Maltese dog drinking water from bowl.

How To Trick Your Dog Into Drinking Water: Vet Fact Checked

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 10th January 2024

Dogs can be notoriously bad at keeping themselves hydrated. But unfortunately, we can't tell them to drink water like they are naughty children. Dogs are far too wilful for that!

So in this article, we’ll discuss how to trick your dog into drinking water. These are tried and true methods, but it will highly depend on your dog’s taste (literally, in some cases).

So if you want your pooch to stay happy and healthy, read on for these sneaky canine hydration tips!


How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?

But before we get to the scary “this may cause death” part, let’s start with the basics. How much water should your dog be drinking every day?

“In general, dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8 of a cup) per pound of body weight each day.” - PetMD (1)

An ounce of water is around 29 millimetres, to be extra precise.

But that’s the thing about blanket statements like these. It rarely applies to every dog. When it comes to something as changeable as hydration, it’s almost always untrue for your dog.

There are so many things that could impact your dog’s hydration needs including:

  • How active your dog is
  • Whether they eat dry or wet dog food
  • How warm your climate and/or home is
  • How old they are
  • Whether they are pregnant, nursing or weaning
  • Sometimes, individual differences

So although it’s terribly unhelpful that dogs have different hydration needs, one thing is for sure: if your dog doesn’t get adequate hydration for their lifestyle, some scary things can happen.


Why Is It Important For Your Dog To Stay Hydrated

Why does it even matter that your dog drinks water often? Well, dehydration is one of those conditions that sneaks up on you. It doesn’t seemingly cause many issues until it’s gone way too far. And by that point, your dog is at risk of death. Seriously!

Here are some things that can happen if your dog becomes dehydrated:

  • Heatstroke
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of kidney disease
  • Increased risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes
  • Increased risk of cancer

Related: How Long Can A Dog Go Without Drinking Water?

Sufficiently scared? Not to worry! Let’s talk about how to get a dog to drink more water to avoid these frightening outcomes.

Related: Your Dog Can Drink Coconut Water!


How To Trick Your Dog Into Drinking Water In 12 Sneaky Ways

Before we begin with these sneaky ways to get your dog to drink more, it’s more of an encouragement.

1. Buy a water fountain for your dog

A surefire way to get your dog to do pretty much anything is to make it more entertaining. Make drinking water into a game and your dog will love it. The easiest way to do this is to buy a dog water fountain.

The movement makes it a more fun way to drink water. Fountain water may also taste better for your dog.

The movement of the water encourages fresh oxygen, giving the water a better taste than stagnant water in a bowl. Most water fountains have a filtering system, which improves the taste of tap water as well as removes impurities.

2. Keep your dog’s water bowls full to the brim

Tell me if this has happened to you: If you drink from the same glass of water, you’ll drink until it’s empty. But if you never allow your cup to empty, you instinctively drink more.

This is the trick we use here to help your dog drink more water. Never let the water level in your dog’s bowl get so low that your dog is literally licking the bottom of the bowl.

Ensure your dog’s water bowls are always full, so they have water available at all times.

3. Use a dog water bottle when you’re on the go

Speaking of water being available at all times, dog water bottles are lifesavers when camping, hiking or out on walks. Even short walks are an excellent opportunity to allow your dog to drink fresh water.

Some dogs are more likely to drink water while they are active as opposed to continually drinking water at home. So a handy dog water bottle will help you provide that water source as soon as they are thirsty.

How do you encourage your dog to drink from the water bottle? Simple! Offer your pooch some water periodically during your walk, depending on the length of the walk. If it’s just a short walk, at least offer your dog a drink of water at the end of your walk.

4. Create multiple water stations around the house

You’ll notice a pattern here. A great philosophy to keep in mind to get your dog to drink more water is to create more opportunities for your dog to drink more. This is a simple way to increase the opportunity to create more water stations around your home.

You could also vary the water stations with different types of bowls and fountains to make things more interesting. If you have a garden, I recommend having at least two water stations inside and one outside. Depending on your house size, you’ll need to adapt this number. For example, if you have a two-story home, and your dog is allowed to roam on both floors, have a water bowl on each floor and outside.

5. Try filtered rainwater

This is more of an anecdotal tip, but that’s what you get with Gentle Dog Trainers! A little bit of science. A little bit of personal experience.

In my house, we have several rain collection points just in case the water runs out – ah, the joys of rural life. Surprisingly, my dog loves the rainwater dog bowls more than the inside bowl we fill with tap water.

Why? There could be a few reasons. Dogs have a heightened sense of smell, so they can detect more chemicals in tap water than in rainwater. The chemicals of tap water may also affect the taste, so rainwater may be tastier.

That said, stagnant water can be dangerous for dogs, with a whole host of nasty diseases associated with it. While your dog can drink unfiltered water and usually be fine, it depends on how you collect your rainwater. Some galvanised rain buckets have high levels of zinc that can poison your dog.

