Here’s your obvious statement for the day…water is important for dogs! About 80% of your dogs body is made up of water. If you feel like your dog isn’t drinking enough water, you have a reason to be concerned.
Getting your dog to drink more water can be tricky. You’ll see a lot of advice on the internet telling you to add flavor to the water, add water to the food, or even make your dog a smoothie to keep them hydrated. I’m not saying any of these are bad ideas, but they don’t get to the root of the issue. If making your dog a smoothie is the only way you can keep them hydrated, then you’re going to be stuck making your dog smoothies every day for the rest of their life.
With this article, we want to get to the root of the issue and go over the possible reasons your dog isn’t drinking enough water. Once you can identify the cause, coming up with a solution is simple.
You can get your dog to drink more water by figuring out why they aren’t drinking water in the first place. There are seven main reasons a dog will stop drinking water.
- The location of the bowl
- The bowl is dirty
- The water is dirty
- Not enough exercise
- Not enough bathroom breaks
- Pain in their neck when bending down
- Medical issues such as a bladder infection
Identifying the reason is important because it’s impossible to come up with a long term solution if you don’t know why your dog stopped drinking water in the first place.
Get Your Dog to Drink More Water – Finding The Longer Term Solution
Drinking water is an instinct for dogs, just like it is for humans. After all, you don’t see dogs in the wild drinking smoothies, do you? If they stopped drinking water, it’s usually because of a specific reason. From what we have seen, the following seven reasons are the most common.
1) Uncomfortable With the Location of The Bowl
This was actually the case with my parent’s dog. She would always drink plenty of water, then out of nowhere, she just stopped. My parents gave me a call, I asked them if any major changes have been made lately. They said they got a new refrigerator and the water bowl was in the kitchen along with the new fridge.
I told them to move the water bowl to a different room just to see what would happen. Sure enough, she started drinking water again. It turns out she was just afraid of the noise the new refrigerator was making and didn’t feel safe where the water bowl was.
If your dog suddenly stopped drinking water, the first step is to move the location of the bowl and see if they’ll start drinking again.
2) Keep The Water Bowl Clean
Dogs have a fantastic sense of smell. If you never clean the water bowl, it may begin to develop a scent that retracts your dog. You should clean your dog’s food bowl after every meal and clean their water bowl at least once per week.
3) Keep The Water Fresh
Dogs are creatures of habit. When it comes to water, they quickly become accustomed to the taste. They know what their typical (fresh) water tastes like, so if the water isn’t fresh and “up to their standards,” they might not want to drink it.
On top of that, it’s not the healthiest thing in the world for your dog to drink water that has been sitting out for days. For the sake of their hydration and their overall health, be sure to keep the water fresh.
4) Not Enough Movement
One of the biggest differences between domesticated dogs and dogs out in the wild is that dogs in the wild are always moving when they aren’t sleeping. Just like with humans, exercise will build up thirst. Think about the last time you worked out. You probably drank a lot more water during the entire day compared to when you have lazy days and don’t do anything.
Be honest with yourself…how much exercise is your dog getting? Are you taking them on enough walks? Are you playing fetch with them? Does your dog get a chance to run around outside daily?
One of the best ways to get your dog to drink more water is to make sure they’re getting plenty of movement and exercise.
5) Not Enough Potty Breaks
If your dog has free will to go to the bathroom whenever they want, you can skip this section. However, if you live in an apartment and the only chance your dog has to go to the bathroom is when you take them on a walk, this could be why they aren’t drinking water.
Think about it like this. When you have to urinate, drinking more water is the last thing you want to do. The same is true with your dog. When they need to urinate but aren’t getting the chance to go outside, they’ll stop drinking water.
If your dog doesn’t have the free will to go to the bathroom whenever they want, make sure you give them plenty of bathroom breaks. This simple tip alone can help them drink more water. Of course, the more water they drink, the more you’ll need to take them out!
6) Pain When Bending Over
This is much more common in senior dogs, but several medical conditions can cause this to be an issue for any dog, regardless of age.
If a dog has pain in their neck or spine, there’s a chance they’ll be in a lot of pain when bending over to drink water.
If you have a senior dog, or if your dog has been showing signs of discomfort lately, try elevating the dog bowl and see if that will get them to drink more water. If they start drinking more water with the elevated bowl, be sure to schedule an appointment with the vet to see what could be causing the pain.
7) Medical Conditions
Several medical conditions could cause your dog to lose the desire to drink water. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- Bladder infection
- Kidney disease
When in doubt, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with the vet.
Get Your Dog to Drink More Water – The Short Term Fixes
So what happens if none of the above solutions work for your dog? What if you’ve tried them all and your dog still isn’t drinking water? At this point, there’s no question that you should take your dog to the vet.
