won’t be in the mood to shower you with unconditional love.

If you can’t go a day without drinking water, your dog shouldn’t either.

What happens when a dog goes without water for long?

If your dog is lost or you traveled and left them without water, they can last 2-3 days without water depending on the weather conditions, age and state of health.

If you dogs stays without drinking water for over 3 days, key body organs like the kidney will not get sufficient water to perform their functions. When the organs become dehydrated, they begin failing, and this can lead to death if there is no immediate solution.

Always monitor your dog’s water intake to make sure he is drinking enough water. If the dog shows signs of dehydration, provide clean drinking water, and pay your vet a visit as soon as possible.

What are the Signs of Dehydration in Dogs?

If your dog water bowl remains untouched for several days, you should look out for the following signs of dehydration:

Sunken eyes

When dogs are dehydrated, the muscles around the eyes start losing their firmness, and may appear swollen. If you notice your dog’s eyes looking sunken, you should take him to your vet immediately before your dog becomes critical.


A dehydrated dog will typically show signs of tiredness than normal. This situation occurs because there inadequate fluids within the body, which results in reduction in the flow of blood to the muscles. This causes a strain in the muscles, which explains why your dehydrated dog exhibits signs of lethargy.

Excessive panting

If your dog is panting unusually it is highly likely they are dehydrated and need to take water immediately.

Reduced skin elasticity

Checking skin elasticity is one of the most popular ways of checking if your dog is dehydrated. If you tug their skin and it takes a while to get back down, they definitely need to take in more water.

Dry nose and gums

A dog’s nose and gums typically look pink and moist when they are hydrated. However, the nose and gums may appear dry and cracked if they are dehydrated.

How to Keep Your Dog Hydrated 

Here are some hardy tips to help your dog drink the required amount of water every day and stay hydrated:

  • Always ensure the water is clean by changing it at least once a day.
  • Provide your dog with more wet food and less dry kibble to provide an alternative source of water.
  • Reduce the amount of sodium intake in dog food because excess salt causes dehydration, and your dog may not keep up with the water needs.
  • Place the water bowl in an accessible location where your dog can stop by to drink water while walking around the house.
  • The water bowl should be big enough to hold sufficient water that is enough to last your dog a day.


Dogs needs to take about one ounce of water per their body weight. If you mistakenly forget to refill the water bowl for a day, the level of dehydration will not be critical.

Typically, dogs can go for about 2 to 3 days without taking water and still survive. However, the weather conditions, age, and state of health can determine your dog’s chances of survival.

Always ensure that your dog has sufficient water to drink, and the water bowl is strategically placed around the house. Alternatively, you can get a water fountain to encourage your dog to drink a lot of water. Remember to frequently monitor your dog for signs of dehydration, and pay your vet a visit if you dog’s dehydration appears critical.

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