“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” So states the classic idiom, and it would seem that the same occasionally goes for dogs.
You know your pet needs water to hydrate, but you are frustrated that they will not drink the water that you offer them. Sound familiar? Do not despair!
There are several tricks to employ that will help you ensure your four-legged friend gets the fluids they need to be healthy.
Keep reading for several ideas on getting even the pickiest pup to drink enough water.
How Much Water Does My Dog Need?
Regardless of breed, size, or activity level, it’s imperative that you provide a source of fresh, cool drinking water 24/7. If your dog has access to several rooms, it might be a good idea to lay out more than one bowl in various places.
In general, a dog requires about one ounce per day for every pound of body weight. This means that a 60-lb dog will need to ingest at least a half-gallon of water for the day.
This amount can vary based on a few factors:
- Weather – In the heat of the summer months, your dog needs extra water to stay comfortable, just as humans do.
- Exercise – With greater exertion, they’ll need more hydration to replenish the fluids lost playing ball or out on the trails.
- Diet – If you feed your pup classic dry kibble, the water requirements above apply. If instead, you feed them a diet of partial or entirely wet food, this will somewhat mitigate their hydration. (But that doesn’t mean you should limit their access to water!)
Familiarize yourself with signs of dehydration, such as lethargy, vomiting, and dry gums and nose. Though it doesn’t always mean a life or death situation, these symptoms are a warning that you absolutely need to get some fluids into your dog as soon as possible.
The worst-case scenario is taking them to the vet to administer an IV. However, there are several steps to travel through before resorting to these measures.
Why Won’t They Drink?
There are many reasons why your dog may not want to lap up the water you offer them. It’s possible they simply don’t feel thirsty, even though their body could use the hydration.
If a dog is getting used to a new environment or unfamiliar surroundings, it may be hesitant to eat or drink for a short period. This is instinctive, and no cause for worry unless it persists for more than a day or two. (Of course, during that time, they still need to drink!)
After an intense exercise session, your dog might prefer to lay in the shade or indoors next to a fan, panting like crazy to cool down. In this post-workout state, their first thought isn’t going to be to find a water bowl.
But after half an hour, if they still haven’t drunk anything, it’s good to encourage fluid intake to replenish everything they burned off with activity. This is where the tricks below can come in handy.
Though it sounds ridiculous, some dogs are picky about textures and locations, just like humans. If they won’t drink from the bowl you set down for them, try moving it to another space and see if they’re more likely to wander towards it.
They may also not like the bowl you chose. Different materials, depth, and width of the bowl are all factors to consider. For example, if your dog has a shorter snout or ears that dip into the water while they drink, that may hinder their attempts.
It’s also possible they don’t like the taste of the tap water in your house. In this case, a filtration system might go a long way towards getting your pup the water they need.
Despite some good reasons for being uninterested in water, they must be hydrated regardless. Let’s look at some tips that will entice any dog to replenish their water.
What Are Some Ideas?
If you’re at your wit’s end trying to get your dog to drink, try one of these suggestions…
Add Fluids to Dry Food
No problem getting them to eat? The easiest and most basic option is to mix a little water into your canine’s kibble. Don’t add enough to be mushy – just enough to hydrate the food so that when they eat, they’re also intaking water.
Other fluids like lactose-free milk and broth work magic for their flavoring (more on this below).
Offer Ice Cubes
Sometimes, a dog prefers the crunch of ice to boring old water. Though it seems silly, that little bit of extra interest might be the motivation they need to reach their hydration quota! Some dogs even consider ice to be a snack on its own.
However, keep in mind that a measurement of ice doesn’t have the same water content as the same volume of liquid. When it freezes, the ice expands to take up more space, so upon melting it doesn’t emit the same amount of water as it looks.
If your pup doesn’t show interest in ice either, try a doggie slush. Pour chicken or beef broth into an ice cube tray and let it sit for half an hour, then dump it into your dog’s bowl. Even if they turn up their nose at plain ice, it will be hard for them to resist a meaty scent.
And speaking of broth…
Mix Water With Tasty Treats
Just because water is the #1 beverage of choice for hydration doesn’t mean that’s all your dog can drink. Of course, the majority of their fluid intake should be water, but it’s also okay to mix with something with a little flavor. Doing this will be an exciting treat for them, and also encourage them to drink more while they’re at the bowl!
The best way to add flavor to a dog’s water is to try beef or chicken broth or other cooking stock. Don’t add too much, as it could upset their digestive system. But a ratio of about 90 percent water to 10 percent broth will be enticing enough to do the trick without upsetting a dietary balance.
Offer Fruits and Veggies
There are plenty of produce items with excellent water content you can feed to dogs. They will appreciate the satisfying crunch as well as the taste! Try apples, watermelon, berries, cucumber, carrots, celery, or broccoli.
Change Their Water Bowl
Dogs don’t know how good they have it. Some of them persist in being choosy about their food and water items, no matter how much you pay for them.
No luck drinking from their current bowl? Try a different size or material to see if that suits their majesty’s royal inclinations. There are enough variations of dog bowls on the market that you’re sure to find something your picky pooch will prefer.
Materials like glass, stainless steel, and ceramic are all worth trying. You might also vary the height and width of the bowl to see if that’s what’s bothering your dog. Depending on physical features such as the length of their nose, they may be selective about how it feels when they drink.
Some dogs are more interested in running water. There are home water systems that incorporate a slow-trickling fountain that might catch their eye. Many times, the outdoor water sources at dog parks do this to encourage drinking from all types of pups.
Lastly, try offering your cupped hands and see if they will drink right from there. Your dog trusts you to care for him, so this can be a bonding experience as well as helping them quench their thirst.
What If They Still Aren’t Interested?
Of course, if your dog doesn’t want to drink water over a prolonged period, they may not just be choosy. This could be a sign of a serious health condition that your vet should know about.
Bladder and urinary tract infections, kidney problems, and diabetes can all present as a lack of thirst. If your pup isn’t eating, and especially if you notice lethargy as another symptom, treat this as cause for alarm. Call your vet immediately to find out the best course of action to keep your dog safe and hydrated.
Even if it’s not a life-threatening situation, there could be something in your dog’s mouth that’s bothering them. Check their mouth, lips, and gums for items like splinters or open sores that might sting when they try to drink water.
Every dog requires a basic amount of water each day to be healthy. Though it’s frustrating when they won’t drink, give them a little time and patience. There are tricks to use to get an uncooperative dog to drink even when they don’t want to.
Barring certain medical conditions, your pup should eventually drink enough water to restore its system and be comfortable. This will give you peace of mind, as well as keep them happy and healthy. Then you can move on to your next adventure!