Most dogs that eat a home-prepared diet don’t drink nearly as much as those that eat bagged foods, because fresh food contains at least 70% moisture. Still, hard-working animals need to be well hydrated to perform well. Dehydration can cause fatigue, poor performance, weakness, muscle cramping, decreased coordination and therefore injury. In addition, dehydration can cause the heart to work harder in an effort to move blood through the bloodstream and risks overheating. So how much is enough and when should you start to worry?
The amount of fluid required to rehydrate depends quite a bit on how much fluid the dog has lost. To get a better idea of what might work for your dog, weigh him/her before and after workouts. The difference is mostly water so that is about how much liquid your dog should be putting back in the body during the course of the exercise. Now that you have a goal, you may also have a challenge in getting your dog to drink this amount.
Sports drinks for dogs are popular. Many if not most contain added color and/or preservatives. Dogs don’t need these expensive designer waters, but they do like water with some flavor. The most successful way to do this is by offering meat-based broths with a pinch of salt.
Make a lean broth by boiling meat and/or bones in a pot of water. Once cooked, strain the broth and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Remove any fat that has risen and congealed on top. Pour the broth into ice cube trays. Place frozen cubes in a travel bag and place the bag in a cooler packed with ice. Offer your dog the frozen cubes or allow the cubes to melt and offer the broth between exercise sessions.