We asked our Veterinarians and the answer to how much your cat or dog should drink may surprise you… Believe it or not, cats and dogs do not need the same amount of water for their size. It all comes down to differences in how their bodies cool off.

How Much Water Should Dogs Drink

Most dogs should drink about 1 ounce of water for every pound that they weigh, every day. That means a 10-pound dog needs about two-thirds of a 16oz bottle of water daily.

Really active pups or dogs who are pregnant or recently had puppies often need more water per pound of weight.

Puppies typically drink more than adult dogs because their bodies are growing and they’re much more active. If your pup eats soft food, they may drink slightly less because they are getting more water content from their food.

A 10 lb dog needs 10 oz of water a day.

Shannon packs water and a collapsable bowl to keep Pancho hydrated.

How Much Water Should Cats Drink

Keeping fresh water in a clean bowl for your cat helps them regulate their body temperature and digest their food.

Cats on the other hand need about 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water for every 5 pounds of body weight every day.

So, if you have a 10-pound cat, s/he should be drinking about half a bottle of water every day, or 7-9 ounces.

Just like dogs, if your cat eats wet food, they may drink slightly less water. If they are very active, pregnant, or recently had kittens, they will drink slightly more water.

A 10 lb cat needs 7-9 oz of water a day.

In sum, cats need a little less water than dogs do for their size. If your pet is drinking much more or much less water than these guidelines, it’s time for a checkup with your vet.

Keep reading for tips on how to tell if your pet is dehydrated. 

What About Hot Days? Should My Pet Drink More?

Yes! On hot summer days, or if your pet has been running/playing a lot, make sure they have access to even more fresh, clean water. Water helps cats and dogs regulate their body temperature, digest their food, and stay hydrated. 

If you think your pet may be very dehydrated, take them to an emergency vet or your full-service veterinarian right away. If your dog or cat seems mildly dehydrated but is not vomiting, give your pet small amounts of water, 1 teaspoon for a little dog or cat, 2 tablespoons for larger dogs, every 10 minutes for a few hours. 

Despite what you might think, if your pet is mildly dehydrated don’t let them drink rapidly. Drinking too much too fast could cause vomiting and thus more dehydration. Help them cool down, encourage them to drink small amounts slowly, and monitor them closely.

Besides being extra thirsty, here are 4 signs that your pet may be dehydrated. If your pet has these warning signs, you’d best get to a vet.

  • sleepy or unwilling to play
  • vomiting
  • dry gums and tongue
  • thick saliva

Do Dogs and Cats Sweat?

Yes… sort of. Both dogs and cats have sweat glands in their paw pads. But because their paws don’t have much surface area to help cool them down, they rely heavily on other methods to chill out. 

Panting is a dog’s go-to way of expelling heat. By allowing air to reach their tongue and mouth, they can more quickly cool down and evaporate much of their internal heat. 

Cats on the other hand, have a different favorite method of cooling down. Besides paw sweating (cats do this more than dogs), a cat will use mental tactics to cool off — stretching out on cooler surfaces, climbing into a shady spot, or drinking more water.

Cats do pant as a last resort, but a lot of panting is not normal for a kitty. If your cat is panting frequently or excessively it may be a sign that s/he is dangerously overheated. Get them to a cool place, ensure they have adequate water, and monitor them for signs of dehydration.

Dogs pant all the time, but if you see your cat panting, better help them cool off.

How Long Can A Dog or Cat Go Without Water?

Your dog and cat need fresh, clean water every day. In extreme heat (above 80 degrees) they need water available more frequently and in larger amounts. When at home in air conditioning, an otherwise healthy dog or cat can go a few hours without having their water bowl filled, but it’s best practice to always have water available to them. 

If your pet is having behavior issues with water or having difficulty potty training, give them water on a schedule to prevent unwanted accidents. Puppies will often need to go outside within 10-15 minutes after meal time or having a drink, so try to feed and water them right before a walk. Still having issues? Check out our 10 Top Tips for New Cat Owners and Puppy Potty Training Tips.

All pets who spend time outside need access to fresh water at all times when outdoors, regardless of the weather or their activity level. It’s also good to keep an eye out for bugs, algae, or debris in their bowls and wash them frequently to prevent bacteria growth, especially when it’s hot out.

Speaking of Bacteria…. Is It OK To Let Your Dog Drink From the Toilet?

The age-old question… besides being a little gross, you might be wondering, is it ok to let your cat or dog drink out of the toilet? Well, we asked our Veterinarians for you.

The answer is, if your pet takes a sip from the porcelain throne, it’s probably not going to lead to any major health issues as long as there is no waste or cleaners within the bowl or water. However, because even visibly clean toilets can harbor organisms (bacteria, mold, and other stuff), it’s best to prevent or discourage drinking from the toilet.

An easy solution? Put the toilet seat and cover down. If you have any cleaners or additives (like the blue stuff, bleach, or cleaning tablets in your bowl) DO NOT allow your pet to have access to that water.

Keep their water bowl fresh, clean, and accessible and your pets will be less likely to seek out the toilet bowl as a watering hole.

Follow these guidelines to help your pet stay happy, healthy, and hydrated. And sign up below to get more pet tips from our Veterinarians in your inbox.

Credit: Michael Himbeault

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