The average dog needs approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight over a twenty-four-hour period. For example, if a dog weighs ten pounds, she will need about one cup of water each day in order to be properly hydrated. Of course, this does not take into consideration dogs that are very active or mother dogs that are producing milk. These dogs will need even more than the recommended one-ounce per pound recommendation.
Drinking more water than necessary can indicate a health issue, but a dog’s refusal to drink water is also troublesome. In fact, a dog’s refusal to drink water should give you cause to worry. A dog must have a certain amount of water because it’s the chief way to keep the dog hydrated. Unlike us humans, dogs do not sweat. They cannot use this method to maintain body temperature. The only sweat glands a dog possesses are on the bottom of its paws, but this won’t help a dog to naturally cool off. Drinking water is really the best way for Fido to stay cool, or maintain a healthy body temp.
However, there are some fairly innocuous reasons why Fido might refuse water. Let’s discuss some potential reasons why a dog won’t drink water. Not all of them warrant a trip to the vet.
Reasons Why a Dog May Refuse Water
1. A Change in the Weather
Some dogs will naturally slow their intake of water when summer ends and cooler fall weather temperatures settle in. You may notice a decrease in Fido’s water intake when the seasons change. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it does not mean your dog is experiencing health issues.
More than likely, Fido just isn’t as thirsty. If you live in an area where summers are hot and humid, not only do you feel relief due to the falling temps but so does your dog. Again, this is no cause for alarm; in fact, you’ll probably notice your dog begin to slowly increase the intake of water after a week or two of these cooler temps. It may not go back to summer drinking levels, but it will level off so that Fido is still getting the right amount of water for his body.
You’ll find that a lessening of water intake may accompany a lower level of activity. In fact, you may have become so accustomed to Fido taking in a great deal of water because both of you are more active during the warmer months. (Keep in mind that when a dog is more active, the normal “one ounce per pound” recommendation actually increases to two ounces—which could mean your dog is taking in twice the normal amount to compensate.) So, if you have seen a decrease in Fido’s activity as well as the decrease in water intake, but Fido IS still drinking water and is otherwise acting normal, you likely have little reason to worry.
2. A Change in Routine
Have you recently moved to a new place? Has there been a major change in your dog’s routine? You may notice your dog behaving differently in a number of ways, including a decrease in water intake. You may begin to worry because not only is Fido not drinking like he normally does, but he may also be eating less plus he could seem a little lethargic. All of these issues could point to Fido’s apprehension about the new place or new routine.
If you have moved and are providing your dog with tap water, keep in mind that different water treatment plants produce water that is safe to drink, but it may have chemicals or iron or copper that your dog’s sensitive nose can detect. If the water smells different from Fido, you can rest assured that he will be reluctant to drink it.
If you notice Fido refusing to drink tap water, you might try spring water or other safe bottled water as an alternative.
3. Health Problems
While there are a few harmless reasons that Fido may refuse to drink, most of the time, Fido is likely experiencing a health issue that curbs his thirst. However, even these most common health issues inspire a lack of water intake.
Dogs suffering from a urinary tract or bladder infection may refuse to drink much water if any at all. Typically, the refusal to drink water will be accompanied by a lack of appetite as well as lethargy.
It is important that you do not let this issue go untreated. If you notice prolonged refusal to drink, lasting longer than 24 hours, then call the vet. Once you notice Fido’s refusal to drink, start keeping a log of symptoms. Your vet will want this information upon bringing Fido to the clinic.
One important note—if you notice Fido’s refusal to drink over the weekend and he won’t eat his dog food nor does he go about his normal activity level, then it might be a good idea to call an emergency vet.
Diabetes typically encourages an increase in drinking water; however, there are some dogs developing diabetes that will decrease their water intake.
As a dog ages, she is going to take in less water. Sometimes this is because of the effort it takes to get up and go to the water bowl; other times, it is due to the diminishing of thirst and hunger receptors in the dog’s body.
