It is important for your Labrador to stay healthy and hydrated. You know that providing access to clean drinking water is vital, especially during the hotter summer months.
There are various factors that affect how much water a dog will drink, including their diet and activity level.
Water intake is a good indicator of overall health and also gives early warning signs of certain medical conditions.
It is important to know what is normal for your Labrador and what to look out for when they start drinking more or less than usual.
Monitoring your dog’s water intake
It really isn’t that hard to keep an eye on your dog’s daily water intake.
Even without actively thinking about it, you probably notice when their water bowl is empty and needs refilling.
You should also notice if you suddenly start needing to constantly refill it more than usual.
But people’s lives are busy and sometimes you don’t notice a change.
It is therefore a good idea to get a base line to figure out what is normal for your Labrador.
This can be assessed by filling up their water bowl to the same level at the same time each day, then noticing how much is left over before the next regular check.
Developing a routine can help you to stay on the ball, and checking the water level at the same time each day is more likely to give you an accurate representation of how much your dog drinks.
How much do Labradors drink normally?
As a very rough guideline, normal water intake for a dog is around 50 mL per kg of bodyweight per day.
This means that a 30 kg labrador would drink approximately 1.5 litres of water per day.
But every dog is different, so it’s important to know what is normal for your dog rather than dogs in general.
What makes Labradors drink more?
There are several factors that can affect the normal water intake mentioned above including the following.
Your Labrador always needs fresh water available no matter what their diet is, however how much they drink will depend on the type of diet they eat.
Dogs that eat predominately dry food and kibbles require more water than dogs on a wet food diet. It can be normal for a Labrador on a canned or raw diet not to drink as much as a Labrador who is on a strictly dry diet.
Water helps to regulate body temperature. Dogs pant in order to cool themselves down by exhaling and releasing water through respiration. To compensate for this release of water, your labrador will tend to drink more in warmer weather.
When we exercise, we lose water through sweating and tend to drink more to make up for it. Dogs too will require additional hydration after exercising since they will pant more to help themselves cool down.
If your Labrador naturally has high energy and activity levels, they tend to require more water than a couch potato.
Medications and supplements:
Many common medications and supplements have side effects including a variance in daily water intake. Common anti-inflammatories, heart medications, and seizure medications can all lead to increased thirst and urination.
It is important to be aware of these potential side effects and ask your veterinarian what to expect.
My Labrador is drinking more than normal
When a dog is drinking more than usual, the first step is to rule out any obvious external factors as mentioned above.
While you may think that drinking lots of water is pretty harmless, too much of anything is bad, including water.
If a dog ingests too much water, commonly known as ‘water intoxication’, they can experience dangerously low sodium levels in the blood, known as ‘hyponatraemia’.
All the excess water can dilute and shift the natural electrolyte balance of the circulating blood which causes the blood cells to swell.
Excess water consumption can have a sudden onset and can be life threatening. By monitoring your labradors water intake regularly, you can judge subtle changes and be aware of when to contact your veterinarian.
My Labrador is drinking too much
There are several things to look for if you suspect your Labrador may be drinking too much and thus be over-hydrated.
These include loss of coordination and staggers, lethargy and nausea, bloat and vomiting, dilated pupils and pale gums, and excessive drooling.
If left to develop, these signs can lead to difficulty breathing and collapse.
My Labrador is drinking too little
If your Labrador suddenly decreases their water consumption, they are at risk of becoming dehydrated. If your dog isn’t drinking enough water this can also indicate certain conditions such as pancreatitis or parvovirus.
Just like with drinking too much water, not drinking enough will cause harmful imbalances in the body.
Water is vital for so many functions such as carrying nutrients throughout the body, aiding in digestion, and removing toxins from the system. If your labrador gets dehydrated, the body won’t have enough water for these essential functions.
Dehydration ultimately causes essential organs such as the kidneys and liver to stop functioning properly. If left in this state for too long, there can be irreversible damage to these organs.
Signs of dehydration in dogs
There are two easy ways to keep an eye on your labradors hydration levels at home. It is beneficial to do these tests on your healthy labrador as well so that you are aware of the normal base line.
Skin tenting is a test of the skins elasticity and thus associated hydration levels. This involves gently lifting the loose skin that is located between your Labrador’s shoulder blades and assessing how long it takes for the skin to return back to its normal state.
In a healthy dog, after the skin is lifted it should snap back into its original position almost instantaneously. If your Labrador is dehydrated, the skin will stay in a ‘tent’ for some seconds and be delayed in returning to the normal position. The longer the delay, the more dehydrated your dog is.
The mucous membranes are the gums, and they too serve as an indicator of adequate hydration levels. A healthy Lab’s gums will be pink and moist to the touch. If he is dehydrated, the gums may appear pale, and they would feel dry and tacky when touched.
How much should my Labrador drink?
Water intake is important.
Not only is water is a vital component of life, but often our dogs water intake is overlooked. It is easy to simply refill the bowl whenever we notice it is empty and then forget about it. For the most part, most people leave their dogs to their own devices and just presume they’ll drink when they’re thirsty.
It is good practice to establish a baseline of how much is normal for your dog, because changes in water intake can serve as the first indicator of many medical conditions.
If you start now and develop a routine around refilling the water bowl and noticing how much is left each time, you’ll be in the best position to notice any subtle changes.
How often do you check your Labrador’s water bowl?
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