By Andrew Fischer

How much water should a Labrador Retriever drink each day?

Water is necessary for life, and having the correct amount is essential for your Lab’s health. 

It’s important to keep an eye on your Lab’s water intake so you know he is properly hydrated. Monitoring your dog’s water intake can help you spot any drastic changes that could be a symptom of serious health issues. 

A general rule of thumb is that a healthy Labrador should drink between 0.5/0.6 and 1 ounce (17-30 ml) of water per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight each day. 

Make sure to spread your Lab’s water intake over the day. Especially young puppies are unable to monitor themselves and are prone to over-drink. 

There are various factors that affect the amount between the upper (1 oz  per pound) and lower (0.5 oz per pound) limits. Those factors include your dog’s activity level, health conditions, weather, diet, environment, age and size. 

Labrador's diet

How much dogs drink will depend on the type of food they eat. 

A dog eating mainly wet canned food needs substantially less water than a dog fed only on dry kibble. It’s quite normal for a Lab on a raw diet to drink less water than one that eats only dry kibbles. 

There’s nothing wrong with feeding your dog dry food during hot days, just make sure they have plenty of water to go with it.

Labrador's age and size

Obviously an older and larger Labrador requires more water than a small puppy.

Sticking to the 0.5 to 1 oz of water per pound of body weight should work most of the time. Labrador puppies usually need a bit more water per pound of body weight than an average adult dog. Puppies need to consume something near the upper range of the limit of 0.5 – 1 oz per pound. Don’t give puppies all the water in one go as they are not as sensible and tend to overdrink. Pace their water intake throughout the day and fill their bowl every couple of hours. 

Activity

When Labradors exercise they lose water through sweating and panting and need to drink more to make up for the loss.

An active Lab perspires and pants much more than one that sleeps all day. Active dogs therefore need to rehydrate after exercise.

Make sure that your Lab’s water bowl is full of clean and fresh water before and after you exercise with your dog.

Health Conditions

A number of diseases can alter the normal water intake  and urine output of your dog.

The most common of these diseases include diabetes, kidney and liver failure and Cushing’s disease.

If your dog’s water intake changes significantly and he demonstrates any of the following symptoms it’s recommended you visit a veterinarian.

  • Excessive panting
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Poor balance
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased ability to think
  • Coma
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Collapse
  • Changes in mental awareness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Darker urine
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry nose, gums, mouth

Medications

It’s not uncommon for many medications to cause changes in your dog’s urine output and water intake.

Certain medications can lead to increased thirst. Various heart medications or anti-inflammatories have this effect. They may indirectly potentiate the water retention effects of vasopressin.  This may not cause any serious issues for your Labrador but if the side effects seem particularly strong you should contact your vet. 

Ask your veterinarian about the impact of your dog’s medications on his water intake. It’s essential for dog owners to be aware of these side effects.

Weather

Dogs pant more in warm weather to cool themselves down. Labradors (or any other dogs) need to drink more in warmer weather to compensate for the release of water through respiration and sweating. 

If your Lab drinks much more just as a reaction to a hot weather then there’s no need to worry.

Monitor your Lab's water intake

It’s always a good idea to find out what’s the normal water intake for your Labrador.

The easiest way to do that is to fill up your dog’s water bowl to the same level at the same time every day and to notice how much is left when you come to refill it the next time. 

By doing so each day you will be able to notice if your Lab suddenly changes his drinking schedule.

You should also notice if you suddenly start needing to refill it more than usual. However, our lives can get busy, and sometimes, we might not notice a change in drinking behaviour. 

How much water should an adult Labrador drink

How much an average adult Labrador needs to drink can be found in the table below.

A general rule of thumb is that a healthy Labrador should drink between 0.5/0.6 and 1 ounce (17 – 30 ml) of water per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight each day. 

Don’t worry too much if your dog drinks slightly more or less than the amount described in the table below. As long as they are in that general range then they’ll be getting the right amount of water. 

If your dog suddenly drinks far less or far more than the amounts described below, there may be a serious health condition which requires medical assistance.

