Water: The Essential Training Nutrient

Active dogs require water, especially during exercise, to work effectively. Mild dehydration in your dog can reduce endurance and strength, especially in hot weather conditions. Drinking small amounts of water helps keep dogs cool by dissipating the heat produced from activities. Though most people don’t consider water to be an essential nutrient, it is the most essential nutrient. Water is important for most biochemical processes in the body and is the most important nutrient for survival. 

Water also has an important role in thermoregulation. Exercise is a heat-producing activity, and dogs must be well-hydrated to respond to increased heat production, particularly when exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity. Water helps cool the body’s core temperature. Mild dehydration, even as little as 1%, can make it difficult for your dog to cool down during exercise. Water also helps remove the byproducts of energy metabolism, which also impact endurance and performance. 

An over-enthusiastic or overworked dog runs the risk of heat stress and dehydration, the greatest threats to an exercising dog. Since dogs don’t sweat, except through their paws, their primary ways to eliminate body heat are through panting and moisture evaporation through the mouth. This also results in a significant way to lose body water. A dog’s most significant loss of body water during prolonged exercise is simply through breathing, followed closely by an increase in urine production. 

Though dogs may be distracted by their environment or activity, owners should encourage them to drink a small amount of water every 15 to 20 minutes. A squirt bottle works well for this purpose. Why do this? Even with voluntary access and consumption of fresh water after exercise, dogs rarely rehydrate themselves adequately. A dog’s ability to perform at an optimal level is linked to proper hydration. Water, the essential nutrient, helps keep dogs healthy and hydrated so they work at their best. 


Regularly maintaining hydration in working dogs is important to prolong endurance and thermoregulation, especially at high ambient temperatures. 

Did you know that hydration is an important, yet overlooked, aspect of a dog’s performance? Water ensures proper cell function. Frequent small volumes of water throughout activity are better than large volumes.


To learn more about the importance of keeping active dogs properly hydrated, you may check out these scientific articles.

    • Baker MA. Thermoregulatory Responses to Exercise in Dehydrated Dogs. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1984;56:635-640.
    • Pohoska E. The Effect of Prolonged Restriction of Physical Activity on Exercise Performance in Dogs. Acta Physiological Poonica. 1979;30:337-350.
    • Kruk B, Kaciuba-Uścilko H, Nazar K, Greenleaf JE, Kozlowski S. Hypothalamic, Rectal and Muscle  Temperatures in Exercising Dogs: Effect of Cooling. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1985;58:1444-1448.
    • GoldbergMB, LangmanVA, Taylor CR. Panting in Dogs: Paths of Air Flow in Response to Heat and Exercise. Respiratory Physiology. 1981;43:327-338.
    • Young DR, Iacovino A, Erve P, Mosher R, Spector H. Effect of Time After Feeding and Carbohydrate or Water Supplement on Work in Dogs. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1959;14:1013-1017.
    • Ramsay DJ, Thrasher TN. Regulation of Fluid Intake in Dogs Following Water Deprivation. Brain Research Bulletin. 1991;27(3-4):495-499.
    • Young DR, SchaferNS, Price R. Effect of Nutrient Supplements During Work on Performance Capacity in Dogs. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1960;15:1022-1026.
    • Baker MA. Cardiovascular and Respiratory Responses to Heat in Dehydrated Dogs. American Journal of Physiology. 1984;246(3 Pt2):R369-R374.