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Pug Dog Water Requirements & Issues


While every good owner puts a lot of thought into what they offer to their Pug for main meals and healthy snacks, water is often overlooked. It’s really easy to simply fill up a bowl and leave it for a Pug puppy or older dog to drink at will. However, there are quite a few water elements that play a huge role in your Pug’s overall health.

Very similar to humans, canines are made mostly of water. A dog’s body is approximately 60% water. The brain and skin of a dog is 70% water (don’t worry, this is true for you as well), blood is a whopping 82% and the lungs are 90%. So as you can imagine, making sure that your Pug drinks enough H2O is very important to his health. 

In this section, we are going to discuss:
  • How much water a Pug needs to drink each day to stay healthy
  • Surprising signs that a Pug is not drinking enough
  • Helpful tips to make sure that your Pug drinks enough and stays hydrated
  • When a Pug has decreased or increased thirst
  • Why tap water can cause a slew of health issues
Pug water needs
Ted, 7 years old
Photo courtesy of Jim Magri

How Much Water a Pug Dog Needs

There are general guidelines regarding how much water dogs need, however the Pug is a special breed. There are a couple of reasons why Pugs need a bit more water than the average dog:

1) Because the Pug is a brachycephalic breed (flat faced), he cannot breathe as well as his long snout counterparts. Add to this the fact that many Pugs have elongated palette and/or stenotic nares (pinched nostrils)… 

and this can be to a small extent that does not require surgery yet lends to a Pug having a bit more trouble breathing… this means that it is common for Pugs to breathe a bit faster and/or heavier than many other breeds.  
When a dog exhales, he loses moisture. Since Pugs often have deeper pants than other breeds, this means that more moisture is being lost. If this is not replaced, dehydration can occur.
2) The Pug is prone to dry skin problems. Since skin is comprised of 70% water, without proper hydration Pugs can develop skin issues much easier than if they drank an adequate amount of water on a regular basis. Some of the conditions that can develop include red, irritated hot spots, flaking and peeling, sore areas (this is common on the elbows) and/or itching. 

General canine drinking guidelines suggest 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight. However a Pug dog should have 1.5 ounces per pound of body weight; and this number can raise as high as 2 ounces depending on the weather, the Pug’s activity level and what type of food he eats (canned wet food or home cooked food will contain more water than kibble). 
Let’s look at a quick chart of water intake guidelines for Pugs:

Weight of Pug Dog /  Daily Recommended Water Intake

5 lbs. = 7.5 oz. 
10 lbs.= 15 oz.
15 lbs. = 22.5 oz.
20 lbs. = 30 oz.

So as you can see, a full grown adult Pug that is close to 20 pounds should be drinking close to 4 cups of water each day.
Why Hydration is So Important
Every major body function depends on water. Just some of the benefits of having enough H2O include:
  • Transports nutrients
  • Helps regulate body temperature
  • Lubricates joints (particularly important for the Pug breed in regard to knee and hip issues)
  • Allows the body to move food through the intestines and prevents constipation
  • Is needed to flush toxins out of the body
  • Improves skin health
  • Boosts the immune system
Rio, 2 and 1/2 years old
Photo courtesy of Priya Purusotham (from India)

Surprising Signs of Dehydration

Many dogs are slightly dehydrated without owners being aware; they lack the obvious signs of a medical emergency situation, yet it can have quite an impact. Just a 1% decrease in normal body water can result in:
  • Trouble focusing - A Pug may not come when called, may have trouble learning a new trick, etc.
  • Moodiness – Studies have shown that all mammals (human and canine alike) can easily slip into cranky, bad moods if they are lacking just a bit of H2O. This can manifest as being irritable, depressed or having a lack of enthusiasm to walk or play as normal. 
  • Muscle and joint discomfort – Without enough water to properly lubricate the body, a Pug may have sore muscles and joints. This is especially relevant for older, senior Pug dogs and may result in the dog having more trouble rising from a down position and/or having problems getting a good night sleep as he would otherwise. 
Common Symptoms of Serious Dehydration

