My Dog Won’t Drink Water: 12 Easy To Follow Tips
Why won’t my dog drink water is something pet parents may worry about from time to time. Water is the basic foundation of life, so if your dog refuses to drink, you must figure out the reason why. Thankfully, in 30+ years of being a dog mom, I’ve learned some simple hacks and tips to encourage dogs to consume more water.
Some starter tips to help a dog that won’t drink water include:
- Purchase a new water bowl
- Clean the water bowl frequently with warm water and dish soap
- Place water bowls in different locations around the house
- Allow your dog to drink some low-sodium soup broth for hydration
- Offer him an ice cube with caution so he doesn’t choke
- And many other suggestions we’ll share in this article
Fortunately, there are many techniques and tips to keep a dog hydrated if he won’t drink water, but if your dog refuses to drink overall, call your veterinarian. This article is designed to get your dog to drink more water along with tips to ensure dogs are well hydrated at home and on the go.
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Why Won’t My Dog Drink Water?
Dogs stop drinking or cut down on the amount of water they consume for a variety of reasons. Dogs have an innate desire to chew, so occasionally he might chip a tooth or cut his gums or tongue. Oral pain can make it painful for a dog to drink.
Changes in a family situation, anxiety, a move, physical or verbal abuse, being left alone for too long, kids going back to school, arguing, or emotional stress can contribute loss of thirst or appetite in dogs. Dogs can’t tell us how they feel, so nonverbal cues are important to recognize before things get worse.
Any change in the type or quality of water can cause a dog to stop drinking. For example, if you switched bottled water brands or changed from filtered water to tap water, dogs may notice the difference. Some dogs couldn’t care less, but there are dogs who turn their snouts up at a change in water source.
Always know what “normal” is in your dog so that when abnormal happens, you can act fast. I keep a log of how much food and water my dog should have for easy reference or should something happen to me. If your dog stops drinking or cuts back on the amount he consumes, think back to any circumstances that may have caused the change.
Cocker Spaniel mom, Ellen Toomey, says her 14-year-old dog, Chloe went from seemingly happy and doing well to having a huge mass appear on her dog’s gumline. It was found during a routine exam, but Chloe continued to eat and drink. Not all dogs will behave in this way, so proper oral care is essential to a long, healthy life.
Dogs who are sick and have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea may refuse to drink water. This can get very dangerous very fast because he is losing moisture and can easily dehydrate.
Hidden Reason A Dog May Refuse To Drink Water
One of the lesser talked about, but very common reasons a dog may lose interest in drinking is due to a bladder or urinary tract infection.
A urinary tract infection is silent but painful, and it can be caused by bacteria or stones. My first Cocker Spaniel experienced many UTIs, and we finally were able to stop them thanks to cranberry capsules added to her diet.
Dogs, like people, feel pressure when they have a urinary tract infection. It may even hurt to try and urinate. The stream slows down to next to nothing, and dogs may squat without any output. In some cases, dogs won’t drink water, or they reduce the amount they consume.
A bladder infection or urinary tract infection must always be addressed by a veterinarian. There are some things you can do to prevent a urinary tract infection in dogs.
How Much Water Should Dogs Drink Daily?
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual 10th Edition, “Dry pet foods contain 3 to 11% water and semi-moist foods contain 25 to 35% water. As a result, dogs (and cats) consuming predominantly canned food generally drink less water than those consuming predominantly dry diets.”
In response, some dog owners add water to kibble to encourage water consumption. This isn’t a good idea because plaque may more easily form on teeth and the food will soften.
Canned dog food contains more moisture, but dogs still need to consume a decent amount of water on a daily basis. Since dogs don’t chew as humans do and don’t have the “side-to-side motion” to break food down, there are other better ways to encourage your dog to drink more water.
The folks at petMD say that as a rule of thumb, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. So a 35-pound dog should consume about 35 ounces, which comes out to a little over a quart of water.
Further, “dogs suffering from illnesses like kidney disease, metabolic disorders (such as diabetes), cancer and pregnant/nursing animals are at risk of becoming dehydrated more readily.”