If you are concerned about your aging dog’s water intake, you may need to make a few adjustments so that your fur baby can easily access water. Try to move food and water bowls near her dog bed where she rests. If you’re worried about your elderly dog making a mess in the living room, you can buy mats to go under the food and water bowls.
Another adjustment you can make that will benefit your elderly dog in more ways than one is to switch over to canned wet food. Wet dog food has extra water in the contents; providing this will help ensure that Fido gets more water in his diet. Plus, if Fido has dental issues, then swap to wet dog food will help make sure he gets enough to eat.
5. The Association of Drinking Water with Something Negative
Have you recently adopted your dog or rescued the dog from a bad situation? If you provide water in a bowl that looks a lot like the water bowl Fido drank from in a shelter, then he may associate the drinking of water with a bad memory.
If you didn’t adopt or rescue your dog, then it’s possible your dog is picky. She may not like the water bowl you use. It’s possible, if you’re using a gravity-fed water dispenser, that the sound the dispenser makes as it fills the bowl disturbs your dog. If you notice no other health issues in your dog and she’s acting otherwise normal, you may want to try looking into trying another type of bowl to see if this is what’s causing Fido’s disinterest in water.
6. Damage to the Teeth or an Injury
If you notice your dog refusing to drink or wincing in pain when trying to eat or drink, you may need to get Fido to the vet to check for possible dental issues or an injury in the mouth .
What Can I Do To Help My Dog Who Won’t Drink Water?
One of the easiest ways you can trick Fido into drinking water—as long as the dog is eating some—is to pour a little water over his dry dog food to make it moist. You can also try mixing wet dog food to the food to entice him to eat and get a little extra water in his system.
Some dogs will lick ice; of course, this will melt and provide a means of getting at least a little water in Fido’s system. You may want to add ice to a new bowl if you think Fido doesn’t like his current water bowl.
Some pet parents give their pup Pedialyte; however, get your vet’s approval before trying this step. Remember, some human products are safe for dogs while others may be safe for human consumption but toxic to dogs.
Another way you can tempt Fido to drink water is to provide low-sodium broth or the juice from canned food like tuna or chicken.
When Should I Contact my Vet?
Twenty-four hours is the longest your dog should go without water intake. If you notice a sharp decrease in water intake accompanied by lethargy and a refusal to eat, contact your vet. If you attempt to provide ice, broth, or juice from canned meat with no liquid intake on Fido’s part, be sure to take Fido to the vet.
Again, if you notice that your dog hasn’t taken in any liquid in a twenty-four-hour period, then you must contact a vet—even if it’s the weekend and your normal vet is not in the office. Most vets offer an emergency number, but, if not, contact a local emergency vet. Dogs can become very sick within 24 hours without liquid; time is of the essence when treating a rapidly dehydrating dog.
Although a decrease in water intake is NOT a bad thing, it is important to monitor our pups to ensure that they do get plenty of water for their age, weight, and activity level. It is important to know how long your dog goes without water; once a dog has gone over 24 hours without some type of liquid, you should contact the vet immediately. However, you’ll also want to try the at-home remedies during this 24 hour period. If you’ve done everything possible during this 24 hour period; you’ll want to contact a vet, even an emergency vet if your regular vet is not available.
1. How do I get my dog to drink water?
You can “trick” him by providing low-sodium soup broth, or you can try ice in your dog’s water bowl. You may also want to try the juice in canned tuna or in canned chicken.
2. Should I be concerned if my dog isn’t drinking water?
In a few circumstances, you may not have cause for concern. However, if you notice a marked decrease in the dog’s water intake along with lethargy and a lack of appetite, then you should monitor the dog for a twenty-four-hour period. If the dog has not started to once again take in water, then contact your vet.
3. How long is too long for a dog not to drink water?
Twenty-four hours is generally the accepted time period; if the dog won’t drink water or has taken in no liquid whatsoever during this time, contact a vet.
4. What happens if a dog doesn’t get water?
The dog will become dehydrated and weak. If a dog refuses to drink during a 24 hour period, contact a vet.