Water is important. We carry water bottles with us, buy water filters, and have favorite water glasses.
It should come as no surprise, then, that water is just as important for your dog.
My name is Michelle Ropp, and I know how hard it can be to get your dog to drink enough water.
Our youngest beagle, Joey, was rescued from the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. He was half the weight he should have been and showed signs of former abuse.
Although he’s grown much braver and happier with time, love, and treats, he’s been scared away from food and water enough times that he is reluctant to eat or drink.
Luckily, we’ve learned a few tricks—and I’m happy to share them with you.
Before we get into it, if you sense that your dog isn’t drinking water due to ill health, make sure to take them to see a vet straight away!
We want your dog to be healthy, so a visit to the vet may be the best bet.
Why Dogs Need to Drink Water
I just want to emphasize that water is important for every animal (including humans), but it is especially important for dogs.
Not only does it keep them hydrated, it also helps them to digest their food.
It helps to cool them down in order to maintain a healthy body temperature, and it is exhaled with every breath.
It moves nutrients into and out of their body and helps with lubricating joints.
Almost every bodily function—for humans and for dogs—requires water.
Without enough water, a dog will become dehydrated and can get sick.
In extreme cases, organs can be damaged or even shut down, potentially resulting in death.
Of course, making sure that your dog drinks enough water and taking them to the vet when they are sick will help to keep them safe.
How Much Water Do Dogs Need?
Generally, dogs need about an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. So, a 40-lb. dog would need, on average, 40 ounces of water per day.
Of course, if your dog is very active, stressed, or if they are out in the heat for more than brief periods, they will need extra water on top of this. Puppies also tend to need more water than adult dogs.
If your dog eats wet food, they will get a small amount of water from their food, and might not need quite as much to drink.
On the other hand, if your dog eats dry food, they’ll need that extra water to help with digesting the kibble.
Water should be available to your dog at all times—even when you are away from home for a while. Usually, this is enough to ensure your dog gets enough water.
Most dogs will happily get a drink when they are thirsty, but in some cases, your dog may need a bit more encouragement.
The Signs of Dehydration
Are you worried your dog might not be getting enough water? Here are a few signs of dehydration to watch out for:
Eyes look slightly sunken or dry
Dry or inflexible skin
Loss of appetite
One way to test for dehydration is to gently pinch a fold of your dog’s skin at the back of their neck (the scruff) and let go.
It should immediately return to its original position. If it moves back slowly or stands up for a moment, your dog may be dehydrated.
For mild cases of dehydration, simply providing water and getting your dog to drink should do the trick.
If your dog is severely dehydrated (usually from an upset stomach) then they may need to go to the vet for an IV.
How to Get My Dog to Drink More Water
Even though water is important for dogs, getting your dog to drink enough to keep them healthy can sometimes be a challenge.
As I mentioned, because of past hardship, our youngest beagle Joey is sometimes reluctant to go get water. One of the things that has helped him a lot is having more than one water source to choose from.
Having multiple water sources means that he can go get water without worrying that he’s intruding on our other beagle, Gunther, or worry about getting underfoot while we’re in the kitchen.
Another thing that helps is using fresh, clean water and changing it regularly. Also, make sure water bowls stay full.
Some dogs drink a lot in one sitting—I’ve seen Gunther drink a freshly-filled water bowl in one sitting.
Bacteria can grow inside your dog’s water bowl, and that can deter your dog from drinking or make them sick, but if you wash it frequently then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Make sure to rinse the bowl thoroughly afterward, too, so that it doesn’t smell or taste like soap (that will discourage your dog from drinking, too).
If you already have a source of filtered water, consider providing that to your pup, too.
Not all tap water is created equal, and if you prefer the taste of filtered water, your dog may feel the same way. It’s one more way to encourage them to drink.
Another way to encourage dogs to drink is to provide a source of running water.
We’ve all heard (or seen) horror stories about dogs drinking out of toilets, but this goes for any source of running water. Given the choice between the two, most dogs go for running water instead of still water.
This is smart on their part since stagnant water is more likely to harbor bacteria, make them sick, or smell funny.
As reluctant as he is to drink from the water bowl, I’ve seen Joey happily stick his whole face in a sprinkler for a drink.
The same allure of running water can be offered by using a dog water fountain like these ones:
Best Dog Water Fountains
1. IPETTIE Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain
It is quiet, uses only a little bit of power, and holds just over 2 liters of water.
With the unique design, dogs can drink from the running streams of water or from the deeper section of the bowl depending on what they prefer. Everything except the plug is washable.
2. PetSafe Drinkwell Multi-Tier Dog and Cat Water Fountain
It filters water, which makes it taste great and keeps it clean for your dog, and has two bowls on different levels depending on what height suits your dog best.
This water fountain uses only a small amount of power, is BPA-free, and is top-shelf dishwasher safe.
3. PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Multi-Pet Stainless Steel Fountain
These nice, long streams will get your dog excited to take a drink and make them feel pampered.
The fountain is stainless steel and top-shelf dishwasher safe, and it filters water to improve taste and keeps it nice and clean.
What if They’re Still Not Drinking?
If, after trying all these things, you still notice that your dog isn’t drinking (or if they are drinking much more than this amount) it might be time to take them to the vet.
There could be an underlying illness or problem which is keeping them from drinking (or making them drink too much).
If your dog is inside for hours at a time, they may avoid drinking water in order to avoid the discomfort of a full bladder. If possible, let your dog out every few hours.
If you are away from home for long periods at a time, consider asking a friend or neighbor to let them out for a few minutes in the middle of the day.
When you’re out and about on a hike or adventure with your pup, make sure to bring water with you, too.
One of Joey and Gunther’s favorite things to do on a hot summer day is walk to the park and hang out there for a while.
Whenever we go, I always pack a bottle of water for me and a bottle of water for the dogs. They get so excited when I pull out their water bottle and happily drink it all up while we are there.
Joey and Gunther aren’t shy about drinking right out of my hands (and Gunther will drink straight from the water bottle)
A collapsible water bowl may make drinking on the go a little easier and more convenient for you and your dog. Here’s a great, affordable example:
COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl
They are made from food-grade silicone, are BPA-free, and hold up to 12 ounces of water (or a cup and a half of dog food).
They come in a variety of colors, are eco-friendly, and clip right onto your backpack, purse, dog crate, leash, etc.
Finally, one more trick I have for encouraging dogs to drink is to toss a few ice cubes into their water bowl.
Our eldest beagle, Gunther, loves ice cubes—especially in the summer. Both dogs seem to appreciate having nice, cool water to drink.
Hopefully, these tips will help to get your dog excited to drink and ensure they stay happy, healthy, and hydrated.
If you would like to teach your dog some amazing tricks, check out this article!