How Long Can A Dog Live Or Go Without Water?

Dogs can stay for between 2 and 3 days without having water. Although they will go up to the 72nd hour without the essential liquid, they should not be left dry. When dehydration happens, it affects all the body organs and metabolic processes of the dog. If a dog does not get enough water for a long time, its vital organs will suddenly fail, which will mean death to the canine.

If your pup is ill or recovering and does not want to drink any water, you should get assistance as soon as you can. Very likely, the attending vet will use IV fluids to keep them hydrated. Then, they will try to diagnose and treat the underlying issue.

This read is going to talk about dehydration in dogs at length. Also, you will get some info to guide you when your dog refuses to drink and eat. See yourself to the end, and happy reading!

Dehydration In Dogs – The Ins And Outs

Dogs are arguably the most active canines – which is something that comes naturally to them. They will jump, run, and even engage in some acrobatics that will even surprise their humans. When they are done getting exhausted, you will see them panting and huffing, tongue out, wanting all the water they can get.

You Should Know This

A dog’s body is 80% made of water, which is about a few percent higher than that of humans (65 to 70%). So, this means that your dog needs more water than you do.

So, always give your dog a drink when it seems like it needs it. You should always provide a clean bowl of water to the dog if it comes from a run or a play. If you don’t, you are opening up the dog to dehydration.

How Do I Know That My Dog Is Dehydrated?

The most apparent, easy-to-pick sign from a dehydrated dog is its looks. You will see a thirsty look panting (exposed tongue, quick in-out breathing), sunken eyes, a dried-up nose, and lots of movements as it will be looking for some water. However, these signs may be absent in a dog that is having trouble getting hydrated.

As the pet parent, you may need to investigate further to know if the dog has lost its internal fluids. Get near the dog and check its mouth – you should be able to tell if the place is dry or if the saliva has gotten thick.

Another sign of dehydration shows on the dog’s skin, which will lose elasticity. To see if the symptom is present, try and pull the dog’s scruff using your hand. If the canine’s skin takes longer than usual to come to its original position, it could be that the dog is suffering from dehydration. If the dog is lethargic and does not drink a lot of water, you could be dealing with a dry situation.

What Causes Dehydration In Dogs?

The main reason a dog could be experiencing dehydration is a lack of water. This happens if a dog is left alone in the house and its owners forget to fill the water bowl with fresh and clean liquid. It could also be that they are ill or something happened to them that made them stop drinking.

Before anything else, you should know that water is as essential to dogs as it is for us. The following little table outlines its importance:

The Benefits Of Water To Dogs
It helps in carrying nutrients and processed food material into and out of cells.It aids in food digestion and absorption.
It supports the joints of dogsIt assists bowel movements to run well.
It helps in keeping the dog sharp, confident, and refreshed

Some illnesses like fever and diarrhea drain the dog of its fluids. When a dog has a fever attack, it will urinate more, and when it has diarrhea, it will vomit. All these symptoms take away the water content in the dog’s system.

Another thing that can cause dehydration is the weather. That may have taken your mind and imagination to intense heat, but that is not the only weather condition that can trigger – cold temperatures can also get the dog dehydrated if it does not get lots of water.

As mentioned, a dog can stay up to three days without water. By the time it gets to the 72nd hour, its life will almost be over. Let us look at how the three days roll out.

Day One (First 24 Hours): Restlessness

During this time, the dog will have the energy to move about – it will completely be restless. It will seek water, and since there won’t be any, its mission will be unsuccessful.

Day Two (Next 24 Hours): Desperation

Between the 24th and the 48th hour, the dog will ultimately be desperate. It will want to quench its thirst so bad. Also, weakness will kick in. Depending on the specific breed, day two could mean the loss of its life.

Day Three (Last 24 Hours): Fatality

On the third day, most dogs will have died.

If you’ve left your dog for that long and you’re afraid that it is fatally dehydrated, you should rush it to the nearest vet. The vet will help the dog replenish all the fluids that it has lost. 

After Three Days

Some robust and resilient dog will stay up to three days and more. By that time, however, the dog will be 90% in the afterlife. I doubt if going to the vet will help, but you should go if such is your situation.

How To Avoid Dog Dehydration

Here are several things that you may do to prevent your furry little friend from becoming dehydrated:

1. You need to provide the following water measurement for a regular dog: one ounce of water for each pound of the dog’s body mass. This will ensure that the water is available and accessible.