Is Your Dog At Risk For Dehydration?
Dogs who don’t drink enough water are at risk of dehydration. When your dog’s fluid output is more than his fluid intake, blood flow and fluid volume decrease. This is dangerous and can lead to dehydration.
Read our in-depth article on the topic to learn how to tell if your dog is dehydrated.
12 Easy Tips To Encourage A Dog To Drink Water
Teach Your Dog The Word Drink
No matter how old your dog is or even if he is deaf, teach your dog a word associated with water. For us, the magic word is “drink.” Every time your dog takes a drink of water, say “drink” a few times in a super happy, pleasant voice the way you would if rewarding your dog for a job well done.
When your dog comes into contact with the clean water bowl, say “drink” and maybe even lightly clap. It’s a mini party that your dog knows “drink.”
When my Cocker Spaniel was a puppy, he would saunter over to his water bowl, start drinking, and without scaring or startling him we would say, “drink, Dexter,” or “good boy, drink Dexter.” When he was done, we would say drink again.
If you have a deaf dog, hand signals are the way to go. Here’s what the folks at Deaf Dogs Rock have to say about teaching a deaf dog hand signals. When you see your deaf dog take a drink because you nonverbally instructed him to do so, the effort is so rewarding.
In the same way you taught your dog other words, like sit, stay, food, play, etc., you will teach drink. It’s all about the association of the act with the verbal word. He drinks, you say drink.
Change Your Dog’s Water Frequently
Keep the water bowl clean by scrubbing it with warm, soapy water daily. I use the Scrub Daddy scratch-free sponges ever since I saw them on Shark Tank and love them! You don’t want that nasty slime building up around your dog’s water bowls.
That nasty slime around your dog’s water bowl is called biofilm and is a thin layer of bacteria that adheres to the perimeter of your dog’s bowl unless cleaned.
Put Multiple Water Bowls Around To Encourage Hydration
Not all dog water bowls are created equal. We aren’t fans of plastic bowls because they are very porous, and can easily get scratched, thus creating a perfect environment for yucky things like mold, bacteria, and algae to form.
Some dogs can even develop a sensitivity or allergy to the plastic in their bowl. Lip fold dermatitis and other oral issues are on that list, so avoid plastic. I also get really nervous about the presence of chemicals like BPA in plastics.
Multiple water bowls mean multiple opportunities for the dog to consume water. I am a single-dog household, but if you have a dog who roams the house all day and/or have a multiple dog household, consider spacing out multiple water bowls throughout the house (a few different rooms, floors) for easy access.
Buy a Dog Water Fountain
Dog fountains constantly circulate and filter the water, so it stays cleaner and tastes fresher. Also, running water is often more enticing to a dog, so consider an in-home dog water fountain.
One of our favorite dog water fountains is the PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Fountain. Its free-falling stream of water encourages dogs to drink more water. All the parts are made with BPA-free plastic, and you simply replace the activated carbon filter to keep it fresh.
Place Water Bowls In a Calm Area
Location matters, and some dogs prefer their water bowl not to be in a busy, noisy area of the home. Try moving the bowl or adding additional bowls in other parts of your residence.
Take Water With You On The Go
Dogs can’t ask for a drink while out for a walk, trip, or car ride, so be sure to take cool, clean water with you on the go. I’ve done this for all of my dogs and wish I had a dollar for every time a stranger’s dog stopped by and wanted a drink from our dog’s water bowl. I’d be rich!
Note: I am not about sharing my bowls with other dogs because of viruses, diseases, and bacteria. To each their own, but I don’t know what a strange dog might harbor in his mouth or saliva.
One of my favorite on-the-go water containers for dogs is the Swell bottle. I love how cool it keeps the water for hours and hours on end. I’ve been using the same portable water bottle for Dexter for the past three years. If you prefer something more minimalist that has its own bowl on board, here’s a portable water bottle to try.
Feed Your Dog Fruits High In Water Content
Many dogs love a variety of fruits in their diet, plus many fruits contain a large percentage of water. Fruits high in water and considered safe for dogs to eat in moderation include seedless watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.
