Ready for your doggy pop quiz for the day? When it comes to your dog’s nutrition, which of the following is the most important for your dog’s health? Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, protein, water, minerals, or fat? The way your dog does mind games to get those treats and makes that food disappear in record time the answer must be protein. Wrong. The number one thing your dog needs is water.

Your dog loses water all day as he sweats through his paws when he pants when he pees and when he poops. If you’ve ever taken my dog on a walk you wonder how there’s any water left in him at the end of your journey based on all that water evacuation activity in which he engages.

A dog that loses between ten and fifteen percent of the water in his money can get very sick and, depending on other factors, can even die. The good news is that replacing water doesn’t usually require a trip to the vet or an IV.

How much is enough water? Determining the answer to that question isn’t too hard. You’ll want to make sure your dog gets at least one ounce of water daily for each pound he weighs.  Even those of us who weren’t math wizards can easily figure out the ration. So a twenty-pound dog needs approximately two cups of water a day.

As a pet parent, you’ll want to keep water easily available for your dog. At our house, that means we have three water bowls and we make sure to keep them full and we refill the bowls so the water stays fresh. It’s also important to clean the bowls frequently. Two of our water bowls are outside, one at each door, and when our dog stays outside I throw in ice chips to get it cool.

Be warned: your dog knows when he needs water so if you don’t give it to him he’ll find it and it will likely be from the toilet which is not a clean source of water. Keep the toilet lid closed so your dog stays out.

When dogs don’t drink enough water or if they lose too much water, they become dehydrated. Older dogs and dogs that are sick, pregnant, or nursing can get dehydrated easily.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

Little energy

No interest in eating

Sunken eyes 

An easy test is to lift your dog’s skin on the back between your dog’s shoulders. It should sink back to its normal place right away. Next, gently press on your dog’s gums until the pressure creates a light spot. The normal color should come back right away when you remove your finger. Also, the gums should feel slick and moist. If you think your dog might be dehydrated, take him to the vet right away.

There’s a reason we need to be aware of your dog’s poop because many health problems can cause diarrhea including infections from bacteria, viruses, and worms. Dogs will lose more water from diarrhea than a solid poop and that can quickly lead to dehydration.

As simple as it sounds the best thing you can you do for your dog is to keep them vaccinated regularly, keep them away from old food, be vigilant on your daily walks so that they don’t eat random food, animal carcasses, or even dog poop.

Animals only drink water when they’re thirsty so on hot days, or when your dog is playing, they may need extra water, and they may or may not drink more. Some dogs get dehydrated when they are stressed, or distracted when they’re running around outdoors. Encouraging your dog to stay hydrated will help prevent kidney problems, urinary tract infections, and other health issues.

In addition to the water bowl next to his food, keeping bowls outside and any room where your dog hangs out is a good idea. Adding water to your dog’s food can get him to drink more. You can add it to dry, canned, and homemade food.

This is the best time of the year for dog parks, trail hikes, and all sorts of fun outdoor activities. Always carry water and dog bowls, seek out shade for you and your dog, so you can keep your dog hydrated and healthy.