Keeping Your Dog Hydrated on Outdoor Adventures

Friend of Klean Jen Sotolongo from Long Haul Trekkers was kind enough to share some great tips with us on how to keep a trail dog hydrated while on the go!  
Her dog Sora is a well traveled pup.  She is an experienced bike tourist and her adventures have spanned continents!  Read on to glean some knowledge from Jen on how to keep your four-legged adventure buddy happy and hydrated while out exploring.   

One of the questions we’re asked most frequently about our adventures with Sora relates to how we keep her hydrated. How much do we give her? How do we carry it? What kind of water does she drink?

Dogs require anywhere from ½ oz to 1 oz per pound of body weight. This figure varies on the amount of exercise your dog gets per day. Puppies and pregnant or lactating dogs require more water. If you feed your dog raw or wet food, they may not be lapping up as much water from their bowl as would a dog who eats only kibble, as they are more hydrating foods.

When we cycle, Sora may run up to 20km per day, depending on the traffic on and condition of the road. At home, we keep the activities high with trail running and hiking, and as you can imagine, active dogs require more water than average. Keeping your dog hydrated is essential to their health and maintaining a healthy amount of water intake regularly will ensure that your pup is ready for the next adventure.


Bring Your Pup Her Own Water Bottle

Sora has her own 20oz insulated Klean Kanteen water bottle. Getting an insulated bottle is super important (for both dog and human!), especially in extreme weather conditions – no one wants to reach for their water after exerting so much energy only to find that it’s as hot as tea water or solid as a block of ice. An insulated bottle keeps the water at a nice temperature, so we never have to worry about the weather affecting its state.


We offer Sora water consistently throughout the day, and at least once per hour when it is hot outside. If the temperatures are above 70°F / 21°C, we stop at least once per hour and offer her water. She doesn’t always want to drink, so we’ll pour the remaining amount onto her chest or on her back.

We also carry a Ruffwear Swamp Cooler to keep her temperature regulated on hot days.

For more info on how we keep Sora cool in the heat and other tips for cycle touring with a dog, check out our post How to Cycle Tour with a Dog.

Create a Trigger Phrase

Each time we stop and give Sora water, we ask “are you thirsty?” This isn’t necessarily a command for her drink water, but it lets her know that’s what we would like her to do. She complies about half the time.

When water is more scarce, I will often put an empty bowl in front of her to see if she goes for it. If she does, then I know that she is indeed thirsty and I will give her a small amount of water. I’ll keep adding small amounts until she seems satisfied.

Travel Water Bowls

We love using Kurgo’s Zippy Bowl for our outdoor adventures. The compact size is fantastic for hikes or walking around town, as it zips into a small triangle and clips to our packs or belt loop with the included carabiner.

At camp, we have a stainless steel dog bowl. It’s super lightweight and we can use it for both water and her food. I highly recommend one with a rubber bottom, unless you love the sound of clanking everywhere (trust us, from folks who don’t have a bowl with a rubber bottom). While cycle touring, we couldn’t always clean her bowls as well as we would have liked, so the stainless steel helps reduce the amount of mold and other yuck that accumulates over time and we’d wash it well when we did find a suitable place to do so.

To avoid mold and other buildup, never leave the bowl filled with water for long amounts of time and always let them dry overnight or during the day when you’re using a more travel-specific bowl.

Be Mindful of the Altitude

We had no idea whether Sora would be affected by the altitude when we traveled from sea level to over 4,700 meters (15,000 feet) in one day. She experienced mild altitude sickness from what we could tell, as she pawed her ears because of popping and she didn’t have quite the energy she had at sea level.

We were super diligent keeping Sora hydrated in altitude and added about a cup of water to her kibble in the morning at at night. Since dogs won’t just drink water because you tell them to, the way to increase their intake is through their food. We also limited her activity to shorter, but more frequent walks so that she could acclimate to the thin air.

To learn more tips on traveling with your dog to high altitude, read my post High Altitude: Will it Affect My Dog?

Wild Waters (Rivers, Streams, and Lakes)

Like humans, dogs can get giardia, or worse Leptospirosis, so unless we knew that the water source was 100% clean, we did not permit Sora to drink from the source. We avoided letting her drink from streams that flowed through cities, or that were near livestock. In certain place, high in the mountains, where there was little trace of humans or other livestock, we would allow her to drink from the water. In much of Patagonia, the water is clean enough for humans to drink. Our basic rule is that if we wouldn’t drink the water, then we wouldn’t let her drink it either. We carry along a Platypus Gravity Works 2.0L Filter System and love how easy it is to quickly get two liters of clean water.

Non-Potable Tap Water

Throughout much of the world, the tap water is non-potable, and while there isn’t a lot of information out there about whether Sora could drink the water, so we just kept to the same rule as we do for rivers. We didn’t want to take any chances with her health and would filter water for all of us directly into our Klean Kanteens before taking off on our adventures.

Visit Long Haul Trekkers for more great articles on adventure travel with dogs.