How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water When Sick?

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water When Sick?

German shepherds’ bodies are composed of 80% water. That being the case, German shepherd dogs, whether healthy or unwell, need water. Even so, a sick German shepherd dog needs water more than a healthy one does.

Remember, high dehydration increases pulse. And a high pulse rate consequently increases the dog’s beat.

The results? Insufficient blood pressure! All of a sudden, your dog’s life begins to hang on a weak thread.

So, how long can a dog go without water when sick?

A sick or dying German shepherd can go without water for about 3 days. However, on the third day, the effects of dehydration begin to show up and affect vital processes in his body. If your GSD can’t drink water, mix water with Pedialyte in a ratio of 50 by 50 and give him. However, always consult your vet.

What is German Shepherd Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when your  German shepherd dog loses more body fluids than he is taking. His body, therefore, lacks enough fluids to carry out vital body processes.  

Many things may cause it, but vomiting and diarrhea are some of the causes of dehydration in German shepherd dogs.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water When Sick?

Active dogs get dehydrated much more than non-active dogs. German shepherds are active breeds; hence they need to stay hydrated, especially during summer. Water makes all the processes in your German shepherd’s body successful.

The kidney, brain functionality, saliva production, and digestion become easy, and your GSD enjoys a long healthy life.

Always ensure there’s plenty of clean water at your German shepherd’s exposure. Wondering how much is enough for your German shepherd dog?

A German shepherd dog should take at least 2.5 times the mass of his daily food intake.

That is equivalent to half or 1½ ounces of clean water per body mass.

Fortunately, German shepherds aren’t pushed to drink water, of course, unless they are unwell.

A sick German shepherd dog can go for at least 72 hours without water. If he is taking wet food, a German shepherd can go for a little longer. Maybe 4 up to 5 days.

So, what do you do when your dog doesn't drink water?

How Do I Get My Sick German Shepherd Dog to Drink Water?

Change the Water

Your German shepherd could be sick because of drinking dirty water. This happens if you’ve not changed his water for a couple of days.

You can tell the water is not good for him if the water bowl is dirty. Water that has been in his bowl for some time might also be stinking, hence making him unwilling to drink.

Therefore, clean the water bowl and change the water.

Use Ice Cubes

If your sick German shepherd is eating but not drinking water, you could try to have some ice cubes beside his favorite meal.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water When Sick

Ice cubes are good for a hydrated dog. However, give them to him in moderation as they can cause tooth breakage in German shepherd dogs.

Add the Number of Water Cans

If your sick German shepherd dog can walk but is unwilling to drink water, try placing various cans of clean water in different spots of your house.

You can also try to use bowls of different colors and designs just to attract his attention.

Add Sugar

A teaspoon of sugar in your German dog water bowl could work wonders. Firstly, if he is having diarrhea or vomiting, he is equally feeling weak. Sugar makes him want to drink water as it smells good. Besides, it energizes him and gives him some extra strength during the sickness period.

Use Cotton Balls

For an extremely sick German shepherd dog that is unable to walk, soak cotton balls in the water. Next, squeeze the wet cotton balls into his mouth.

He will leak the balls. While at it, drink water.

Give Him Wet Food

Whether you’re giving your German shepherd cooked, kibble, raw, or canned food, you can add some water to make it wet.  Dry food is relatively 10 percent moisture. That’s not enough for a hydrated German Shepherd dog!

So, add water to make the food wet.

What are The Signs of Dehydration in Dogs?

It’s crucial to know when your German shepherd dog is dehydrated. Since dehydration causes death, you might save him from the monster just by knowing the signs of dehydration.

Dry Gums and Nose

A well-hydrated German shepherd’s nose is usually wet. If, therefore, you notice cracks or signs of being dry, then he is dehydrated.


Dehydration reduces the flow of blood in your German Shepherd’s muscles. Consequently, your German shepherd feels feeble and exhausted all the time, even if he has not been playing.

He, therefore, wants to spend most of the time sleeping.

Depleted Skin Elasticity

Hydration makes the German shepherd’s skin return to its place as soon as it’s pulled out of place. A dehydrated German shepherd’s skin takes a while before it resumes its rightful position.

Low Appetite

A dehydrated German shepherd has difficulty digesting food as well as swallowing it.

This challenge makes him unwilling to eat. As such, their appetite lowers.

Sunken Eyes

German shepherds’ eyes sink due to lack of water. Lack of water also causes dryness to the muscles that support the dog’s eyes; hence they sink.

Increased Panting

When it gets too hot for your German shepherd, he begins to pant too much. Remember, German shepherd dogs don’t sweat. So, panting is their natural way of showing they’re getting dehydrated. Therefore, when you see him panting excessively, he needs water.

Color of His Pee

While other illnesses may cause your German shepherd’s pee color to change, dehydration is also a culprit. When your German shepherd is less hydrated, his pee is dark yellow.

A pale and light yellow German shepherd’s pee is a sign he is well hydrated.

Why Would a German Shepherd Dog Not Drink Water?

There are many reasons that would make a German shepherd dog not want to drink water. Here are some of the most common ones:


When age catches up with your German shepherd dog, he may be unwilling to walk around the house to his place of water. Consequently, he overlooks the need for water and spends that time resting.

Also, aging German shepherds are less active and, hence spend less time playing. Being inactive also makes them less thirsty.

That, however, doesn’t mean he should stay dehydrated. A good trick would be to give him wet food.

Dirty Water

Like us, German shepherds like clean, fresh water.

The realization that the water is dirty or smelly makes him walk away thirsty. Not good!

Change of Environment

German shepherds have a strong sense of smell. They can, therefore, sense when they are in a different zone and decline to take water.

It helps to carry the container he has been using to drink water to entice him.

Being Inactive

Inactivity reduces the urge to drink water. As such, if your German shepherd’s need to drink water has gone down because he has been indoors for a couple of days, there is no need to worry. You can play indoor games with him if it is winter and see if he takes water after that.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Water When Sick

Note, however, that even after being inactive, your German shepherd should not go for more than 24 hours without water.


Some sicknesses may cause your German shepherd’s need to drink water to go down. Such includes urinary tract and bladder infections.

German shepherd dogs with diabetes may be unwilling to drink water. The same applies when he has a kidney problem.  

How Long Can a Dying German Shepherd Dog Go without Water?

German shepherds, like any other dog, may fall sick for one or more days. Depending on the condition, they may be unwilling to take water. Consequently, get dehydrated.

It’s normal to panic and wonder how long a German shepherd dog can live without water.

A dying German shepherd dog can go up to two consecutive days without water. In exceptional cases, three! Nonetheless, at this point, he is much dehydrated, thereby risking his life.

So, what happens in his body within those three days of lack of water?

Day One to Day Three

If you have been giving your German shepherd dog water every day, he is likely to feel restless on the first day he goes without water. 

Since he is unwell, his body temperature could be high. Thus, the need for water could be higher than usual.

That means he will spend the better part of the day with a high urge for water but still survive.

The next day, especially if your dog is not eating well due to his current health condition, most likely, his life will be hanging by a weak thread.

Remedy On or After the Third Day

Chances for the sick dog’s survival are minimal on and after the third day. Do not give him cold water. That could cause more harm than good.

Call your vet and explain the situation. According to the current situation, he will advise the best way forward.

The Verdict

If, in any way, your German shepherd dog gets hydrated because of unavoidable circumstances, weigh the chances of his survival before spending too much money on him. If a professional vet says it is possible to save his life, then try to do so.

If he says chances are unpredictable, sorry, you might just watch your friend dying! 

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