Dog weight Normal water intake
2 lb (0.9 kg)
1 - 2 oz (30 - 60 ml)
3 lb (1.4 kg)
1.5 - 3 oz (44 - 89 ml)
4 lb (1.8 kg)
2 - 4 oz (60 - 118 ml)
5 lb (2.3 kg)
2.5 - 5 oz (74 - 148 ml)
6 lb (2.7 kg)
3 - 6 oz (89 - 177 ml)
8 lb (3.6 kg)
4 - 8 oz (118 - 237 ml)
10 lb (4.5 kg)
5 - 10 oz (148 - 296 ml)
12 lb (5.4 kg)
6 - 12 oz (177 - 355 ml)
14 lb (6.3 kg)
7 - 14 oz (207 - 414 ml)
16 lb (7.2 kg)
8 - 16 oz (237 - 473 ml)
18 lb (8.2 kg)
9 - 18 oz (266 - 532 ml)
20 lb (9 kg)
10 - 20 oz (295 - 591 ml)
24 lb (11 kg)
12 - 24 oz (355 ml - 710 ml)
28 lb (13 kg)
14 - 28 oz (414 - 828 ml)
32 lb (15 kg)
16 - 32 oz (473 - 946 ml)
36 lb (16 kg)
18 - 36 oz (532 - 1064 ml)
40 lb (18 kg)
20 - 40 oz (591 - 1182 ml)
44 lb (20 kg)
22 - 44 oz (651 - 1301 ml)
48 lb (22 kg)
24 - 48 oz (0.7 - 1.4 l)
52 lb (24 kg)
26 - 52 oz (0.77 - 1.5 l)
56 lb (25 kg)
28 - 56 oz (0.83 - 1.65 l)
60 lb (27 kg)
30 - 60 oz (0.89 - 1.8 l)
64 lb (29 kg)
32 - 64 oz (0.95 - 1.9 l)
68 lb (31 kg)
34 - 68 oz (1 - 2 l)
72 lb (33 kg)
36 - 72 oz (1.1 - 2.1 l)
76 lb (34 kg)
38 - 76 oz (1.1 - 2.2 l)
80 lb (36 kg)
40 - 80 oz (1.2 - 2.4 l)
84 lb (38 kg)
42 - 84 oz (1.2 - 2.5 l)
88 lb (40 kg)
44 - 88 oz (1.3 - 2.6 l)
94 lb (43 kg)
47 - 94 oz (1.4 - 2.8 l)
100 lb (45 kg)
50 - 100 oz (1.5 - 3 l)
106 lb (48 kg)
53 - 106 oz (1.5 - 3.1 l)
112 lb (51 kg)
56 - 112 oz (1.65 - 3.3 l)
120 lb (54 kg)
60 - 120 oz (1.8 - 3.5 l)
128 lb (58 kg)
64 - 128 oz (1.9 - 3.8 l)
136 lb (62 kg)
68 - 136 oz (2 - 4 l)

If your Labrador exceeds the daily water guidelines in the table above on a very hot and active day, his excessive drinking may be just a reaction to the weather conditions and there’s no need for concern.

Keep your dog hydrated

In the case when you are going to be away from the house for an extended period of time, you should use an auto replenishing water bowl so that your Lab has always a sufficient supply of water throughout the day.

If you use a regular bowl make sure there is always some water for your dog in it. Refill it multiple times per day if needed.

Another way to make sure your dog gets plenty of water is by adding water to your dog’s meal. Your dog will happily slurp up the added water while he eats his meal. 

My Lab drinks too much water

When your dog drinks a little above the the 0.5 – 1 oz per pound of weight rule and he seems perfectly healthy otherwise you don’t have to worry too much.

When your Lab drinks much more than usual, isn’t active and appears lethargic it can indicate a number of health issues that can range from diabetes to bladder infection. 

Drinking too much water is not as harmless as it seems. Dogs that ingest too much water can experience low sodium levels in the blood. Hyponatremia, which is a low sodium concentration in the blood can decrease your dog’s ability to think and cause nausea, seizures and coma. This can be life threatening. Monitor your Lab’s water intake closely to be able to contact your veterinarian if necessary. 

If your Labrador drinks way above the normal range then this can also lead to overhydration. If you suspect your dog may be ingesting too much water you should look for signs of lethargy, poor balance, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, confusion, pale gums and bloating. Contact your vet if you observe these signs. 

My Labrador doesn't drink enough water

Dehydration in Labradors is quite common but may be very serious. Your Labs always needs fresh water available no matter what their diet and physical activities.

Dogs that suddenly decrease their water intake are at great risk of becoming dehydrated. Just like overdrinking, not drinking enough causes harmful imbalances in your dog’s body. Dehydrated dogs are unable to remove toxins from their bodies and their kidneys, livers and other organs are unable to function properly. 

It’s not always possible to tell exactly how much water our dogs have drunk as they can easily have an unseen slurp somewhere. 

If your dog’s water bowl stays unusually full then you should check whether they have found an alternative water source like a river, puddle or pond.

How to test if my Labrador is dehydrated?

There are a few ways you can test if your dog is dehydrated.

The first test you can do is to check your dog’s skin elasticity. Pinch your dog’s skin. If it doesn’t snap back into its original place immediately your dog may be dehydrated. The longer the delay, the more dehydrated your dog is.

Another test you can do is to check your dog’s gums. Press the gum so that it gets white. Release your finger and count how quickly the colour changes back to its original state. The gums of a healthy dog should refill almost immediately. The gums of a dehydrated dog can take up to 4 seconds to refill fully. 

You can also check your dog’s nose. A Labrador’s nose should always be wet to the touch. If it’s dry then your pooch may be dehydrated. 

If you do these tests and your Labrador shows these signs of dehydration you should consult with your vet as there may be an underlying health condition.

When should I visit a vet if my dog refuses to drink water?

Especially very young, very old, pregnant and nursing dogs can dehydrate rather easily. 

If your dog doesn’t have a sufficient water intake over an extended period of time and demonstrates any of the following symptoms of dehydration, it’s recommended you visit a vet as soon as possible.

  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Collapse
  • Changes in mental awareness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Darker urine
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry nose, gums, mouth

Your vet will give your Lab a saline or subcutaneous fluid injection to restore his electrolytes and fluids. He will be also able to test your dog for any medical problems that could cause dehydration.

You can read more about dehydration in dogs in THIS ARTICLE