Determining how much water your German Shepherd needs to drink each day is crucial in ensuring your dog is in the best possible health at all times. Basic hydration is essential for all animals but especially important for large dog breeds. We will go into detail about the reasons why hydration is important, how much water your German Shepherd should be drinking, and reasons for why your dog’s water intake might change.
So, how much water should a German Shepherd drink? While the amount of water a German Shepherd should drink will fluctuate depending on climate, exercise and health a German Shepherd will typically require 1 oz of water per pound of body weight
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Why is hydration important?
Hydration is one of the most crucial factors in the health of a German Shepherd. When a German Shepherd loses more fluid than it is taking in, it will start to dehydrate. German Shepherds rely on hydration through water and food, in the same way, that other mammals do. This hydration allows their body to retain normal function, such as lubricating joints and regulating the temperature of the body. A German Shepherd will naturally lose water during the day from things such as panting, urinating and exercise.
Keeping your GSD well hydrated will prevent serious health complications, alongside providing other benefits. Added benefits of maintaining your dog’s hydration level include:
- Aiding the digestive system
The intake of water allows the body to break down the food that the German Shepherd ingests and also aids in ensuring as many of the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream as possible. The water helps in maintaining normal bodily functions, which includes the digestive system. If a GSD is not receiving enough water then the ability for food to be digested fully is diminished, which can result in food not being broken down properly. This can then result in your Shepherd becoming deficient in essential nutrients and causing a further knock-on affect to the body.
- Removing waste toxins in the body
It goes without saying than any waste toxins within the body need to be removed as soon as possible, through urination and defecation. The toxins themselves are not immediately harmful to the body, provided they are removed accordingly before they become too highly concentrated. These toxins are filtered from the kidneys and (using water) are excreted from the body, which is aided by ensuring your German Shepherd is well hydrated.
- Making it easier to check for other health concerns
You will know your German Shepherd better than anybody else, which is why when it comes to checking your GSD’s health you can typically spot any immediately visible problems. This is often the case when it comes to food and water too, as a dog will typically have a behaviour pattern they follow. If your Shepherd’s drinking habits change then it could be an important indication that there is something wrong that may need further investigation. This behavioural shift could come in the form of increasing the amount of water they drink, drinking less water, or even no water at all. Whilst it is normal for a Shepherd’s water intake to vary somewhat (due to changes in heat or exercise for example) it is unusual behaviour that is something to look out and be wary of.
How much water should an adult German Shepherd Drink?
The primary deciding factor for the amount of water that a dog requires per day is its weight. Under the assumption that the dog is in a healthy condition, the dog will typically require an estimated 1 oz of water intake per pound of body weight, each day. It will also differ between male and female dogs due to the difference in the average body weights between the two genders.
Therefore, a male German Shepherd weighing in between 66 – 88lbs, would require between 66 – 88 oz of water intake per day to maintain normal function.
In comparison, a female German Shepherd weighing in between 48 – 70lbs, would require 48 – 70 oz of water intake per day to maintain normal function.
However, this is a rule of thumb and should be followed with caution. You should always monitor your dog’s overall wellbeing to ensure it is well hydrated at all times, especially during temperature changes and exercise.
How much water should a puppy be drinking?
Whilst you would expect a young German Shepherd puppy to drink far less than their adult counterpart, you would actually be surprised to hear that they often require more.
Young puppies will be hydrated from their mother’s milk and will not require any separate water to start off with. However, as they are eventually weaned off of the milk, they will require a source of water and solid food, which needs to be provided in accordance to their weight and activity levels. Your young German Shepherd puppy requires regular hydration in the form of one-half cup of water during each two-hour period of the day. This is especially important during their younger phase in order to make sure they are well hydrated, since they are no longer getting their water intake through the form of their mother’s milk.
As the German Shepherd puppies continue to grow in size and weight their water intake will too. This can vary from 0.5 to 1 oz of water per one pound of body weight, depending on their levels of activity, so therefore it is important to monitor this and adjust the amount accordingly. Frequently weighing the puppies will help to ensure you are always providing the right balance of both food and water for them and keep them in good health.
How much water should a German Shepherd Drink?
How can a German Shepherd Water Intake Vary?
