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How to Make Your Dog Drink Water

Three Parts:Addressing Serious DehydrationDaily TacticsArranging the Water Dish

Healthy dogs are usually good at managing their own water intake, although this is less true of young puppies and elderly dogs. Unless there are signs of serious health issues, your dog will most likely get enough water after a few minor changes to water bowl placement and diet.

Part 1
Addressing Serious Dehydration

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    Look for signs of dehydration. Most healthy dogs are pretty good at managing their own water consumption. Check for the following signs of ill health or dehydration before you get too concerned:
    • Gently pinch a fold of the dog's skin at the back of the dog's neck or between the shoulder blades, and let go. If the skin doesn't immediately return to the original position, your dog may be dehydrated.
    • Gently press your finger against your dog's gums until the color lightens, then lift your finger. If the gums don't immediately return to the original color, your dog may be dehydrated.[1]
    • Other possible signs of dehydration include lethargy, loss of appetite, or a change in the amount or color of your dog's urine. By themselves, these are not cause for urgent concern unless they are severe or last more than a day.
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    Know the risk factors. Life stages and medical issues can increase the frequency and severity of dehydration. Err on the side of caution if any of the following apply to your dog:
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive panting or drooling can all cause dehydration if the dog does not drink more water to compensate.
    • If your dog is diabetic, pregnant, nursing, very young, or very old, take the dog to a veterinarian at the first suspicion of dehydration.
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    Visit the veterinarian. If your dog demonstrates one of the above symptoms, and refuses to drink water, visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian may give the dog a saline IV or a subcutaneous fluid injection to rapidly restore fluids to the dog.
    • A veterinarian will also be able to test for medical problems that could be causing dehydration, such as kidney stones. After diagnosis, the vet may prescribe medication or a special diet.
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    Give the dog rehydration fluid. If your dog shows symptoms of dehydration and you can't get to a veterinarian immediately, dilute Pedialyte rehydration fluid with an equal amount of water and give about 1 cup (240 mL) of the mixture to your dog once an hour.[2] Pedialyte is available at drug stores.
    • Do not mix this with any other ingredients, or you could cause further damage to the dog.
    • While other rehydration fluids are available, consulting a veterinarian before using them is recommended whenever possible.
    • Inhabitants of the US can use the Pedialyte website to locate the nearest store that carries it.
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    Add flavor and electrolytes to the water. If you can't find any Pedialyte, pour in a little low-sodium chicken broth or diluted carrot juice to the water. This can help replenish electrolytes lost to dehydration, and may make the water more enticing to your sick dog.
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    Use a syringe if necessary. If your sick dog completely refuses to drink, fill a plastic, needle-less syringe with water and squirt it into your dog's mouth. Squirt in the dog's cheek, not directly down the throat, to prevent choking.

Part 2
Daily Tactics

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    Exercise the dog. Dogs need daily exercise, such as a brisk walk or playing in a park or backyard. If your dog doesn't get enough exercise, it may not be losing much moisture to panting, and so won't be as thirsty as a healthily active dog.
    • On long walks, bring along water and give the dog a swallow every ten minutes or so. This can help get the dog in the habit of drinking regularly at home.
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    Feed the dog wet food. Wet food contains a great deal of water already, usually marked on the can as "% moisture content." Replace some or all of the dog's dry food with wet, checking the label or a vet's recommendation to determine how much food the dog needs.
    • Alternatively, soak dry food in a bowl of water for 30–60 minutes before giving it to your dog.
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    Make food only available at mealtimes. Feed your dog once or twice a day, according to your vet's recommendation or the label of your dog food. If food is constantly available, some dogs will mistake thirst for hunger.
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    Let the dog out to pee whenever necessary. If your dog is stuck indoors for eight hours at a time, it could be avoiding water because it's learned that causes an uncomfortably full bladder. Let your dog out to pee whenever it whines at the door, or train it to use an indoor litter box.

Part 3
Arranging the Water Dish

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    Give the dog constant access to water. In a multistory home, put a bowl of water on each floor the dog has access to. If the dog spends part of the day outdoors or shut in a room, put an additional bowl of water in these locations.
    • Try to keep these "water stations" in the same place so your dog knows where to look for water.
    • A dog tied outside may get its chain or rope tangled, preventing it from accessing the water dish.[3] If there is no alternative to tying it up, keep the area free from obstructions and place the water dish next to the stake.
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    Change the water frequently. Empty the water bowl daily and rinse out any debris before refilling it, then wipe the sides with a paper towel. Change the water again whenever you notice hair or dirt floating in it, or whenever the water level is getting low. During hot weather, you may need to check the bowl every couple hours.
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    Consider a pet fountain. These bowl-sized fountains may be more attractive to dogs that prefer running water, or young puppies who aren't used to drinking from a bowl. These are also easier to find for dogs with vision problems.
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    Add ice cubes on hot days. Many dogs prefer drinking cold water. Toss in a couple ice cubes. Do this while the dog is watching, and it may come over to investigate.
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    Make the water more exciting. If you don't want to buy a fountain, try shaking the bowl of water instead, or waving a toy over it. Dropping blueberries or other small treats in the water can also convince a dog to drink as it fishes them out.
    • If the dog still isn't interested, try again after replacing the doggie bowl with an ordinary cup or bowl with a different shape or color.


  • Don't leave your dogs bowl in the sun. Most dogs find warm water less pleasant to drink.


  • If your dog finally starts drinking after much convincing, let it drink in peace instead of praising it. Too much attention can distract the dog from the water bowl.
  • Don't let the dog drink from the toilet; this can be a source of illness-causing bacteria.[4]

Article Info

Categories: Feeding Dogs