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Why Is My Dog Not Drinking Water?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.
  • Reasons why a dog might not be drinking water include health issues, stress, unfamiliar places, aging, weather changes, dental problems, stress and anxiety, negative association with water, being on a wet diet, and lack of exercise.
  • Ways to encourage a dog to drink water include treating any oral injuries, keeping the bowl and water clean, making the water accessible, changing the bowl type, trying pet fountains, feeding wet and dry dog food, adding flavor to the water, and adding ice.
  • To prevent dehydration in dogs, always provide clean and fresh water, prevent diarrhea, limit exercise in hot weather, bring water on walks, avoid giving fatty table scraps, and take the dog for regular vet checkups.
  • Dogs need plenty of water to stay healthy and hydrated.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Tuesday 13 September 2022
Last updated on
Monday 31 July 2023
Why Is My Dog Not Drinking Water?
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One of the most common concerns among pet parents is their dog not drinking water. Your dog needs plenty of water to stay healthy and hydrated. And, much like people, dogs will suffer the effects of dehydration if they don’t get enough of it. Your dog should be getting one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. Any less than this can indicate that something is wrong.

When your dog won’t drink water, your first port of call should always be to speak to your vet. A lack of thirst can indicate something is amiss with your pup’s health. However, some causes for a lack of thirst will be simple, such as stress or being in a new place. Ready to find out more about a dog not drinking water? Read on with us today!

Why Isn’t My Dog Drinking Water?

There are several reasons why your dog might not be drinking water, ranging from simple things like the stress of a new home to more serious health issues. It’s important to talk to your vet if you have any concerns.

Health Issues

An extensive list of illnesses can mess with your pup’s water intake. For example, bladder infections and urinary tract infections are two of the leading medical causes for your dog to avoid drinking water. As well as these, other illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease can cause their water intake to fluctuate. If you start noticing other symptoms of ill health such as a lack of appetite, lethargy, and depression, be sure to talk to your vet right away. While your dog can technically survive without water for two to three days, it will begin to suffer from the effects of dehydration after the first 24 hours.

Unfamiliar Places

What you find stressful and what your dog finds stressful are two different things. While you may enjoy being in a new, unfamiliar place, your dog may not. In fact, being in an unfamiliar place can cause your dog anxiety and stress – this can lead to them drinking less water. So, when planning a trip to a new place, it may be beneficial to bring a water bowl and bottle from home. This can be helpful for your dog because their sensitive noses will pick up on the fact that the water smells familiar to them, prompting them to drink in safety.


As your furry friend grows older, they may start to eat and drink less than they did before. This may be due to cognitive decline, mobility issues, or vision loss, among other causes. As well as this, older dogs tend to get less exercise than their younger counterparts, and this lack of exertion can cause them to be less thirsty. Even so, your older dog must drink water. Some older dogs benefit from wet food to allow for some extra water intake.

Weather Changes

Another reason why your dog might drink less water is changed in the weather. When fall and winter come around, many dogs will drink less – likely they just aren’t as thirsty due to the cooler temperatures associated with these seasons. This also applies if your dog hasn’t gotten as much exercise with you as they did in the spring and summer months. Without this higher level of physical exertion, your pooch may be less interested in drinking a lot of water as soon as they get to their water bowl. This is normal for them as long as they do not stop drinking completely and are otherwise healthy.

Dental Problems

When it comes to eating and drinking, many dogs will avoid these simple tasks if they suffer from dental problems. An injury in their mouths, such as a splinter or rock, can cause them to avoid drinking. As well as this, damage to the teeth can make them far more sensitive – cold water touching them can make drinking painful. Be sure to get your pooch booked in for a dental checkup whenever they show signs of dental problems to avoid progressive illnesses like periodontitis.

Stress and Anxiety

In dogs, stress and anxiety are leading causes for them to avoid drinking water. Don’t forget, what you find stressful and what your dog finds stressful can be two very different things. A change in the family, moving home, and even just being in an unfamiliar place can cause them to be hesitant to eat and drink.

Negative Association

Your dog learns through association. Whenever your dog experiences something scary or painful, they’ll learn to associate those negative emotions with the circumstances at the time. So, if your dog has a bad experience when drinking from their bowl, they might learn to avoid drinking from it in the future. Such experiences might include being bothered when drinking by other pets or children, having their tail stepped on, or even something toxic or poor-tasting being put into their water. Using a new bowl or moving it to a new spot can help to counter this issue.

Wet Diet

If your pooch is on a wet diet, they’ll be getting some of their daily water intakes from it. So, it’s sometimes normal for a dog to drink less when they are on wet food. However, your dog should not depend on their wet diet for water alone.


If your dog gets a lot of exercise, they’ll likely drink more water to compensate. When your dog is more sedentary, drinking may become an afterthought. Be sure that your dog gets enough exercise for their breed. For example, the minimum for the Belgian Malinois is 60 minutes of exercise per day. These high-energy dogs need to be worked for two hours daily on average to wear them down.

How to Get Your Dog to Drink Water

You can encourage your pup to drink enough water in several ways. Some are simple, others will involve speaking to your vet first.

Treat the Injury

The first line of treatment for a dog not drinking water is to address any oral injuries and dental issues. Always get your pup to the vet if you suspect something is amiss with their oral health. In doing this, you prevent progressive diseases like periodontitis.

Keep the Bowl and Water Clean

Your dog may avoid drinking from their bowl if it smells bad or if the water tastes bad. Be sure to clean your pup’s bowl regularly to encourage them to drink. It may sound obvious, but make sure to fully rinse the bowl of any cleaning products to remove the smell – the smell of cleaning products can also put your pooch off drinking!