With that said, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to keep them hydrated. Remember, the following are not permanent solutions and don’t get to the root of the issue. They are “temporary fixes” until your dog starts to drink more water.
1) Put Ice in the Water
This is the first thing you should start with because it’s the easiest. This is a simple way to trick your dog into drinking more water by making them think they are eating. Your dog might assume the ice is food and begin eating it. Not only is the ice helping to hydrate him, but each time he grabs a new ice cube, he’s also lapping water.
2) Flavor The Water
The next step is to try flavoring the water. You can go to your local grocery store and purchase liquid to squirt into water that will add flavor. Just make sure you do a quick search to make sure the brand you bought is safe for dogs.
The better alternative is to make your own flavored water using fruits. Apples, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and oranges are all considered safe fruits for dogs. Slice up one (or more) of those fruits and let them sit in water for about 30 minutes to add flavor, then see if your dog will drink it.
It’s completely ok to leave the fruit in the water bowl as well.
3) Bone Broth
Using bone broth is one of the best ways to get your dog to drink more water. Almost all dogs love the taste of bone broth, and the best part is bone broth is mostly water! Not only will this keep your dog hydrated, but bone broth contains some essential vitamins and minerals that will keep your dog healthy.
4) Pour a Little Water on the Dogs Food
Although this doesn’t provide as much hydration as the methods mentioned above, it’s better than nothing. If your dog is still eating, they’ll continue eating even if their food is a little moist. Test this one out to see how much water you can pour on the food before your dog stops eating it. Start small, and each meal pour a tiny bit more.
Remember, the four methods mentioned above are not meant to be permanent fixes. Use them to keep your dog hydrated while your vet figures out why your dog is no longer drinking much water.
Teach Them to Drink Water on Command
The best way to get your dog to drink more water is to teach them to drink water on command! We all teach our dogs how to sit, stay, speak, and so on. But imagine how cool it would be if you could simply say the words “water” to your dog, and they’ll go lap some water.
The good news is that you can teach your dog to drink water on command, it just takes a little patience (especially if they’re no longer a puppy).
Just like all dog training methods, the key is to create an association in your dog’s brain that a particular action means they’ll get a reward. In this case, it would be when they drink water they get rewarded.
Step 1: Figure out what you want the verbal command to be. For our dogs, we chose the word “drink up.” We didn’t choose water because we say that word so many times throughout the day when talking to each other. Choose a verbal command you probably won’t use in everyday life.
Step 2: Each time your dog drinks water, say the verbal command in a cheerful voice. For example, if you chose “drink up,” next time you see your dog drinking water, cheerfully say, “drink up!”.
Step 3: Reward them with lots of love and maybe a small treat. If your dog is clicker trainer, this would be an excellent time to use the clicker.
Teaching your dog to drink water on command really is as simple as that. Yes, it takes time. But within a few weeks all you’ll need to say is “drink up!” and your dog will go lap some water.
How Do I Know if My Dog is Drinking Enough Water?
It depends on their body weight. The average dog will need to drink at least 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight. So the first step is to weigh your dog. If they weigh 35 pounds, then you’ll want to make sure they drink at least 3.5 cups of water per day.
The way we track how much water our dogs are drinking is to fill the water bowl with the minimum amount of water they need to drink per day. Our dog weighs 47 pounds, so we round up and put 5 cups of water in the water bowl. As long as the bowl is empty by the end of the day, we know they drank enough water.
If you’re going to do it this way, make sure you keep your eye on the water bowl. If they run out of water at any point, fill the bowl back up with fresh water.
It’s ok if your dog goes a day or two without drinking enough water, you just want to make sure it’s not an everyday habit.
What Are The Concerns if My Dog isn’t Drinking Enough?
There are several health concerns if your dog isn’t drinking enough water. The biggest is dehydration of overheating (which go hand in hand). Dogs naturally have a much higher body temperature than humans (around 102). This means it’s easier for them to overheat and become dehydrated.
When your dog becomes dehydrated, you also have to worry about permanent kidney damage. Your dog’s kidneys can only handle so much stress, and dehydration will put a lot of stress on the kidneys
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Dehydrated?
The easiest method to tell if your dog is dehydrated is to perform the pinch test. When you pinch a hydrated dog skin, it should snap right back into place. If it doesn’t immediately snap back, it probably means your dog is dehydrated.
Getting Your Dog to Drink More Water Doesn’t Have to Be a Challenge
When your dog stops drinking as much water, there’s always a reason behind it. Your job as the owner is to identify the cause and come up with the solution. The good news is most of the time the solution will be obvious. Give the 7 long term solutions mentioned in this article a try. If your dog still refuses to drink water, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your vet.
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