Running with Your Dog: Tips for Hydration

A golden retriever drinking out of a bowl in the back of a car

If you love running with your dog or are just starting out, keeping your dog hydrated along the way helps keep them safe and comfortable and supports their recovery.

A brown-and-white pointer running through high grass in a wooded area

How Often Should My Dog Drink?

Before, during, and after a run: Whenever you take a drink of water, you should also give your dog an opportunity to drink. For short runs, your dog might be okay without a mid-run water break, but be sure to bring along water for longer outings. We recommend bringing along a portable bottle and bowl to make water breaks easy for both of you.

A black-and-brown, long-haired dachshund sitting on a rock outside

How Much Should My Dog Drink?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but here is a simple way to calculate: Your dog needs about ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If your dog is a 65 lb. Labrador Retriever, for example, they’ll needs 36 to 65 ounces of water every day. Keep in mind that on hotter days and with more exercise, your dog will need more, and use common sense.

Two black-and-white setters with their blue travel water bowls

How to Get Your Dog to Drink Water

Encourage your dog to drink: 

Drop a treat in the water bowl and say the word “drink” when your dog goes for it; they’ll soon associate the word with the action. 

  • Drop ice cubes into the water bowl; “fishing” for the cubes can result in them drinking some water. 
  • Add a flavored dog-specific hydration supplement to their water. Not only will the taste encourage your dog to drink, but the added vitamins can help expedite recovery time. 

Tip: Don’t let your dog chug water before or after a run or you might find that it comes right back up.

A dog in the woods with its tongue sticking out of its mouth

Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

The signs of dehydration in a dog are easy to spot when you know what to look for.  

  • Grasp the skin on the back of your dog’s neck with two fingers. If it snaps back into place, they’re properly hydrated. If it stays wrinkled, your dog needs water. 
  • Check your dog’s gums—if they’re slimy, that’s a good sign your dog is hydrated. 
  • Poke your dog’s gums to check the capillary refill in them. First, find the base refill time. Choose a moment when you know your dog is hydrated; press your fingers firmly against the gums until the tissue goes white, and then time how long it takes for them to become pink again. This is the baseline against which you can now measure for dehydration. If it takes longer than this for color to return to your dog’s gums, they need water. 

Sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy, and depression can also be signs of serious dehydration in your dog. If you observe these symptoms, seek the help of a veterinarian immediately. 

Two salukis running through a field with rocks and trees

Better Safe than Sorry: Enjoy Running with Your Dog

Be sure to use common sense to keep your dog safe along the way: 

  • Check the weather: if it’s in the 80s and humid, it’s probably too hot for most dogs. 
  • Check the pavement: press your palm against it for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you to touch, it’s also too hot for your dog’s pads. 
  • Time your run wisely: choose mornings or evenings when it’s cooler. 
  • Choose shady running routes. 
  • Take frequent water breaks. 

Stay home if it’s too hot to trot. When the conditions are right, hit the road or trail. When you run with a dog, the benefits are doubled; not only is it great exercise, it’s time spent bonding together outdoors.

A woman and her blaack Labrador retriever sitting in the tall grass of an open field

5 Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

Heat can affect dogs differently than humans. It’s important that you can tell when your pup is in danger. Dr. Madeline Fellin explains the signs of heat stroke, as well as what you can do to help your dog cool down.