If a Pug was left home alone and his water bowl spilled over or if he was taken out in warm weather and not given water, a lack of adequate drinking water could quickly turn into serious issues. In regard to not drinking enough and/or losing water more quickly than it can be replaced, the signs include:
  • Sunken in eyes
  • Weakness
  • Excessive drooling – This may be watery, however slobber may also be very thick and drop down in gobs. 
  • Heavy panting – This will become increasingly worse without treatment; a dog will often stick his tongue out further and further as his struggles progress.
  • Red gums – The color will get progressively darker if not treated; dogs in the dangerous stage of heat stress may have purple gums
Without treatment:
  • Increased body temperature above 103 F (39 C)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Kidney failure
  • Shutdown of organs
  • Eventual death
Pug with binky
Photo courtesy of Gaily

How to Encourage a Pug To Drink More

Since H2O is so important to a Pug’s health and even just a small drop in fluid levels can take a toll on both physical and mental abilities. Owners who have Pugs that refuse to drink are rightfully concerned. 

Luckily there are some easy ways to make sure your Pug is drinking enough:

1) Never assume that your Pug knows how much water he needs. It will be up to you to oversee this. Keep the guidelines in mind (see above). If your Pug is still a puppy and has not yet reached his/her adult weight, remember to keep adjusting daily amounts as he grows. If you have a goal each day of how much your Pug should drink, measure it.  It is far easier to meet the goal this way than just ‘eye balling’ it.  

2) Always keep water fresh and clean. Water that is not changed out during the day can become filled with slimy particles of food and can even have a top layer film of saliva that makes it very unappealing to dogs. In addition, room temperature water is often ignored over nice, cool water. We’ll discuss filtered VS non-filtered water ahead, however the goal should be to keep a nice supply of clean and cool water available at all times.
Part of keeping the water fresh will include keeping the bowl clean. It should be scrubbed with hot water and dish soap every single day. 

3) Bring water with you, even for your daily neighborhood walks. While a Pug will drink when you get back home, in general he/she will drink much more water if you offer some at the halfway point of a walk and then also lead the dog to the bowl once back inside. 

Whether you are out for a 20 minute jaunt of exercise or are bringing your Pug to the store, taking a break and offering water will help this breed cool down, get his breath under control and refill on fluids. Using a canine travel container helps make this easy if you choose the type in which the lid serves as the bowl. 

4) Switch out the water bowl for a fountain. Canine water fountains are fantastic for two reasons: 1) A quality fountain will filter the water and 2) The constantly flowing water makes a dog much more willing to drink it. If your Pug needs encouragement to drink more water, this is an effective method to include in the overall goal of maintaining proper fluid levels. 

5) Offer water-packed foods for healthy snacks. If it’s time for your Pug to have a treat between meals and you’re concerned that he’s not drinking enough, offering something that has a high water content will serve two purposes at the same time. Certain fruits are super healthy and safe for dogs to eat, are low in calories and the natural sugar (fructose) is absorbed slowly due to the fiber content and therefore will not spike insulin or cause a 'sugar high'.

Some good choices include watermelon (92% water, .6 grams of fiber & 46 calories per cup), strawberries (92% water, 2.9 grams of fiber & 46 calories per cup) and raspberries (87 % water, 4 grams of fiber and 33 calories per half cup).
What’s great about these foods is that they can be given fresh or frozen, given alone or mixed into food and most Pug dogs simply love the taste. 

A quick little tip is that if you place some small pieces of fruit in your Pug’s water bowl, most likely he will drink up lots of H2O will trying to lap up the tasty treats and this keep him even more hydrated. 

Changes in Thirst

When a puppy or dog is suddenly not drinking as much as normal or has a noticeable increase in thirst, the most common reason is a health issue. This type of change should not be overlooked; please remember that the earlier a dog is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and the easier it will be for the vet to offer treatment. 

Some common health issues that cause increased thirst (Polydipsia ) or decreased thirst (adipsia) include but are not limited to:
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Excessive low protein diet
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Oral or dental pain
  • Poisoning
* If a dog were to completely refuse water and ingest no fluids at all, this could be fatal in as little as 3 days.

