BULLETIN ONE: New Understanding of Water Balance and Strategies for Hydration in Dogs, April 2005.


It is our job to anticipate the dog’s needs and to make the water attractive enough so he will drink in preparation for physical or stressful activities…prevention of dehydration is the preferred method.

Dr Arliegh J Reynolds, Veterinary Surgeon, PhD

Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition,

College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, New York.


Water is the most essential, yet often the most overlooked, of all nutrients. Owners spend a lot of time figuring out what and how much food they should feed their dogs. However, we must remember that training, showing and exercising changes a dog's water requirements at least as dramatically as its requirements for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. 


A dog may tolerate a dietary deficiency in one of these nutrients for several days or even weeks before any adverse effects on its performance or health are observed. In contrast, dehydration may lead to immediate diminished performance and, in severe cases, even to death within hours of its onset.

The factors which contribute to water loss in a dog are complex and constantly changing.  Dr Reynolds and other Veterinary Research shows:


Beware the panting dog!


Exercise is a key factor that causes the most remarkable increase in water loss observed in active dogs. This is due to the increase in evaporation from the mouth and respiratory tract. Depending on the dog's exercise intensity, and the environmental temperature and humidity, evaporative water losses may increase 10-20 fold during exercise, or 85 to 150 grams per hour [1][2] [3]Dog owners may not recognise how much water their dog is losing because dogs pant to cool rather than sweat through their skin, hence this water loss is not obvious.


Dog can lose 6% of body weight before stimulated to drink.

The health concern is that there is a time delay from the need to drink water and when the dog experiences the dehydration necessary to stimulate drinking.[4] O’Connor’s research found that a dog can lose up to 6% of body weight before stimulated to drink.[5]





Dogs, like humans, need to drink BEFORE & DURING exercise.



Prevention is better than cure.

During this time delay the dog will experience significantly higher body temperature, reduced cardio output, and blood flow.[6][7][8][9] These negative health effects are the same for humans. This is the reason humans now know to drink before feeling thirsty and ‘drink 8 cups of water a day’, to prevent even mild dehydration.


Human Health Professionals tell us, if you wait to drink when you are thirsty, you cannot drink enough during exercise to rehydrate. Successful athletes drink prior to and in the early stages of the race, before they become thirsty.


Research shows dogs should drink before exercise. Recommended amount is 500 ml [10]or 10ml/kg body weight[11] 20-30 minutes prior to the exercise. For endurance activities, dogs should take more frequent water breaks






How do you get a dog to drink in preparation for exercise?


Do your own tests...

a.      water loss

b.      prevention

Dr Reynold’s concluded specifically in his research “Flavouring the water to make it more palatable has long been a successful way of getting dogs to drink.” Prevention is much better than cure when it comes to water loss.


This can be done by a stock cube in their water or by a product specifically designed to solve this problem such as Aqua Dog K9 Drink.


Dog Owners can test effects of hydration for themselves very simply:

Quantity of water lost: Place hand in front of heavily panting dog, feel the water content and/or weigh dog before & after moderate to heavy exercise.                                        Prevention: Before exercise give flavoured water. After, see difference in reduced panting & increased energy. Bigger difference for more active dogs.


[1] A Reynold. Hydration Strategies for Exercising Dogs, In Reinhart, GA and Carey DP, eds, Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition Volumn 11. Wilmington, OH, Orange Frazier Press, 1998 259-267

[2] WJ O’Connor, Drinking by Dogs during and after running, American Journal of Physiology, 1975 Sep;250(2):247-59

[3] Dr Pigott, Veterinary Surgeon, Study, Jack Russel 7kg lost 350gr in 40min, Rockwieller 28.2 kg lost 900gr over 10km (no urination), Sydney, Australia, Feb 2005

[4] DJ Ramsey, Rolls BJ, Wood RJ, Thirst following water deprivation in dogs, American Journal of Physiology, 1977 Mar;232;(3):R88-92

[5] WJ O’Connor, Drinking caused by exposing dog to radiant Heat, American Journal of Physiology, 1977 Jan;264(1):229-37

[6] MA Baker, Thermoregulatory responses to exercise in dehydrated dog, American Journal of Applied Physiology, 1984 Mar:54(3):635-40.

[7] MA Baker, Cardivasular and respiratory response to heat  in dehydrated dog, American Journal of Applied Physiology, 1984 Mar:426(3 Pt 2):R369-74

[8] MA Baker, E Turlejska, Thermal panting in dehydrated dogs: effect of plasma volume expansion and drinking, American Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, 1989 Mar:413(5):511-5

[9] LW Chapman, Baker MA, Cardiac output of dogs exercising in the heat, American Journal of Physiology. 1984 Jul (1 Pt 2):R124-6.

[10] A Reynolds, 1998, recommendation based on 20kg Dog for short intense sprint activities.

[11] O’Connor, 1975 et al,


Background on Aqua Dog


We are an Australian Company leading Dog Hydration Health Research in the world.  This bulletin is first of six on new Dog Hydration facts. In the bulletins we are seeking to present the global research on Dog Hydration Health.


Our customers whose dogs drink before exercise see reduced panting and tiredness (see testimonial). This drink is also used by lactating dogs, is safe for diabetic dogs, recovery from exercise, traveling and boarding. It is not intended to replace water, but get them to drink to prevent effects of dehydration.


Aqua Dog K9 Drink, is a 100% Australian innovation and comes in both chicken and beef flavours and there are necessary vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes to assist in the hydration process. Veterinary opinion, rationale and review of the product can be provided if requested.


This product is now available online via RSPCA NSW and Pro-Vet NSW (distributor to Vet Practices) and around Australia through Woolworths and Pet stores. Store locations can be provided if requested.


Our Hydration products are available in overseas markets in the USA, Taiwan and Singapore with help of AUSTRADE.  Email contact – andrew.larkey@dogplus.com.au   

Website (very basic) – www.dogplus.com.au

CONTACT DETAILS:   Andrew Larkey: 0418 320 395 or 02 9403 5331


Andrew Larkey was New Products Manager for Coca-Cola Amatil, before starting this field of Pet health.

This product is produced on a human drinking bottling line within ISO 9001 & HACCP certification.


Email Testimonial – Glen Powys, Maroubra, NSW


“My dog, Ringer is a collie/cattle dog cross and gets out the back of my place with the boys once or twice a day – the boys (x3) take a tennis racquet and two balls each and Ringer turns himself inside out chasing about 6 balls at once.


For months I have looked at him when he came back in and flops down panting like he is about to die – just assumed that was how it should be I’d just tired him out.


I got a bottle of the AquaDog the other day and based on the theory that you wouldn’t run a marathon yourself without having a drink first, I got Ringer to drink about half a bottle before we went out the back (presumably he only drank it because of the taste, not because he knew he was about to exercise !!).


When we came back in he was noticeably NOT panting and didn’t go straight to his water bowl as he normally would.”


ATTACHMENTS:  Further technical information on Dog Hydration & Dehydration.

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