Eating fruits alone will not properly hydrate your dog, but petMD says these are the fruits dogs can safely consume. If your dog likes the fruit and they are properly sliced or mashed to prevent choking, allow him to enjoy nature’s natural treats.
Provide Low-Sodium Chicken or Beef Broth
Consider making the water more palatable and pleasing for the dog when all else fails. When my first Cocker Spaniel fell ill with irritable bowel disease, we tried everything, including adding low sodium chicken broth to her water.
Cocker Spaniel mom Julie Anderson says she adds organic chicken bone broth to her dog’s food, which is lower in sodium than cooking broth.
Cocker mom, Christina Haynes, adds unsalted beef broth to her dogs’ food from time to time.
REMEMBER: Never use anything with Xylitol, sugar, or sugar substitutes.
Feed A Whole Food Diet To Your Dog
Dogs who are fed a whole food diet that includes real ingredients, isn’t processed, and isn’t made of extruded bits of kibble tend to be healthier and happier. Many dog food manufacturers tell lies, and they are able to get away with it.
It can be dizzying to figure out which food to give a dog, but the best food is the one that works for your dog. I feed a whole food diet for dogs from Dr. Harvey’s called Canine Health to which I add warm water. I take comfort in knowing the extra source of water added to the food is helping to keep my dog hydrated.
Offer Ice Cubes Or Cool Treats For Dogs
Allowing a dog to lick ice cubes is a great way to promote proper hydration Just be sure the cubes aren’t too big nor too small. Toss that nasty Internet ice cube rumor down the drain with the old water.
“This is not true,” says Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “Dogs do not bloat from drinking ice water on hot days… They can be given as treats or put in the water bowl. Some behaviorists even recommend freezing toys or treats in ice for dogs to chew on.”
However, there are dangers associated with dogs and ice cubes and they are:
- Allowing dogs to chew ice cubes and the possibility of the cube(s) getting lodged in the dog’s throat;
- Dental damage to teeth due to chomping on ice;
Bonus Noms: Here are some cool frozen treats to make for your dog year-round.
Change Your Water Source
We live in modern times and most tap water has changed. In most parts of the United States, bottled water tastes good and is actually better for dogs. If you wouldn’t drink the water, neither should your dog.
We have a filtration system installed on our kitchen sink, drink bottled water, and and serve bottled or filtered water to our dog. Municipal and well water contaminated with bacteria or any number of nasties can harm your dog.
Since hard contaminants in water cannot be smelled or seen, consider testing your home water supply.
Try A Different Temperature or a Treat
Some dogs like room-temperature water, while others may like cooler water. Also, offering a dog treat near the water bowl may encourage them to take a drink after a snack.
Bonus Dog Hydration Tip
Several members in our Club Cocker: Wigglebutts Worldwide Facebook group swear by elevated water bowls. Cocker mom, Celia Campbell, took the advice of her dog’s veterinarian and invested in an elevated water bowl. It worked for her finicky Cocker Spaniel, Angus.
As an added bonus, elevated water bowls also are believed to decrease the risk of bloat in dogs.
Why Isn’t My Dog Drinking Water?
Dogs need water to stay healthy, so you should contact your veterinarian immediately if he refuses to drink. There are many reasons dogs won’t drink water, or very minimal amounts including, but not limited to:
- Urinary Tract Infection: Dogs who can’t control the flow of urine or have difficulty urinating may have a urinary tract or bladder infection.
- Mouth or Tooth Pain: Dental disease is one of the top reasons pet parents visit the veterinarian. Your dog may have dental issues causing him to refuse water.
- Dietary Indiscretion: Did your dog raid the trash? Get people food he shouldn’t have? My Cocker Spaniels always refused water when they had an upset stomach.
- Poisoning: If your dog ingested something poisonous, he may not feel thirsty. Get to a vet.
- Cancer: Cancer manifests in many ways or can be silent. Lack of thirst may be a symptom.
