How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water?

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water? Photo of a dog looking sick because he is not drinking water.

Dogs need water just like any other animal. If your dog isn’t drinking as they should be and you’re concerned, read about how long can a dog go without water!

Dogs are capable of surviving without access to water for 3 days. Most pet parents will start to notice signs of dehydration after day 1, and then day 2 and 3 will show their dog becoming weaker and more lethargic as the dehydration sets in.

You can help your dog recover from dehydration at home. Still, you should take them in for a visit to your vet after day 2 of no water since they will want to monitor their recovery.

How do dogs get dehydrated?

You’re not actively trying to dehydrate your dog, so how does it happen? Why is your dog not drinking as much as they should, causing you to be genuinely concerned about dehydration? Some of the leading causes include:

  • Being sick (ex: the flu)
  • Having indigestion
  • Being tired
  • Managing pain (ex: from an injury or a surgery)
  • Being active

Dogs, like humans, can quickly and easily become dehydrated, and sometimes the dehydration can go long-term with you having to intervene.

What happens if a dog doesn’t drink water?

If your dog doesn’t drink water, they will get dehydrated. Dogs can get water from other sources, such as food, but drinking water daily is required to keep their body’s hydration at a safe level. 

Dehydration will lead to serious, potentially fatal health complications very quickly. While dogs can technically last 3 days with no water, that 3 days would be until they die from it. Damage to the organs can start as early as 24 hours or dehydration.

Dehydration can lead to kidney damage, liver damage, and more. While they could recover from the dehydration in and of itself if caught and fixed within those 3 days, their organs may not recover. This could lead to chronic health conditions or even death as a direct result.

Signs of dehydration in dogs

There are certain signs of dehydration in dogs that you can look for if your dog is refusing or disinterested in drinking. These include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Panting
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry nose
  • Thick saliva
  • Hollow eyes and face

The more of these you notice, the more severe the dehydration is. You should encourage your dog to drink when you notice them and strongly consider bringing them to the vet if they still refuse.

What is the duration of dehydration in dogs?

Dehydration sets in after-hours and cal last up to 3 days. It’s normal for dogs to be mildly dehydrated. For example, going for a walk and then returning home to drink and rest.

If they are not able to drink, mild dehydration can set in. This can be fixed quickly by drinking. Anything beyond that first 24 hours can be severe dehydration that requires a vet’s expert opinion and monitoring.

Dogs can fix mild dehydration by being coaxed or given open access to water. If they refuse or they can’t access the water, this will lead to medical dehydration.

How often should a dog drink water?

Generally, dogs should drink between ⅛-¼ cup (29-59 ml) of water per hour. This will keep their body adequately hydrated and keep their systems running as they should. Sometimes dogs will drink less or more, depending on their comfort and need. The size of your dog also factors in, of course!

How much water should a dog drink daily?

Using the same math as above, ⅛-¼ cup (29-59 ml) of water per hour would be, technically, 3-6 cups (709-1419 ml) per 24-hour day. Obviously, dogs aren’t up every hour to drink. But this will give you a sense of where they should be aiming as far as drinking.

Will a dehydrated dog urinate?

A dehydrated dog will still urinate. However, you will notice that this will decrease over time as their body uses up all available liquid. The amount they urinate will also decrease, too.

Can a dog go 1 day without water?

Technically, yes, a dog can go 1 full day without water. This will take them from mild dehydration to the start of medical dehydration, which must be addressed at a vet’s office. They can still recover fully from this, but you will want a vet’s guidance on it to ensure there are no lasting effects.

What happens if a dog doesn’t drink water for 2 days?

If your dog doesn’t drink water for two days, this will take them from the start of dehydration to moderate and severe dehydration. Emergency vet care is recommended and encouraged since this can be when organs start to shut down as the body runs out of liquid to keep itself running smoothly.

How do you hydrate a dog that won’t drink water?

The thing is, you are a loving pet parent. You’re not here because you’re deliberately trying to dehydrate your dog. For one of the reasons listed above, your dog has decided to stop drinking water, and you want to fix that.

If your dog is flat-out refusing to drink water, no matter how much you try, the best thing you can do is switch your dog over to wet food or moistened food.