* If a Pug is drinking a bit of water but not as much as he needs, this can lead to severe dehydration and corresponding organ failure in as little as a week (this will vary depending on the puppy or dog’s activity level, how hot it is out, etc.).  

Drinking much more than normal may be due to being excessively hot and since this breed can have trouble breathing in hot, humid temperatures, steps should be taken to cool the dog down (stop activity, bring him into the shade or a cool house, place cool wet towels on his body, etc.) however if increased thirst does not relate to the weather or activity and occurs for more than 3 days in a row, this is your sign that a vet visit for a complete examination is needed. 
black Pug dog puppy
Lola, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of Sanchit Gupta

Why You Should Not Let Your Pug Drink Straight Tap Water

The tap water in the United States is deplorable in the majority of cities and towns. Whether it comes from surface water (lakes, reservoirs, etc.) or groundwater (public wells), it is downright shocking what is legally allowed to be in water that comes out of the kitchen tap. 

Tap water can contain as much as 60,000 possible chemical compounds of which only 91 are regulated via the Safe Drinking Water Act and of those that are, they are allowed to exist in ‘low’ levels and even so, medical experts recommend that pregnant women, young children under 6 years old and those with compromised immune systems do not drink it at all. So, can you imagine how bad this is for our dogs with body weight similar to a young toddler and with water being the only liquid that they drink? 

If a Pug is given unfiltered tap water, here is just a small sampling of what he/she may be ingesting:

Arsenic – This has been classified as a cancer causing agent yet is allowed to be in tap water. While the amount is regulated, several major cities in the US have failed to keep it at ‘safe’ levels.

Fluoride – This is exceedingly toxic to canines and is one of the main reasons why human toothpaste is dangerous to use when brushing your Pug’s teeth. This chemical that was once used as rat poison is found in the many public water sources. It has been shown to cause both brain and kidney damage.

Chlorine – This is added to water to kill bacteria however it has been clinically proven to cause serious cell damage, leading to tumors. 

Trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids – These two by-products of chlorine that are thought to cause cancer and reproductive problems. 

Factory runoff, pesticides and even rocket fuel – Thousands of chemicals are allowed to be in tap water and only deemed safe if drank by healthy humans over 6 years old and this is based on simply one 8 oz. serving and not years of ingestion. 
Pug outside in the summer
Dollar, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Kulwinder

How to Offer Safe, Clean Water to Your Pug

There are a couple of effective choices to make sure that your Pug is drinking clean, safe water:

1) Use a filtering device on your kitchen sink tap - A filtering device attaches to the faucet and have replaceable filter cartridges. 

2) Use a filtering water pitcher - These are a great choice because you don't have to bother with attaching a large device to your sink and these are really easy to use.

You can choose from a wide variety of sizes, depending on if it's just you and your Pug or a larger family. 

You fill this up with tap water, and as you pour the water out, it is effectively filtered, taking out all the chemicals and only leaving pure, fresh H2O.

3) Bottled water – While not an option for everyone, it is relatively cheap to give a Pug dog bottled water. 
A full grown Pug of 20 pounds should drink approximately 4 cups per day. A gallon contains 16 cups and therefore would last about 4 days. In many nationwide supermarkets, two gallons will cost $1 and those 2 gallons would last for 8 days… we’ll round that down to one week. That means that to give your Pug safe water, it would cost less than $5 a month. If your local store charged twice the price of this, it would bring this up to $10; doable for some or a good temporary choice for others if undecided to go with the kitchen filter or canine fountain. 


Water is such an essential part of a dog’s overall health that it’s important to make sure that your Pug is drinking enough. When properly hydrated he will have more energy, a better mood, less aches and pains and will be able to focus better than if he was missing even 1% of his proper fluid level.

Bring any changes in thirst to the attention of your Pug’s veterinarian and please do consider how toxic tap water can be for our pets. 
Did you find this article helpful? If so, you'll love The GIANT Book of Pug Care (available in both hard copy & eBook)
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