2. You should work on changing the dog’s water every day. This will help you to know if it is still drinking the water. Also, it will give you a chance to provide fresh fluids.

3. If you’re going out on a walk with the dog, you should not bring a full water jug. This will be helpful, especially if the dog will get thirsty there.

4. If you decide to go somewhere without your dog for a long time, you can get water fountains or self-fill water dispensers. Those will help the water stay in one place and thus accessible even when the dog tries to knock it off.

5. Ensure that the dog is kept cool not only by water but also by adequate ventilation. Also, you can use ice packs to cool the dog if there is no water available.

Dog Minus Water And Food – How Long?

Many dogs are taken to animal shelters or vet clinics when they are starving, and such a thing can be heartbreaking. Most of the canines brought to the places of care are mostly stray dogs that spent hours looking for food but were unsuccessful. The others, well, are usually dogs whose owners have no respect and concern for.

If a dog gets a lot of care and love, it will become healthy and happy and have no problems in socialization. Whether housed, stray, or feral, any dog deserves to get adequate water and food supply. Because of the overwhelming dog population globally, many dogs do not get access to those things.

If you have a dog and it suddenly stops drinking and eating, you need to take it as something wrong. Let’s see why the dog would stop eating:

Why The Canine Is Not Eating Anymore

1. Health-Related Problems

Your dog may be coming from vaccination, a severe medical issue (like a mango worm infection), or it may be having tooth problems or nausea. All these may make them feel uncomfortable about eating or drinking, so you may need to seek a vet’s services. The expert may recommend a product like Entyce, which may improve the dog’s appetite.

If the dog is neither eating nor drinking because of issues like pancreatitis, it may need immediate medical care because you could be dealing with a life-or-death thing.

2. The Picky Kind Of Eating

Like us, sometimes dogs prefer some foods over others – talk about hanging out with humans for about 10,000 years! Your dog’s choice to eat one food over the other depends on what it has been used to. When you give it kibble and it has been eating table scraps, it may look the other way.

Sometimes, it happens that an overweight dog gets put on a special diet – low-fat, to be specific. When that happens, the dog may choose not to eat.

For other dogs, eating one food for a long time may get them behaving choosily.

When your dog becomes picky, it may fail to eat. If the behavior goes on for a long time, you may need to get in touch with the vet.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, dogs choose not to eat when they move into a new environment, a shelter. The dog is coming from a happy place full of warmth (a human home) and is going into a cold place where they don’t get a lot of attention. The changes may be a little too depressing for the dog.

However, the impact doesn’t need or won’t last for too long. The reaction to a new place is normal, and the dog should be eating within a day after they start the process of readjusting to the new life.

Dog Without Food – How Long Can That Go?

Like us, dogs that do not feel good (not sick) will stop any eating business. While it may help them in some cases, it could be detrimental to their health if they choose to persist.

If the dog’s sickness is connected to the GI (or gastrointestinal) tract, the non-eating style may persist. Research presented at the AAVN (or the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition) in the 2015 meeting captured information on 490 dogs that had been admitted – for a day, at least – at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

The parameters that the researchers looked at said that dogs that ate enough for their energy needs were more likely to be released from the hospital alive. Those that ate below the ‘enough’ mark or did not eat anything at all experience worse outcomes.

Dog Without Food And Suffering From Pancreatitis – How Long Can It Go?

If you’re a master of the dog’s digestive system, you should know about the organ located next to the stomach, known as the pancreas. It has an enzymatic role in digestion, and most notably, it takes care of the production of insulin, the sugar regulator.

When the pancreas gets inflamed and then pushes the enzymes out, they cause the protein and fat to break down not only in the pancreas but also in other organs. The condition is called pancreatitis and is quite common in dogs, and mostly it is triggered by fatty food.

Part of the treatment plan for dealing with the dog’s pancreatitis is by ensuring that the pancreas recovers by resting. As the dog owner, you will need to withhold all water and food for about 24 hours. The absence of the food will prevent the pancreas from releasing the enzymes. Because an entire day of total fasting is not easy, the dog will survive on IV fluids to help maintain correct electrolyte and food balance.

If the dog feels nice after a day, they should start munching on the bland food – the kind that will be easy for the stomach to take on. If your dog is recovering from pancreatitis, it should be given food gradually and in small portions.

Dog Without Food And Suffering From Parvo – How Long Can It Go?

