March 12, 2016 Photos by: Ohotnik/Bigstock
It’s more than just a matter of thirst. Here’s how it helps keep things moving.
One of your most important tasks as a dog owner is providing for your dog’s nutritional needs. Choosing a well-balanced dog food made with healthy ingredients is a good start, but there is one nutrient that is more important than all the rest: water. Not only does your dog need plenty of fresh water to survive, but water plays an important role in his digestive health as well.
The Role of Water in Your Dog’s Body
Your dog needs to drink plenty of fresh water each and every day in order to stay hydrated, but that isn’t the only function water serves – water is also important for your dog’s digestive health. For one thing, the water your dog drinks helps him to break down and digest the food he eats. From the moment you set your dog’s food bowl on the floor, he will start to salivate. Not only does that saliva contain digestive enzymes that help to start the process of breaking down the food your dog eats, but it also contains water that moistens the dog’s mouth and tongue to ensure easy chewing and swallowing. When the food reaches your dog’s stomach, water helps to jump-start the digestion process.
Water continues to help to break down food as it moves through the rest of his digestive system. It carries digestive enzymes and acids that help to extract nutrients from the food your dog eats – this process takes place in several organs including the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. After extracting the nutrients from the food, your dog’s body carries the leftover waste through the digestive system and out of the body; water plays a key role in this process as well. If your dog doesn’t get enough water, his stools may become too solid, which could lead to constipation.
How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?
Now that you understand the importance of water for your dog’s healthy digestion, you may be wondering just how much water your dog needs on a daily basis. Your dog’s needs for water will vary depending on his size, age, and activity level. As a general rule, your dog needs somewhere between 8 and 16 ounces of water per 10 pounds of bodyweight. For example, a 50-pound dog would need somewhere between 40 and 80 fluid ounces of water per day in order to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that highly active dogs require even more water.
In addition to learning about your dog’s needs for water, you should also learn to identify the signs of dehydration in your dog. One thing you will notice if your dog is dehydrated is that his gums become sticky and his eyes might start to look a little dry. Depending how quickly your dog is losing water, his skin might become dry and unpliable. Mild cases of dehydration can generally be managed by giving your dog a bowl of water and encouraging him to drink. If your dog’s dehydration becomes severe (often due to prolonged vomiting or diarrhea), however, you may need to take him to the vet for intravenous fluids. Hydration is especially important for your dog during the hot summer months – be sure to leave him with plenty of fresh water if you keep him outside for any length of time.
Many pet parents understand the importance of quality nutrition for their dogs, but they often overlook the importance of water. Not only does water keep your dog hydrated but it plays an essential role in maintaining his digestive health as well.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.