We all know that humans need to drink plenty of water each day to stay hydrated and maintain good health. But what about our furry companions? Have you ever wondered if your dog is getting enough water? Or, “How do I get my dog to drink more water”? What are the signs of dehydration in dogs? These are some questions we’ll answer in this article.
Is it important that you know how to get your dog to drink water? Yes! It certainly is. A dog’s hydration level is essential to their overall health. If your pooch isn’t drinking enough water each day or they lose more fluid than they’re taking in, dehydration can occur.
Table of Contents:
The Important Role Water Plays In a Dog’s Body
Virtually every important bodily function relies on water, including digestion, delivering oxygen to organs and tissues, regulating body temperature, and lubricating joints. Water also plays a critical role in assisting a dog’s cells with the absorption of nutrients from their food. Another important function of water is that it helps your dog maintain its body temperature, which is especially important during hot summer days.
And just like in people, dehydration in dogs can cause the loss of electrolytes. Minerals such as chloride, sodium, and potassium have important functions in your dog’s body. A loss of electrolytes can affect the body’s pH balance and muscle and nerve function. The most serious cases of dehydration can cause kidney or other organ failure and may even lead to death.
Obviously, no one wants this for their beloved companion.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Since dogs can’t tell us when they’re thirsty, how do you know when your pooch is dehydrated? Knowing the signs of dehydration can help a dog owner identify the issue before it becomes a life-or-death situation. The following are some of the symptoms:
- Dry nose and sticky gums
- Reduced energy
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of skin elasticity
If you think your dog may be dehydrated, the first step is to make sure he or she drinks plenty of fresh water. This especially important in hot weather. Additionally, he or she might need electrolyte replacement. Giving him or her an electrolyte-enhanced fluid, such as Pedialyte might be an option if they’re not vomiting. However, consult your vet for dosage recommendations.
How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?
So how much water should your dog drink on a daily basis? According to the American Kennel Club, dogs generally need to drink at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Your veterinarian can also guide you on how to make sure your pup takes in enough fluids, based on their specific needs.
Tips and Tricks to Get Your Dog to Drink Water
We put together several tips on how to trick your dog into drinking water to stay hydrated.
Refresh their water daily
One reason for your dog not drinking water may be because the water in the dog’s water bowl smells bad or tastes bad. Water that sits out too long can taste stale of have a different flavor. The change can be due to the concentration of the flavors due to evaporation. This can be enough for your dog, with its keens sense of smell (that is about 40 times greater than ours), to not want to drink water. Make sure you dump any unused water from the day before and replace it with fresh, cool water. Use this time to wash their dish out as well.
Keep It Clean
More than just the taste, however, may be the problem. The water might be contaminated with bacteria or other micro-organisms. According to a 2011 NSF International Study, dog’s food and water bowls are the fourth most contaminated items in a typical home.
How to Clean Food and Water Bowls
Pet dishes should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. If handwashing, place the dishes in a bleach solution1 of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water with contact time of one minute once per week. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all disinfection products for amount of product to mix with water, how to apply, contact time, and rinse and drying requirements.Source: NSF
Change the Type of Bowl
In addition, a study done by by Hartpury University found that the material of the dog’s water bowl was significant. According to the research, over time, the highest amount of bacteria were found in plastic bowl, “but the most harmful bacterial species, including E.coli and MRSA, were most frequently identified in the ceramic bowls.” Stainless steel bowls were found to be the least contaminated.
Add Water to your Dog’s Food
Water can be added to any type of dog food: dry kibble, canned, homemade and commercial raw food. For dry kibble, simply soak it in water and keep it in your fridge until feeding time. You can also use bone broth as a delicious topper.
Wet food is a convenient way to hydrate your pet if you’re concerned that your dog isn’t taking in enough water. You can add it to kibble or feed it as a meal once a day. Or freeze some inside of your dog’s favorite treat toy (like a Kong) for a healthy treat. Extra bonus: wet food helps to satiate dogs better than traditional dry food and often has less carbohydrates and other “filler” ingredients.
Some dogs may not be keen on drinking water but love devouring ice cubes. Letting your dog lick an ice cube can be a good way to get your pup to replenish some fluids. Silicone ice trays make perfect-sized portions.
You can get creative too – try mixing in some low-sodium broth or whip up a smoothie with doggy-friendly fruits and veggies (apples, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, and kale are all safe for dogs and they’re packed with vitamins). Make sure you don’t add sugar or other ingredients that aren’t safe for your pooch. Smoothies should be given in moderation and always check with your vet if you have questions.
Provide More than One Water Bowl
Your dog may be motivated to drink more water if they have multiple bowls to drink from. Keeping a water bowl in any room your dog hangs out is a good idea. Additionally, keeping a water dish outside is important, especially in warm weather.