Like a virus it is, Parvo causes vomiting and severe diarrhea, and one of its most significant factors is dehydration. When a vet takes up such a case, they will prescribe a treatment plan consisting of proper hydration.

The dog should not be fed because it could develop more nausea, which leads to vomiting and translates to dehydration (the thing you don’t want).

How long the dog – which has Parvo – can go without eating depends on many variables, one of them being size. Some ‘Parvo’ dogs will go two days without eating, and others up to 7 days.

The point is that you shouldn’t wait for the third day to pass – you should go to the vet and get medical help.

Dog Is Without Food – Post-Surgery – How Long Can It Go?

Lack of appetite and nausea are issues common to dogs, especially when they are coming from surgery. Surgery may be painful to the dog and even stressful, and the anesthesia used may make the dog feel nauseated.

A vet will mention that providing the dog with proper nutrition to ensure that it heals well. However, the dog should not munch on anything until after all the anesthesia effects are off its system, which is likely to be mentioned by the vet.

You should bring the ‘non-eating’ situation to your vet’s attention if it goes past 24 hours.

Dog Is Without Water – How Long Can It Go?

As mentioned in the kicker and most of the first section, the maximum is three days. On the third day, the dog is basically on its way to the afterlife. This is because all organs will be failing or will have failed. Such a dog can be given wet food (like cat food) so that it stays alive. The hotter the weather, the deadlier the situation.

Dog Is Without Water and Sick – How Long Can It Go?

As already implied (in pancreatitis and Parvo), a sick dog will be uninterested in food or drinks. While that situation may be acceptable and understandable for a little while, it may become problematic if the dog is dealing with diarrhea or is vomiting.

To answer the question, the time it would take depends on factors like the cause of the illness. Once you notice any symptoms of dehydration, you should talk to a vet.

If you confirm that diarrhea is a problem, you may need to provide liquids to keep the dog stay hydrated. When 20 hours go by without the dog drinking anything, get emergency help. 

Any move that you make will depend on the health status of your dog and its size. Also, whatever causes the vomiting also comes into play.

A vomiting dog should not be let outside. If it is not kept indoors, it may go out to eat leaves and grass. So, the ‘lockdown’ should only last between 6 and 8 hours, and during that time, you should give it about one or two tablespoons of water. Also, you can provide any drug that helps in dealing with stomach issues like omeprazole or famotidine. However, you should talk at length to your vet before you administer any medications. If the situation persists, you know what you need to do.

Dog Is Without Water And Coming From Surgery – How Long Can It Go?

Because of nausea and the uncomfortableness it comes with, the dog will not want to drink water. However, that is supposed to improve with time, and in no way should you force it. A day after surgery without the dog drinking any water could mean that some post-op complications have developed and need medical attention.

What Should One Do If Their Dog Refuses To Drink Or Eat?

As you may have picked out throughout the entire read, the safest, best bet is getting on the phone and talking to the vet. If the canine is sickly and does not want to take in anything, you could be dealing with problems like stomach upsets.

Before you get the vet, you can always do something (it could be that you don’t have the money). First, get a tiny bowl of water and present it to the dog. Sometimes, it could take more than that, and thus, you should get a spoon and feed the dog. If it keeps looking away, you can prepare something else like beef or chicken broth. Whatever you do, do it for a few hours and when 24 hours go by, call the vet and talk to them about the situation. They may need to deliver the liquids intravenously to help keep the dog hydrated and thus alive. As the dog owner, you can try using a syringe and giving about 2.5ml of water at a time.

If the dog is not drinking and cannot eat its own food, the best option to go for is rice cooked in beef or chicken broth. You can also look at giving it some boiled chicken.

Whichever option you choose, ensure that you do things slowly. If all that does not seem to work, you should talk to your vet about it.

Final Words

Generally speaking, your dog will need twice as many water servings as the food ones every day. If you leave the dog and spend your entire time away from it, ensure that both food and water are in plenty.

If you’re leaving the dog outside, say a park on a warm day, you should have water with ice cubes, which should stay under a shade. You can always have an auto water bowl with you that will refill by itself and be hard to spill. If the dog tips the bowl over and all the water pours, it may get dehydrated by the time you get back.

Depending on where you will go and how long, you should also leave some food. The ideal thing is that you get someone to check on your dog, especially if it’s one of those summer days where the degrees are way over the roof. Try as much as hard not to neglect the dog for more than 24 hours. Apart from severe issues like dehydration, your dog may also develop anxiety problems. Keep all that in mind.

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