- Foul or Old Water: Water that doesn’t get changed often or sits in a dirty, slimy bowl is very unappealing and unsafe for dogs.
- Fear or Anxiety: Fireworks, thunderstorms, arguments, separation anxiety, or any other stressor may produce an unwillingness to drink or eat in some dogs.
- Canine Dementia: Dogs, like people, may forget to drink if they have dementia.
- Undetected Illness: If your dog has a blockage, foreign object, growth, or some other undiagnosed illness, he may not drink/
Exercise Your Dog To Encourage Him To Drink Water
Since dogs need daily exercise, get your dog used to moving around. If the dog isn’t panting, he isn’t losing moisture and his body may not crave water as much as a more active dog.
In the cooler months, dogs may not be exercising as much so they don’t drink as much water. A slight decrease in water intake is not a cause for concern.
Regularly refusing to drink water on an ongoing basis may indicate a deeper problem, so seek veterinary care for your dog if he or she is consistently refusing water. If my dog didn’t drink water for a day, I’d be very very concerned and at the vet’s office.
Take The Dog Outside To Urinate More Frequently
If there is one thing I have learned in being a lifelong dog parent it is this: Dogs are happier if they can pee more. Their bodies are even healthier if they can pee more. I kid you not. Think about how it feels to hold in urine. If it’s uncomfortable for you, it is certainly the same for dogs.
Knowing the amount of water your dog should drink helps you determine if your dog is drinking too little or too much. Flushing the kidneys and urinary tract is one way to keep crystals from forming and to keep dogs healthy. Take your dog out. Let him pee. Let him sniff. I do this every two to three hours at the most every day with my dog (except during the overnight).
Is your dog a good water drinker, or could he or she use improvement? Bark back in the comments below.
Great tips here Carol!
Delilah is a mad drinker. She would literally drink the entire bowl if we let her (we don’t.)
Sampson, not so much. I have a supplement I’m giving him, and I mix that into a cup of water, so I know he’s getting some liquid. They are both also fed raw, so I know they get liquid in that as well.
Fantastic on the raw and knowing they get the water there. I am one of those panic over water dog moms, too – so it’s good to hear others who keep on eye on it, too!
This is a good post cause mom said I hardly drink water. She sneaks it in my food
Lily (& Edward)
You have a very good mom!
Thankyou for the tips i already have a water fountain and bowels in multiple rooms as my dog isnt a big drinker anyway and he has been unwell recently im gonna try pouring it from
A bottle or even on a spoon to encourage him to drink a bit more it is worrying but maybe im just over worrying it and not seeing him drink.
As much as I try to lead my dog to water, he very seldom drinks when I want him to. He usually opts for drinking out of the toilet!
I have one that does that too. Apparently toilet water is better…..
Great post ! Your 8 tips can apply to kitties too, who drink very few, which can be a big problem for kitties fed dry. Purrs
Thanks and so good to see you here, Claire. I know the kitties love their water and can be difficult to drink. Happy this helps!
This was a very interesting read! I’ve never thought about having to get my dog to drink more water. I always just assumed he drank as much as he needed.
Yes, one never knows how much a dog is consuming water wise until you start to monitor. Thanks for coming by!
Oh wow. We don’t have dogs, so I didn’t know you’d ever need to actually encourage them to drink water like that. Thanks for the great info.
Indeed some animals are hard to get to drink water.
these are all great tips to keeping a dog hydrated! I never really knew about ‘how much’ water a dog should drink, thanks for that info, I’ll keep that in mind when I get a dog… And I love how easy products make it to take with when you’re on the go with pets!
Yes, I love those portable bottles. I even got a S’well bottle for myself.
Sally thankfully drinks a good amount of water but I do like the idea of the fountain I might have to get her one.
Dogs and cats love free flowing water so that would be a fab investment for Sally 😉
This post is so important. I noticed when I go to the park with my dogs, 90% of people don’t bring water for their dogs. You can see the dogs panting and wanting a drink. I’m so glad you also mentioned changing your dog’s water frequently. That’s another thing I see when I visit friends. They seldom change the water and figure if there is water left in the bowl, that’s efficient. Great tips, Carol.