It’s important to put the bowls in the same place every day, so your dog knows where to find them at all times.
Invest in a Doggy Drinking Fountain
Some pups are more tempted to drink from a bubbling fountain rather than standing water. One benefit of a fountain is that they keep the water a couple of degrees colder than a standard water bowl.
Another benefit of a fountain is that they typically contain filters that can remove impurities from tap water. This can help remove any smells or tastes that may prevent your pet from drinking enough.
Offer Water from your Hands
Sometimes after exercising your dog, or while traveling, it can be challenging to get him to drink from a travel bowl. If you experience this problem, try offering water from your cupped hands. Some dogs love lapping up water from their owner’s hands. It may not be the ideal amount of water that you’d like them to drink, but something is better than nothing.
Reward them with Treats
If you have a puppy or relatively young dog, it’s a good idea to reward them with a favorite treat for drinking water. This will help them relate to drinking water as a good thing and will encourage them to drink as much as they can.
You can also put a treat or two into their water bowl and have them fish it out.
Tempt them with Fruit
Most dogs enjoy snacking on fruit. You could cut some berries or bananas into small chunks and put them in your dog’s water dish and have them fish it out.
During hot summer days give your dog some frozen pieces of watermelon or frozen berries as a healthy treat that will help to keep them hydrated.
Take them out for Regular Bathroom Breaks
A dog may stop drinking water if they have to hold in their pee. The reason why is that it becomes uncomfortable to hold their pee for any length of time, so they’ll avoid anything that makes that sensation stronger.
Be sure to take your dog out to relieve himself on a regular basis. If you’re not available to take them outside, make sure they have access to an area where they can go to the bathroom. Or hire a dog walker/pet sitter to walk them.
Put their food away
Most dogs will choose to eat over drinking. In fact, many times when they’re begging for food, they’re not hungry, they’re thirsty.
Putting their food away about 30 minutes after they’ve eaten will deter them from grazing and they’ll be more prone to drink from their water bowl if they’re thirsty.
Exercise your dog
All dogs need some form of physical exercise every day. Even older dogs and dogs that have conditions that may slow them down need to engage in some form of movement daily.
Without regular physical activity, your dog may gain weight, lose muscle mass, and begin exhibiting destructive behaviors out of boredom or frustration.
Depending on your dog’s breed, age, size, and overall health, it’s generally recommended that a dog receives 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity each day.
Physical activity will make them thirsty and eager to drink plenty of water. Stop for water breaks during long walks, hikes, or a run, especially if you notice your dog panting. Allow your dog to drink enough water to quench her thirst, but not more. Gulping large amounts of water at one time can lead to stomach distress and bloating.
Using a water bottle cap or a bottle with a pop-up spout helps control the amount of water your dog will drink.
A Few Alternative Methods For Keeping Your Dog Hydrated
Here are a few options that are meant to help lure your dog into drinking water. These methods shouldn’t be given in large portions.
These are simply meant to be added to your dog’s water and then gradually cut back on the amount until they’re left with water only.
Broth and Stock
As I mentioned earlier, broth is a tasty way to top your dog’s kibble. However, you can also add bone broth or fish stock to directly to their water bowl.
Not only will it tempt your pup to drink more water but both help with skin problems, arthritis, and some digestive issues.
There are some fruits that are toxic to dogs. For instance, grapes are a big no-no because they’re poisonous. But there are plenty of dog-friendly fruits that you can make into a homemade “juice” to add to your dog’s water.
Apples, melon, pear, and oranges are good ones to try. Make sure that you remove all the seeds before giving it to your pup.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant but most experts agree that much of the time a little bit of cow’s milk or goat’s milk- a tablespoon or two- isn’t going to be harmful or toxic. Just be on the lookout for any signs of lactose intolerance such as bloating, loose stools, vomiting, and excessive gas/flatulence.
If you already know that your dog is lactose intolerant, lactose-free milk is a good substitute. Alternatively, if they have an allergy to dairy, coconut milk is also okay in small amounts.
Last But Not Least
We want to mention that too much water isn’t a good thing, either. Over hydrating your dog may also lead to serious health problems. If your dog drinks a lot of water and has the following symptoms, contact your vet:
- Excessive urination
- Excess saliva
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in gait
Finally, if you’ve tried getting your dog to drink more water by using a few of the techniques we’ve mentioned above and your dog still refuses, exhibits unusual behavior, or changes in gait, we recommend contacting your vet immediately. It could a sign of a serious illness, like a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or pancreatitis.
We hope this information helps you the next time you notice your dog isn’t drinking enough water.