Make the Water Accessible

Some dogs, especially senior dogs, may struggle to access their bowl. This is especially true for dogs with mobility issues, vision loss, and cognitive decline. Keep your pup’s bowl in the same place and regularly replenish the supply with clean, cool water.

Change the Bowl Type

While it may seem like an afterthought, the type of water bowl your pup has can play a big part in their willingness to drink from it. Your dog benefits the most from a stainless steel, ceramic, or melamine bowl. These choices are regarded as the safest as they are easy to clean, often dishwasher safe, and eco-friendly. The bowl must be easy to clean to avoid bacteria build-up and bad smells that could put your pooch off their water.

Try Pet Fountains

For dogs and cats alike, running water is the most natural and attractive type of water there is. Our furry friends naturally want to drink from a running water source, so a water fountain may be a good option for pups who stray away from their water bowls. Pet water fountains are safe for your dog as long as you maintain their maintenance. Be sure to check the water levels regularly to ensure that your dog has access to water. And, if the fountain completely empties, there’s a risk of it burning it. They also require cleaning to remove the biofilm from your pet’s saliva.

Feed Both Wet and Dry Dog Food

Senior dogs often take in less water than their younger counterparts. Some pet parents will offer wet food for their older pups to ensure they get enough water. For younger dogs, wet food toppings make a tasty and hydrating addition to their regular meals. Just be sure to monitor your dog’s caloric intake! And, as always, hold off on treats or wet toppings if your pup refuses to eat the rest of their food. Your dog needs a healthy and balanced diet to stay in top condition.

Add Flavor to the Water

One popular way to encourage dogs to drink water is by adding flavor. The most popular choices amongst pet parents include low-sodium chicken broth and powdered goat milk. This may be an option for senior pups and dogs recovering from illness and having issues with their thirst. Always use low-sodium options for your dog, as high sodium content can contribute to hypernatremia and dehydration.

Add Some Ice

Adding some ice to their water can do wonders when playing outside with your dog, especially in the hotter months. Just be sure your dog is not at risk of choking on the ice. And, for dogs with dental issues, it may be more beneficial to hold off on ice – not only can extremely cold temperatures be painful on their teeth, but hard objects like ice can worsen the damage.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Dogs

Your dog should be getting one ounce of water per pound of body weight. This means that your 20lbs dog should drink at least 20 ounces of water each day. But, in order to prevent dehydration, it’s crucial to know the signs. These include having little energy, lack of appetite, sunken eyes, and a dry mouth.

The first and most important way to prevent dehydration in your pup is to keep plenty of clean, fresh water available at all times. Never restrict your dog’s access to water. When the water level in their bowl falls, always top it up as soon as you can. When you and your pup are playing outside, always bring cool water for them to drink.

Another essential thing to do is to prevent diarrhea in your dog. Many health problems will cause dog diarrhea, including bacterial infections, intestinal parasites, and giving them fatty table scraps. Have your furry friend regularly vaccinated, keep them away from old food, and talk to your vet about preventative medicines to ward off parasites.

Other methods of preventing dehydration include:

  • Offer wet food or wet food toppings
  • Limit outdoor exercise when it’s too hot
  • Always bring water with you on walks
  • Prevent them from eating fatty table scraps
  • Take your dog for regular vet checkups!

Why Is My Dog Not Drinking Water: FAQs

Have any more questions or concerns about your dog not drinking water? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s health, always talk to your vet first.

When should I worry about my dog not drinking water?

While your dog can go up to three days without water, not drinking at all for more than one day is cause for immediate concern. Always get straight to your vet with your concerns. Much like people, drinking no water for more than 24 hours leads to uncomfortable and distressing signs of dehydration. As dehydration progresses, your dog will feel uncoordinated, dizzy, and generally unwell.

Should I force my dog to drink water?

Never force your dog to drink water. Doing so can lead to anxiety, stress, and a negative association with you or drinking water. If your dog is not drinking water, always go to your vet first. They will be able to address the underlying cause. If your dog is already unwell, forcing them to do extremely stressful things against their will only worsen their condition and damage their trust in you.

How long is too long for a dog not to drink water?

A dog can go without water for up to three days. However, this does not mean that you should ever withhold water for this amount of time, nor should you “wait and see” if your dog will drink if they don’t drink for an entire day. Always go to your vet for a checkup if this is the case.

Can I syringe water for my dog?

If your dog cannot drink on their own due to illness, you may syringe water for them under your vet’s supervision or instruction. However, you mustn’t force your dog to drink. Do not be tempted to force the syringe into your dog’s mouth as you risk choking or injuring them. Always talk to your vet for advice when your dog won’t drink from a syringe. Your dog may require rehydration through other means.

What should I do if my dog won’t stop drinking water?

If your dog drinks too much (polydipsia), it could be a health issue causing them to lose a lot of water in their body. A number of diseases will cause excessive water intake. These include kidney failure, diabetes, and Cushing’s disease. So, if your dog suddenly starts to drink a lot more than usual, it’s always best to see your vet for a checkup.

How long can a dog go without drinking water?

Healthy adult dogs can go up to three days without drinking water. This does not mean that you should ever withhold a dog’s water for this amount of time. After the first 24 hours, your dog will start to suffer the effects of dehydration. These will progress as time passes, potentially leading to death.

Look for the obvious things when your dog won’t drink water. These might include signs of ill health or a change in their environment. You should not force your dog to drink water and only syringe water to them under your vet’s instruction.

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