That is sad that people do not bring water for their dogs. I am glad that you are on top of it, Jacqui.
We wouldn’t have thought to take water to dog parks if out somewhere else because all of the d0g parks around us have constant feed water troughs. Good to know when we are traveling.
Happy to help!
Our dog drinks a ton, which I feel is due to him being on medication. He could really benefit from one of those handy fountains.
I guess saying it is to say to drink but to them would be positive reinforcement. That’s a good idea.
Toby does drink his water well thankfully! When he was trying a new food, I had to add water to it too, so he was getting some extra that way! These are such cute dog bowls 🙂
Wow, I don’t have a dog so I never gave this much thought. I know my cat always looks for clean water and when he is anxious or not feeling well he drinks alot!
These are great ways to get your dog to drink more. It is so important in the heat that they stay hydrated.
This is such an important post as the weather is getting warmer. My daughter has a collapsible water bowl. She takes it everywhere for the dogs.
Isn’t it fab for portability?
I have no idea how much my dog is supposed to drink, so thank you!!!! I think he isn’t getting enough now!
I am glad this helped.
These are great tips. My sister in law just got a new puppy so I can’t wait to share this with her!
Oh good – so happy to help
I don’t have a problem with getting gym dog to drink more water. My problem is that when she thinks the bowl is empty she drags it all over the house and gets whatever water is left in the bowl everywhere! LOL!!
OMD hahahaha cute
That’s funny, not to you, I’m sure, but also really cute!😍
Great ways. I will forward this post to my sister for she has a puppy named Pochi that doesn’t really eat and drink much. I hope this could help her get Pochi drink more.
So happy to help
Most of a dog’s body is comprised of water. Adequate water ingestion and hydration is important for them to maintain proper circulation, as well as the health of organs and tissues, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, lung, intestines and pancreas.
We always carry a dog bowl with water whenever we go on long walks or car rides just so our sweet pup is taken care of. Other than that, my vet told me not to worry about how much water she drinks.
You are a great dog parent to take water for her!
These are great tips! I have a 4 pound Yorkie and she absolutely loves water. I still found this helpful, because now I think she may need a couple of more bowls throughout the house.
I am so happy this helped. I am a bit of a water snob and so I give my pooch filtered water and have 2 bowls out for him.
Our Lyla is a good drinker but I do make sure she is not drinking so much as to raise a worry for her health. She once was drinking far too much water and she was actually ill. We had that taken care of for her of course.
Having a clean bowl is so important they do get slimy and gross! I don’t want my baby drinking out of a dirty bowl.
A great article and made me feel better about Lyla’s water consumption and peeing 🙂
You just made our day!
Aww, your pooch is too cute! I always find my son drinks more water if I refill his glass every half an hour or so. He really hates water that’s gone warm and I think dogs will be the same 🙂
A lot of people believe that dog’s drink what they need but in fact they drink what they are given and sometimes they’re aren’t big fans of what we give them!
This is awesome information for any dog owner. I love the doggy bowls show here I will have to check these out. The ice cube thing is something that I always feared with my dog so I would make a slush for him in the summer months. Thanks for sharing the information.
I had no idea how much water they are supposed to have. These are great tips. The doggie bowls are so cute.
The water fountain is a great idea for dogs. I would get one if I were a pet owner.
These are all some great tips. I don’t have any dogs though. I just have three cats. It’s very important to make sure they always get enough water.
Never thought of a dog water fountain. That’s a great idea. Will tell my parents about it.
I lol’d at let the dogs pee more. Yeah I am sure thats important look as a human I feel better when I urinate and get rid of waste I know dogs will too they shouldnt hold it in all day.
I liked your note about keeping the bowl clean and changing water often. This is so true and an absolute must for your pet’s health. Bacteria starts to grow after their first lap of water!
Very good reminder. Oddly I have always big breed dogs, Rotties, German Shepard’s etc and they were all good with drinking water, they were super active and liked to drink water.