So consult your vet before taking this advice.

6. Add water to your dog’s food

Hydrating your dog’s dry food does two things. First, it increases your dog’s water intake, which is obvious. Second, it makes your dog’s food more enticing. The water creates a flavoured gravy with the dry food. Dogs absolutely love it!

So why don’t we always add water to dry dog food? Some people do, but one of the benefits of dry dog food is dental maintenance. Dry food helps remove plaque buildup from your dog’s teeth and keeps their chompers healthy.

“Dry food encourages dogs to chew their food, which aids in preventing tartar buildup and secondary periodontal disease.” -  Heather Hoffman, DVM, PetMD (2)

So we wouldn’t recommend always using this hack. Just use it as an occasional treat to boost your dog’s water intake.

7. Introduce wet dog food to your dog’s diet

An easier way to boost hydration through food is to switch your dog to wet dog food. Wet dog food naturally has a higher water content than dry dog food, so it’s great for dogs who don’t like drinking water casually. Wet dog food can be high in nutrients too.

However, the dry food vs wet food debate goes on. Only you and your vet know what’s best for your pup. But if your dog is on an entirely dry food diet and you’re struggling to get them to drink water, it could be a good idea to mix in some wet food every now and again to boost their hydration.

8. Introduce fresh fruits or meat to your dog’s diet

Did you know that fruit is mostly water? Because of that, if your dog likes fruit, it’s an opportunity to increase their hydration in a creative way.

Waterlicious dog-friendly fruits include:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Pears

Fresh meat will also increase your dog’s water intake by way of the meat being “hydrated”. There are some meats and proteins that are better than others. By “better” I mean more nutritious. A couple of our favourites are lean beef, kangaroo meat and well-sourced salmon.

9. Flavour your dog’s water

We’re not the only mammals that enjoy a little kick to our water. But instead of flavouring your dog’s water with fruit, try something a little meatier and flavourful. Dogs love a low-sodium broth. You could make some bone broth yourself (we’ve made a video all about that). Or you can purchase some low-sodium chicken broth to add a little flavour to your dog’s water.

Why is it so important that the broth you choose is low in sodium? The typical broth or stock that we have is very high in salt. If your dog consumes too much salt, it can cause circulation issues such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.  So make the switch to low-sodium broths or make them yourself with no salt to improve your dog’s health (and yours!).

10. Let your dog drink from your hand

If you offer a drink of water from your hand, many dogs will find this more appealing than drinking from a water bottle or bowl. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have those things. You don’t want to make a habit of always using your hands as a water vessel. Highly impractical and a bit gross, after all.

But in times when you really want your dog to drink something, like after intense exercise, this is an effective hack.

11. Drink some water first, then offer water to your dog

Again, back to anecdotal evidence, but I’ve noticed that my dog likes to mirror me. Have you seen those cute Instagram videos where a dog owner will put their dog’s food bowl in the microwave and take it out instantly (without heating the food), and their dog eats the food with gusto as if they are eating human food?

It’s a psychological thing that our dogs want what we’re having. So I have tried this with water. I’ll visibly drink water from my hand and then pour some water for my dog.  Usually, he wants what I’m having, so he drinks from my hand after I do.

12. Clean your dog’s water bowls

No one likes to drink from a grotty cup! By cleaning your dog’s bowls regularly, you help rid them of built-up saliva, food morsels and any other bits that have accumulated in the water bowl. Your dog will be far more likely to drink water if they have a clean source to drink from.


My Final Thoughts

I want to end this article by saying dogs are deceptively simple. Simpler than we might think. Most dogs will regulate their own hydration needs by drinking when they need to and begging by the water bowl if they don’t have a water source. They will find a way to tell you unless they have a health condition that prevents them from doing so. So you don’t need to panic too much.

However, if your dog is getting into the habit of not drinking much throughout the day and then drinking a lot in one go, these little tips on how to trick your dog into drinking water will help your dog stay more consistently hydrated.

FAQ

How can you tell if your dog is dehydrated?

Think your dog might be dehydrated? Here are some ways you can tell. (3)
●Loss of elasticity in the skin
●Thick saliva
●Dry nose
●Excessive panting
●Lethargy and fatigue
●Confusion and dizziness
●Vomiting
●Loss of appetite
You can test the elasticity of your dog’s skin by pinching the skin around the back of the neck/in between the shoulder blades. The skin should snap back to the original position quickly. If it takes a while for the skin to resettle, your dog needs a drink!

References

  1. August 11, 2020. “How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?”. PetMD. Retrieved February 6, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_the_importance_of_water
  2. Hoffman, Heather. January 8, 2021. “Dry Dog Food vs. Wet Dog Food: Which Is Better?”. PetMD. Retrieved February 6, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/dry-dog-food-vs-wet-dog-food-which-better
  3. Reisen, J. June 29, 2021. “Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved February 6, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/warning-signs-dehydration-dogs/

Olivia De Santos


Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}