If you’re thinking that your dog doesn’t drink enough water, you’re probably right. Some dogs need to be tricked into drinking more, both at home and outside.
After all, water is necessary for the proper functioning of our body. If your dog suddenly stopped drinking, you first need to contact your vet and rule out the possibility of a medical problem.
Once you know the issue isn’t medical, you can turn to using various water drinking tips. As turns out, there are many ways to give your dog incentive to drink.
In this post, I’ll tell you how to get your dog to drink more water, and how much he should drink per day. I’ll also mention a few safe alternatives to plain water, as well as the beverages you should never serve your dog.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration in Dogs?
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Dry nose
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite
- Loose skin
- Sunken eyes
- Thick saliva
- White gums
13 Ways to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water
1. Rule Out the Possibility of Illnesses
Before you give these tips a try, it’s important to make sure that your dog isn’t experiencing any sickness. Nausea, for example, can lead to decreased water consumption.
Other issues, such as a bladder infection, urinary tract infection, and/or adrenal gland disease, can also cause a decrease in thirst. If you notice your dog’s drinking habits change, talk to your veterinarian about it just to be on the safe side of things.
2. Give Your Dog Enough Exercise Outside
If your pup doesn’t get out much, he may not be as thirsty as other active dogs. Make sure to walk him regularly, or even take him to the park where he can play with his fellow canines. The goal here is to make him pant and lose moisture.
Dogs who’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, or are otherwise too old for intense exercise should stick to short walks. Especially in the case of arthritis, it’s best to walk them when it’s warm outside.
3. Use a Water Bottle
Dogs can be selective when it comes to water. Some prefer refrigerated tap water or filter water, while others only drink bottled or distilled water
If you’re outside and you try to give your dog water from an unfamiliar source, he may refuse to drink it. Your best bet is to bring a bottle from home, and fill it with whatever water he’s used to drinking.
Apart from preventing your dog from dehydrating, bringing a water bottle for your dog and making sure he’s taking a sip every now and then will help him get in the habit of drinking regularly.
4. Add Water to Your Dog’s Kibbles
Adding water to your dog’s dry food not only helps him get more water, but it’s a great way to moisten his kibbles as well, which also releases some of their meaty scents.
Instead of water, you can use low-sodium broth to make your dog’s meals even more inviting. Simply pour it over his food until all the liquid is absorbed and serve.
5. Mix Canned Food with Dry Food
Canned food has high water content (usually around 75%), while dry food by itself is only about 10% moisture.
By combining both canned and dry dog food, you can help your dog stay hydrated. The best way to do it is to replace some of his kibbles with wet food, according to the label suggestion or your vet recommendation.
6. Take Your Dog’s Food Away After Mealtime
Sometimes, dehydration makes us believe we need to eat when we really need to drink. Since it can be easy to mistake thirst for hunger, make sure your dog’s food bowl is only available at mealtimes.
Ideally, an adult dog should eat once or twice a day. If you don’t want your pup to become a picky eater, leave the food bowl out for 30 minutes, and then take it away. That way he understands that when it’s time to eat, it’s time to eat!
7. Give Him Plenty of Potty Breaks
Housetrained dogs who can’t leave the house for many hours, or don’t use a pee pad, may decide to avoid water altogether as they don’t want to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of a full bladder.
Ideally, you want to take your dog outside for a potty break every few hours. Under no circumstances should he go more than 8 hours without a chance to relieve himself.
If you absolutely must be gone for a fairly long time, hire a dog walker, or train your pup to use training pads so he can relieve himself whenever he needs to.
8. Replace Your Dog’s Bowls When Necessary
Old, damaged, or rusty bowl should be replaced with a new one as soon as possible. Check out the condition of your dog’s bowls, and if they’re damaged at all, they should be thrown away.
When you buy a new bowl, go for either stainless steel or ceramic. Plastic bowls can be chewed and scratched easily, and they also collect bacteria which can be smelly, too.
9. Change the Water Every Day
Just as you wouldn’t want to drink water from a glass or bottle that has been standing around for days, dogs don’t like to drink water from dirty dishes. The water probably doesn’t taste so good, and to be honest, it’s not so healthy either.
Make sure to wash the bowl thoroughly each day before you fill it back up with fresh water. While you’re at it, try to use cold water, as it’s more refreshing and enticing, especially on a hot day.
