What do I do if my dog won't drink water?

A dog that stops drinking water or drinks a lot less could have a serious health problem, and it is a big warning sign that you should take the dog to the vet. You should look at a couple of other potential issues, though, to be sure.


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1) Is the dog drinking out of the toilet? Sometimes dogs decide this tastes better and get their water that way. It's gross, but not dangerous and not a sign of illness. It can make you think the dog isn't drinking when really it's just getting the water someplace else. The floor of a bathtub or shower or the sink are other places this can happen.

2) Is the water clean and changed regularly? Water that has been sitting out tastes awful. Standing water will lose oxygen over time and become stale tasting. Many dogs don't like this, and if they're finicky, they may stop drinking it as much. There are dog water fountains that will keep the water moving and preserve the oxygen in it.

3) Try bottled water. Sometimes water tastes bad to a dog because of the chemicals in it. Your dog may drink some kinds of water readily but turn up its nose at others.

4) Try something more substantive that is a "treat" like chicken broth from soup. You can make sure your dog is getting liquid that way until you can get it to a vet, but it's not a good permanent solution.

5) Canned, wet dog food instead of kibble is another short-term aid to keep the dog hydrated. There is moisture in the food and it will give the dog at least some source of water.

What if my dog has stopped drinking entirely?

This is a serious issue, because dehydration can be fatal. If none of the above work, it is a must that you take the dog to the vet. Generally, a refusal to drink means the dog is having some kind of illness - if it feels horrible it may not want to drink, and some diseases such as canine urinary tract infections can stop them from drinking as well because of pain in urinating. Don't put off the vet trip - dogs cannot go that long without water. Several days to a week is all they'd have without water depending on the conditions, so you need to act relatively fast to stop dehydration.

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