How much water should my pet consume per day? I want to make sure my pet is hydrated.

Most healthy dogs consume about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily—so, for a 50-pound dog, that would be 50 ounces (a little over 6 cups) per day.

For cats, that number is about 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight—or, for a 10-pound cat, 8 ounces (1 cup) per day.

However, this number is an estimate for the average pet, and it can be affected by many things. For example, canned food provides a lot more water than dry kibble does. So, pets eating purely canned food will drink less than pets eating kibble, and vice versa.

Also, hot weather, physical activity, medical conditions, and other individual factors can affect water needs.

Here are some ways to evaluate your pet for dehydration:

  • Check your pet’s gums.

Your pet’s gums should be pink (except for dogs and cats who have naturally dark pigmented gums) and moist. Also, when you press down with your finger, the gums should turn white but quickly snap back to a nice pink color (within about one second).

If your pet’s gums are pale, dry, or take longer to return to a pink color when pressed, they could be dehydrated.

  • Check for skin tenting.

Gently pull upward on the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades.

If the skin immediately slides back into place, that’s a good sign. If the skin stays up (like a tent) or is slow to sink back down, your pet may be dehydrated.

  • Look for sunken eyes, lethargy, or changes to urination habits.

However, don’t wait for the signs of dehydration described above to offer your pet water—always keep it available, since most dogs and cats are good at self-regulating their water intake.

To increase water consumption, be sure water in the bowl is clean and fresh, consider purchasing a pet water fountain, and incorporate some canned food into your pet’s daily feeding schedule.