10. Get a Pet Fountain
For some reason, dogs love to drink from running water. A pet fountain is nice because you don’t need to change the water frequently, and the constant circulation keeps it fresh and more importantly, tasty and healthy.
Look for a water fountain that has a carbon water filter so it can catch dirt and prevent bad tastes and odors. Also, if you have a multi-pet household, make sure there are at least two drinking areas, as well as an elevated dish to help older and/or arthritic pets.
11. Have Multiple Water Dishes
Even if you only have one dog, you should probably consider placing several bowls and fountains around the house. This is especially true if you live in a big place that has more than one floor, or your dog spends a lot of time outside.
Plus, keep in mind that dogs with joint pain sometimes avoid drinking if the water source is too far away.
When water is easily accessible, your dog is more likely to remember to drink, and he also doesn’t have to go far to do so. Elevated bowls are another great investment if you have a senior dog or one who suffers from arthritis.
12. Put Ice in the Water
Help your dog combat the summer heat by putting some ice cubes in his bowl. Or even better, use frozen blueberries or other fruits instead of ice to keep the water cool while adding a little bit of taste.
Warning: be sure to do your research, as some fruits, like grapes, are toxic to dogs.
In addition, these healthy treats will encourage your dog to drink some of the water to reach the fruit at the bottom. Fruits also have a high water content, so even if your dog doesn’t drink a whole lot, he still gets some fluids in.
13. Make Your Dog’s Water Tasty
Here’s a super simple flavored dog water recipe that your pup will go crazy for.
All you need to do is simply take a 1/2 tsp. of sugar-free peanut butter powder and whisk it into your dog’s water.
There are many great powders out there, and they usually have fewer calories than traditional peanut butter. That means you can use them freely without worrying about your dog’s weight. Yet, it tastes just as good as the real thing.
In addition to flavoring your dog’s water, you can even put it in a smoothie for your own tasty treat.
How Much Water Does My Dog Need?
While your dog should have access to fresh water all day long, it’s important to know how much is sufficient, so you don’t have to worry about dehydration.
In general, a healthy dog should drink between 0.5 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. That means about 4.5-9 ounces for a 9-pound Maltese dog.
If your dog is eating canned or homemade food, he may drink less then average due to the higher water content in wet and fresh foods.
Puppies, on the other hand, are different. They need to take small sips of water every 1-2 hours, and should be watched closely in case they don’t drink enough.
Alternatives to Giving Your Dog Water
Bone Broth or Fish Stock
As mentioned earlier in this post, bone broth is a good way to moisten your dog’s food, or even hydrate him when he’s sick. However, make sure the sodium level is low and that there’s no onion or garlic. To make things easier, use a high-quality instant bone broth for pets.
If you don’t have any bone broth on hand, fish stock can be a great substitute, and it may even help with arthritis, coat and skin issues, and gut health.
Cow’s milk isn’t a good idea for dogs. While newly born puppies feed on their mother’s milk for nourishment, they don’t really need it once they can handle solid food. As a matter a fact, many adult dogs are lactose intolerant and drinking too much milk can cause them digestion problems.
RELATED: Can I Give My Dog Yogurt Every Day?
Coconut milk, however, is okay, as there’s no lactose involved. Just be sure to give it to your dog in moderation, and not in place of water.
Any kind of tea with caffeine should be avoided, as dogs are far more sensitive to its stimulating effects. In fact, in higher doses or smaller dogs, too much caffeine can actually lead to poisoning. The same thing goes for coffee, cola, and energy drinks, which contain an even higher level of caffeine.
That said, certain kinds of tea such as Chamomile and Peppermint in low doses are fine. As a bonus, they may also help dogs with tummy aches.
You don’t want to give your dog commercial fruit juice, as it’s likely loaded with sugar, dyes, and chemicals. This is the same reason you don’t want to give him soda.
However, if you happen to make freshly squeezed juice from seedless oranges or apples, giving your dog a little bit to taste is probably okay. Although small pieces of dog-friendly fruits are always better.
A Word of Warning: you should never give your dog any type of alcohol.
Unless they’re pups, dogs don’t really need anything besides clean water. Particularly in the summertime, try to encourage your good boy to drink his water by following the tips in this post.
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!