Hydration. It is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Some dogs like to drink water and will guzzle from any dish they find - or even a puddle or pool. Other dogs prefer only bottled water and might only take a sip or two. How do you make sure your dog is drinking enough water!
First, it’s pretty important to know how much water your dog needs to drink. A little variance from the ideal amount is probably not a big deal, but if your dog is chronically dehydrated it could cause health issues or point to a more serious problem. You also want to factor in activity levels and weather. A dog out for a walk in 90-degree heat with full humidity or a dog who has just come off the fastest agility run of her life might need a bit more, then say, a dog lounging in the house with the AC on full blast! Regardless of your dog’s age or activity level, they should always have fresh, clean water available to them.
Five tips for keeping your dog hydrated
- Wash the water bowl frequently A study conducted by NSF International identified pet bowls as one of the top five dirtiest places in the home. Be sure you are properly cleaning pet bowls to prevent germs from taking over and making your pet sick. A dirty bowl might be especially unappealing to your pup, even if germs are not visible they can cause odors that your pup’s highly sensitive nose can detect even before you smell an issue. You should be washing bowls with warm soapy water frequently. Remember to rinse well as the odor of the soap could cause the water in the dish to smell unappealing to your dog.
- Get a bigger bowl You will want a bowl that holds about a days worth of water. If you notice your pet is not drinking enough or you see the signs of dehydration, you might want to consider a bigger bowl. If space is an issue, you can also try adding a second bowl in another room in your home.
- Try a doggy fountain Dog water fountains provide your pooch with a continuous flow of fresh water, making it taste better and remain cooler than it would be if served in a bowl. Much like people, dogs also dislike drinking water that’s been sitting around for hours and prefer to have a source of refreshing, clean water all day long.
- Feed hydrating treats If you’re having trouble getting your pup to drink, try some hydrating food. Watermelon and cucumber are two particularly good choices. You could also try homemade “pupsicles” or even frozen bone broth if that is something your dog might enjoy. While you still want your pup to drink water these will help with hydration.
- Keep a travel water bottle with you It’s best to be prepared with a drink of water on the go. Consider packing a travel water bottle or dog dish so your pup always has access to a cool drink of water. Consider one with a bowl on top to keep water in the bottle when your pup isn’t drinking to prevent spills. The other perk of these bottles is that they can be used one-handed.
- Cold Weather Just like you, your dog may not drink as much on cooler days. It is just as important to stay hydrated in the winter as it is in hot weather. Encourage your pet to drink up!
- Less active
- Personal Preference Some dogs are just not big drinkers. If you know your pup drinks less water then you think they need, watch their hydration levels carefully and work with your vet to ensure your dog is getting adequate hydration.
Why won’t my dog drink?
There are many reasons why your dog may not want to drink. We’ve broken down some of the most common and when you should be concerned.
If your dog isn’t drinking it may be a sign they aren’t feeling well. Watch for other symptoms including lethargy, not eating, vomiting or diarrhea. If you see other symptoms or are concerned about your pup, better to err on the side of caution and have them checked out by a vet.
As your pup moves into the golden years of their life they may slow down. This might also mean a decrease in appetite and/or thirst. You can discuss your dog’s changing dietary needs, including how much water they need at your vet appointments. If you notice signs of dehydration (explained below) let your vet know and discuss ways to support your pet.
If your dog is less active you also might find them visiting the water bowl less. While it is true that your less active dog may not need as much water as a serious canine athlete, you still want to make sure they’re getting enough to stay hydrated.
If your pup is in a new place or somewhere that makes them nervous they might not get a drink. This could include at the vet, visiting someone new or even if you’re at home and something like construction outside is stressing them out. If your dog is showing consistent signs of nerves or chronic stress, you should discuss this with your vet or an animal behaviorist so you can find ways to reduce their stress. While it might sound funny to think of your dog working on their #selfcare, stress is just as bad for your dog as it is for you!
Signs of Dehydration in Dogs
It is important that you recognize the signs of dehydration in your dog. If you notice your dog not drinking or not drinking enough along with any of the following symptoms you’ll want to start hydrating your pup stat! If you’re struggling, reach out to your dog’s vet for help. They may have to use IV fluids. Symptoms of dehydration in dogs include:
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
- White gums
While mild dehydration might not be all that serious, a more severe case could be life-threatening. If your dog is dehydrated due to overheating they are also at risk for heatstroke. It is always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Since there are many possible reasons why your dog might not be drinking, you want to look for clues so you can understand the cause of the issue - this will help you make the best decision about how to encourage your pup to drink more and stay hydrated.
Does my dog's hydration needs change with the seasons?
In a word, maybe. Whether it is very hot and humid or cold and dry, it is important that your pup is hydrating!
Winter hydration tips
Lower humidity and dry air can make your pup feel dry and thirsty! While you should always have fresh, cool water available to your pup there are a few other things you can do to help keep your pup hydrated in the colder winter months.
- Try offering your dog some bone broth
Since your pup might not drink tea and hot chocolate is off limits, a warm dish of dog friendly bone broth might help keep your pup hydrated. Bone broth contains vitamins, minerals and even some protein. It's a great choice for pups who might be stressed by the cold weather as well.
- Consider a dietary change
Fresh food like Ollie has a higher water content than its dried counterparts. For a boost in hydration consider transitioning your pup to fresh food.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.