These are really helpful tips. I will try them with my little puppy. Thanks a lot 🙂
Thanks for this informative post. Dog owners should pay attention to how much water their dog drinks. If their dog drinks unusually more or less than its normal volume of water, it can be signs of being unwell.
Drinking a lot of water is really important for dog as well as for human and all living beings. Especially this question is vital in summer when there is a danger of a heat stroke. To avoid it we and out dogs should drink a lot of water. Thank you for the useful post.
Thanks for the great suggestions. I have a middle-aged Cavalier who just won’t drink much water. Now that I have started increasing the water she gets with her food mix, she really doesn’t drink. I’m going to try flavoring the water first and see how that goes. The puppy and the kitties drink the water like crazy!
I never thought about teaching them to “drink” on demand. I might give this a try! (The collies love drinking water though, so this isn’t something we usually worry about.)
I am so grateful I taught him this. It works like a charm most times. He’s a good drinker, but it is always good to let him know he needs water. Oh and I associated it with a hand signal, too 😉 Keep me posted on hos it goes!
I took my dogs to the beach this morning, and they refused to have more than a few sips, I’m not sure why. I always pack hydrating fruits and veggies like apples and carrots to help with this, and sometimes even mush the treats into the water to get them interested. Or, I’ll dip my fingers in their water and wet their chins/nose so they lick – anything to get some water inside them on a hot morning!
With Kismet’s tongue water also means keeping his tongue moist. When he will not drink I mix fresh water, a few pieces of kibble, and a little bit of 100% pumpkin and he slurps it right down!
We have a standard poodle puppy (49 lbs currently) that we restrict her water intake because she is a “Mad drinker” (as another reply stated about their dog). If we put out a gallon of water she would try and drink the entire gallon. Amazingly enough she has gotten 3 UTI’s that we are addressing with our vets on changing her diet (this is the first dog we have bought the expensive non-filler foods and having more issues than ever before! Go figure!)
It is suggested to give a dog “flavored water”. What can be used to flavor water other than salty broth/low salt broth?
Thank you for an AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL website that is full of helpful tips/stories!
My older standard poodle has too much protein in her urine. I noticed she is not drinking as much as she used to. I am changing water more often and washing bowl more often, but she still only drinks about twice a day. I have reverse osmosis water and usually put some ice in it. I have her on a lower protein diet, but the lack of drinking worries me. She gets a mix of high quality kibble, canned and raw food.
Have you tried a water fountain like the ones from PetSafe, Roberta? Dogs like the sound of running water and may be more inclined to drink more.
Hi, thank you so much for the information. What natural food diet do you use for your dog? I’ve been trying to find the perfect balance, but feel it still effects her Ph. Would love a good recommendation. Thank you!
We like Dr Harveys and the Honest Kitchen.
Water is truly an imperative part of our lives. Not just for us but for our pets as well. Technology has been a great savior when it comes to meeting our requirements and thus we have a brand new people and pet water dispenser that allows our pet to have access to varied temperature water. It’s a must-have appliance and now it even works best for our pets as well. Thanks for the information provided.
My dogs used to give me a hard time about drinking enough water, especially one of them in particular. I got creative and started buying bone broth to add to their water and they won’t stop drinking now. There are many great products on the market like Buster’s Brew bone broth tea, Ossio broth, and others. Try one of those and you’ll never turn back.
Thanks for your great advice we bought for Sadie the Dog Water Fountain. and she has taken to it a like a fish to water
My 8 month old Havanese won’t drink water but will eat ice from outside. How can I get him interested in water again?
Thank for sharing this article. Very interesting.
thanks for the information
We give our pup bone broth, it’s a great way to get him some hydration and nutrients with a taste he loves! Echo Bone Beverage and in the beef flavour is our favourite. They even sell it at our favourite restaurant in NYC so he gets to have something while we eat 🙂 Anyone having troubles getting their dog to drink should give it a go!!!
thank you for these tips.
I boil some chicken and freeze the broth in cubes. Store cubes in the freezer . add two cubes in the bowl once a day and Fido just laps it up.
Great tip with the ice cubes, thank you so much.