Since a German Shepherd’s water intake can vary based upon a number of factors, we need to take a further look at how changes can potentially affect the amount of water that your German Shepherd needs to drink each day.
Whilst the required water intake of a German Shepherd will primarily be based upon their body weight, there are other factors to consider that can also contribute to increased water consumption.
- Your Climate
If you and your German Shepherd live in a very warm and humid climate, such as California, then it is suggested that your GSD’s water intake is increased to account for the warmer climate and subsequent water loss that would come through them dissipating heat to cool down. If your property is climate controlled then this may not be as much of a concern whilst indoors, however you will still need to consider the climate when taking your dog for regular exercise.
- The Weather
Weather changes will result in you taking appropriate action based upon the varying conditions each day. Therefore, if the weather is sunny and warm you will need to consider areas of shade and additional water for your German Shepherd to be comfortable and remain hydrated.
If your German Shepherd is fed on a dry food diet then a continuously available water supply is strongly recommended, especially during feeding times. As your dog will not be receiving any water from the food itself and will, therefore, require an alternative source of water in order to stay well hydrated. Further information will follow below to discuss the benefits of water food in comparison to dry dog food.
- New or existing health conditions
If your German Shepherd has any new or existing health conditions, then this could impact their water intake and should be accounted for. These conditions could include Kidney disease and Diabetes, in which an excessive amount of water is lost and must be replenished accordingly. It is therefore important to monitor for any changes in drinking behavior that could indicate a significant cause for concern.
There are valid reasons why you should be concerned if your German Shepherds’ drinking habits change, however sometimes it can be as simple as them being increasingly active over a period of time. If you are taking your German Shepherd for walks, playing catch or other physical activities then it is perfectly normal for more water to be consumed during and after these activities.
German Shepherds are a naturally active breed of dog and therefore may consume more water than you expect, if you have been accustomed to another breed of dog for example. Therefore, it is important to keep all of these factors into consideration and determine what their habits are and identify any changes you have noticed.
How to check for dehydration?
Dehydration is a serious concern for all dogs, so knowing the symptoms of dehydration can help you to tackle the problem before it causes serious health concerns.
Some of the most common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Vomiting & Diarrhoea
- Reduced Energy
- Loss of Skin Elasticity
- Sunken Eyes
- Loss of Appetite
The symptom of ‘Loss of skin elasticity’ is easily tested by lifting a small portion of skin on the back of your German Shepherd and determining how quickly it falls back in to place as expected. If the skin remains lifted for more than a few seconds, then your German Shepherd may be dehydrated and require a drink of water.
Most of the common symptoms are easily spotted and providing your German Shepherd only has mild symptoms then the act of providing water to your dog should rehydrate them.
As always, the best treatment for dehydration is prevention. You should ensure that your German Shepherd always has an adequate water supply available to them.
Changing a German Shepherds food from dry to wet
If your German Shepherd is being fed on a dry food diet, then your dog will require more water than if they were placed on a wet food diet. The wet food allows the German Shepherd to receive a large amount of their daily required water intake, due to its 60-80% moisture content. Larger breeds of dogs such as German Shepherds require much more water intake than smaller breeds and therefore any opportunity to replenish this water is important for the dog’s health.
The opportunity for the dog to eat good quality wet food also aids their nutritional support and can sometimes be much easier for the dog to eat than dry food. Usually, this is a benefit if your German Shepherd has any new or existing teeth and gum concerns, in which dry food may become painful to eat. Therefore, the wet food provides both nutritional support and hydration for the dog within their meal.
Overall, your German Shepherd needs an adequate water supply at all times in order to ensure they can drink at their leisure and remain healthy. You should constantly monitor your German Shepherds eating and drinking habits to check for any changes in their behavior and take appropriate action.
You should also consider how you provide water to your German Shepherd, through both available water supply and the type of food you choose to feed your dog. If your dog is on a wet-food diet and their eating habits change then you need to be aware that this can result in the dog intaking less water, and therefore require water to be supplemented through alternative means.
Water provides an essential role in maintaining whole-body health for your German Shepherd and should be taken very seriously to help avoid health concerns. By considering your GSD’s environment, activity levels, and diet you can help to ensure you are doing everything you can for your German Shepherd.
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