Dog Not Drinking Water: Reasons and What to Do If Your Dog is Not Drinking Water

what are the reasons for dog not drinking water

Like humans, dogs need to drink an adequate amount of water every day to avoid dehydration. With that, they will be able to keep their physiological functions running at their optimum. Factors such as illness can make your dog not drink as much water as usual, or decline to drink at all. Some dogs may also eat well while others lose their appetite. Here we discuss common reasons for a dog not drinking water and remedial measures you can take to encourage your canine to drink water.

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Not Drinking Enough Water

Different dogs will have different water needs depending on factors such as diet, size, level of activity, weather, and age. On a hot day, for example, a dog is likely to drink more water compared to a cold day. Pregnant and lactating female pooches also tend to drink more water per day.

With these factors in mind, you can use a general guideline of between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. A healthy 10 pound Italian Greyhound should thus be drinking between 5 and 10 ounces of water daily.

This includes the moisture your dog gets from her meals. For example, if you rehydrate your dog’s food with a ½ cup of water and the dog clear the whole bowl, chances are that she will drink less water than if you had fed her dry food.

Reasons for Dog Not Drinking Water

Is your dog not drinking water as usual or as she should? It may be simply a case of cooler weather, which means less panting and decreased thirst. Dogs keep themselves cool by panting. As they pant, water evaporates from their tongue and takes excess heat away with it.

Changes in weather aside, your dog may stop drinking water as usual due to the following reasons:


Older dogs tend to drink less water compared to puppies and younger dogs. Some find getting to the water bowl too taxing while others get a diminished sense of thirst as well as an appetite for food. Older dogs also tend to exercise a lot less compared to their younger counterparts. This means that they lose relatively lower amounts of water, and thus feel relatively less thirsty.

Whatever the reason for an old dog not drinking much water, there is still the inherent risk of overheating.  Not drinking enough water also puts them at risk of constipation. Older dogs thus still need to adequately hydrate their bodies. You can help them by switching to wet food but consult with your vet first though.

Reduced Level of Exercise

When dogs exercise, they get hot. To adjust their body temperature, they pant more. This means more water loss and thus increased thirst. The opposite is also true. If a dog doesn’t exercise as much, it follows it will lose less water and feel less thirsty. If your dog is not drinking water as usual after a period of reduced exercise, there is no cause for concern. Unless of course, the trend persists for more than a day.


Illness is another possible underlying cause for a dog not drinking water as usual. Health conditions such as diabetes and bladder infection (urinary tract infection) often cause a decline in thirst for the affected dog. Sometimes such disease can be accompanied by foul smelling breath. If the canine shows any signs or symptoms of the ailment, such as lethargy, or appears to be in pain, you are better off taking it to a veterinarian for a check-up.

Mouth Injury

Injury to the soft tissues around the mouth may also explain the trend of your dog not drinking water as usual. This is especially likely if your dog is also not eating well. Mouth injury can, for example, happen when solid objects such as a stick or a bone splinter get lodged between the teeth or puncture the soft oral tissues. Dogs can also damage their teeth when they accidentally chew on hard objects such as rocks. The affected dog may then find eating and drinking painful.

If you suspect that an injury could be the underlying cause for your dog’s decreased thirst and desire to drinking water, take it to your veterinarian. He or she will examine your dog and remove any foreign object identified.

Unfamiliar Water Smell and Surroundings

Did you just relocate to a new house or neighborhood? Or maybe you are on vacation to a different side of the country. Well, chances are that your dog finds the water taste or smell different to what it is used to. This can, for example, be the case if the relocation means switching from tap water to well water or the other way round.

If that is the case, try mixing the two and see if your dog responds positively. Once your pooch gets used to the new taste, you can then make the full switch. You can also try giving your pooch bottled water to see her reaction.

Other dogs find moving to a new neighborhood stressing and get engrossed in themselves trying to adjust to a point where they get less desire to drink water.

Traumatic Experience

It is also not uncommon for a dog that is recovering from a surgery or medical procedure to be reluctant to take water. Think of dental surgery, spaying, castration or neutering, etc. as some of the examples.

What to Do If a Dog Is Not Drinking Water

Most dogs will be okay even after episodes of declined thirst. You should only be concerned if your dog’s lack of desire to drink water prolongs for more than one day. Dogs should not go for more than a day without drinking water. They might end up getting constipated or overheated. You should also be concerned if the decreased desire for drinking is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea. If that is the case, seek immediate attention of your veterinarian.

Otherwise, there are various ways in which you can make your dog drink more water including:

Watch Your Dog’s Water Bowl

Your water bowl could encourage or discourage your dog to drink water. These tips may prove beneficial in your effort to make your dog drink more water:

  1. Start by changing the position of the water bowl to see if that helps. This is especially handy for old dogs that may find going to the water bow draining.
  2. Try using a different bowl. Some dogs may find it difficult to drink from a bowl after a negative experience with it.
  3. Ensure that your canine has access to adequate, clean water at all times. Consider using a large bowl that holds more water than your pooch can sip-off in a day.
  4. Have multiple water bowls in different areas such as next to your dog’s bed, next to the food bowl, etc. For dogs that spend their time inside as well as outside, have one or more water bowls in each location.
  5. Ensure that the shape of the water bowl doesn’t make it challenging for your dog to drink. A wide flat bowl is recommended, especially for small breeds.
  6. Use a bowl that has a weight affixed to the bottom part to stop spillage if your dog likes to play with water.
  7. Most importantly, ensure that the water bowls are clean and odor-free at all times.

Increase Dietary Intake of Water

Is your dog not drinking water but is eating as usual? You can help your dog get water indirectly by mixing it with dry food. Adding canned food to your dog’s diet also helps to introduce more moisture. recommends switching from dry food to canned food before finally settling for a raw, balanced diet to increase your dog’s water intake.

Use Positive Reinforcement

If your canine doesn’t drink as much water, as usual, train her out of the behavior by giving her a treat every time she drinks from the water bowl.

Flavor the Water

You can also get your dog interested in drinking water by adding irresistible flavoring to the water. You could, for example, add chicken or beef broth that has no garlic or onion.

Address any Foreign Objects or Sores in the Mouth

As already mentioned, oral issues could explain why your dog is not drinking water as usual. Check your dog for injuries or foreign objects and take it to your veterinarian for removal.


1 Comment

  1. In the event that either of my dogs is refusing water for longer than is healthy, I take a syringe (available OTC at any pharmacy for real cheap) of cold, refreshing water and coax it into his mouth until he finally realizes it’s good/refreshing and gradually begins to accept it– and often even enjoying the ‘pampering’ he is receiving. You have to be real careful, though, to release the water from the syringe very slowly as not to have them choke. Another trick I use is to add a wee bit of coconut water to their dishes of cool water. They seem to really enjoy that little touch of sweet flavor for a “change” of pace.

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