How do I encourage my dog to drink water on an adventure?

There are a couple of ways to ensure your dog stays hydrated during an adventure, and your approach really depends on your dog.  Some dogs can be trained to drink directly from the hose of a water bladder.  The bladders in the Ruff Wear Palisades Pack™ have a twist valve on the end of the hose to make lapping up water much easier than using a bite valve.

If drinking directly from the Palisades Pack bladder hose is not an option for your dog, pack along a collapsible bowl such as the Quencher™ or Bivy Bowl™, then fill as needed.  We recommend using the water from your hydration pack to fill the bowl because it is easier to access.  When a refill is needed, use the bladders your dog is carrying in their pack to refill yours.

How much water should I bring?

The amount of water a dog drinks on an adventure depends on their age, weight, breed, diet, and energy level.  You know your dog better than any calculation, but here’s a good place to start.

What if my dog won’t drink the water?

Some dogs naturally lap up massive amounts of water, while others need to be encouraged to do so, especially if they are outside of their normal routine and water source.  Here are a few tips for getting your dog to drink water on command:

  • Praise your dog and give him or her a treat when taking a nose dive into the water bowl.
  • Add water to their dry kibble (similar to how we put milk in our cereal) to help them hydrate.
  • Keep water in sight, and in mind.
  • Consider flavoring the water with chicken or beef flavored broth, diluting it more and more until your dog is guzzling only pure H2O.

Why do I need to bring water for my dog?  Can’t they just drink from a natural water source?

Dogs will often drink less in new environments due to the different taste of the water.  They may also drink less if excited by the day’s adventures, which could leave them parched.

Finally, remember that still and non-moving water present potential problems, such as bacteria and parasites that are harmful to dogs. Even though Rover may drink out of puddles and toilets, still lake and pond water can be contaminated with Giardia.  The best option is to bring along water from home.

How can I tell if my dog is thirsty?

Fatigue, weakness, tremors, or temperature elevation are indicators severe dehydration.  Other indicators include increased heart rate, panting, bright red gums, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, increase in temperature, and confusion.

A quick trick for determining hydration levels is to grab the skin on the back of your dog’s neck.  Give it a tug, and if the skin snaps back, it’s a good indicator that your dog is hydrated.  If there is very little elasticity in the skin, your dog is probably dehydrated.

3 thoughts

  1. I offer water at every stop, about every 1,000 meters. I take the collaspable bowl, put a little water in and add as she drinks. I also drink at the same time. I have noticed that we have formed a pattern, and it keeps the bladder bags balanced, I drink the same amount as she does. We both stay hydrated.

  2. On our most recent backpacking trip, I realized our dog would remain thirsty rather than drink from a cold, crystal clear, mountain stream. One lap and she was finished. I knew she needed water, as we had a significant climb, sure enough, she drank deeply from her portable bowl when I used water from my bottle. I agree, it is easier to re-fill my bottle from her hydration packs on the Palisade Pack then attempt to struggle with her packs on the run.

  3. You could also train your dog to a “drink” command. Granted, I think our boy managed that on accident; he likes water quite a bit so that drinking was “reward” enough to train him.

    When we bring him to a bowl and say “Drink!”, he’ll dive right in. If he’s honestly not thirsty at all, he’ll lap once and then look up at us with a, “Is that good enough for you?” expression. 🙂

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