It could be canned wet dog food or even moistened kibbles of dry food. Perhaps something like boiled rice with some water left in it, etc. Add water into their diet in sneaky ways until you can figure out what’s going on with your dog’s refusal to drink water.

Photo of a dog drinking water.

Can I syringe water to my dog?

If your dog accepts your use of a syringe, you can use that to give water to your dog. That’s a great way to keep track of how much your dog is drinking, too.

How to prevent my dog from being dehydrated?

You can use many tips to help you keep your dog’s hydration front of mind. Here are some of the main ones to focus on:

  • Use the right size of bowl
  • Use the right kind of bowl
  • Add water to food whenever possible
  • Always have a dowl water bottle when you travel
  • Check water bowl levels often
  • Never intentionally leave your dog without water

Use the right size of bowl

We talked about the amount of water above, which will help you determine the size of a water bowl. Always get one a bit bigger than you need to keep it from spilling or emptying before you return home if your dog is thirsty!

Use the right kind of bowl

Most experts will recommend a ceramic bowl if you insist on using something discreet. Or a purpose-designed stainless steel bowl. Plastic and other materials can have negative health impacts.

Add water to food whenever possible

This could be wet food, moist white rice, and so on. Adding in “sneaky” hydration is a great way to always help keep their hydration levels as high as possible before you even factor in their actual water bowl.

Always have a bowl water bottle when you travel

Bring a dog water bottle and bowl with you when you go to the dog park or your friend’s house. You can get many options online now that have them integrated into handly little devices so that keeping your dog hydrated is simple. When you want a drink, give your dog a drink, too!

Check water bowl levels often

It’s a good idea to make it a habit to check those water bowl levels as regularly as possible. For example, first thing in the morning, at mealtimes, before your leave for work, return from work, and before bed. Refill it as often as you need and want to. It will certainly never go to waste!

Never intentionally leave your dog without water

This should be obvious, of course, but it’s essential. We all think, “Oh, it’s only for a few hours.” But you should never, ever leave your dog without water intentionally or deliberately. This is part of your excellent job as a loving and attentive pet parent.

Can you leave a dog without water overnight?

You can leave a dog without water overnight, but you shouldn’t. It’s a good idea for dogs always to have access to fresh, clean water. Even if they don’t get up to drink, they often will first thing in the morning.

Can I leave my dog without water during the day?

Like overnight, you can technically leave your dog without water during the day. However, you should never intentionally do this. It puts them at risk of mild dehydration that they will be incapable of relieving by drinking. 

Accidents happen; we’re rushing, and we forget to refill the water bowl. Or your dog is playing with a ball and knocks over the water bowl. These are accidents and can easily be fixed with a fresh bowlful as soon as you get home. However, doing so deliberately is not recommended!

How long can a dog go without water in the heat?

The general rule is that dogs should drink about every 20 minutes when it’s hot out. This is especially so if they’re playing in the yard or swimming. Ideally, they should have access to fresh water the entire time they are out.

My dog is not drinking water but peeing

This can be a bit of a troubleshooting situation, right? Your dog is peeing normally and seems mostly okay, but they’re not drinking. In most cases, it’s just that there is enough water in their bodies that they’re still urinating it out.

However, in rare cases, it could be a kidney issue. You’ll want to pay special attention to their hydration and bathroom habits.

How long can a dog go without water after surgery?

From the list above, it’s normal for a dog not to drink immediately after surgery. Pain and even pain medication can make them queasy and uninterested in drinking anything. Most will go 12-24 hours without drinking much.

Your dog will start to drink when their stomach settles enough to handle it. This is where you can help by offering soft food and using a syringe to deliver water directly to them if they take it.


Dogs can stop drinking due to feeling sick, pain, and more. They can go for up to 3 days before they die from dehydration, but permanent damage from dehydration can set in as quickly as 24 hours after their last drink.

A dog should never be left deliberately without water for longer than a few hours if even that. If you notice your dog is dehydrated by watching for the signs and can’t get them to drink, a trip to the vet as soon as possible is a good idea.

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Dog Advisory Council

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