What Does it Mean When Dogs Don't Drink Water?


Although the amount of water your dog drinks might vary slightly between seasons or how often you take him for long walks, a sudden or drastic change isn't normal. If he's not drinking at all or only a small amount, look for signs of illness or problems with the water supply and schedule a visit to your vet.

What's Normal

  • In general, your dog should drink 1/2 to 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 25-pound dog needs between 13 and 25 ounces of water per day. Some of that water can come from his food, such as wet dog food. Extremely active dogs might need more water, as do most dogs on hot days.

Signs of Illness

  • A sudden decrease in your dog's water consumption or a refusal to drink could mean he's sick. With some illnesses, such as pancreatitis and parvovirus, dogs often drink less or not at all. Dogs with these illnesses usually exhibit other symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite and fever. If you notice any of these symptoms combined with a reduction in water intake, call your vet immediately. If your pet is dehydrated, the vet can administer fluids through an injection or intravenously and examine him for signs of illness.

Other Reasons

  • Dogs respond to stress in different ways, including reducing how much they eat and drink. Your dog might be stressed by many factors such as a trip to the groomer, a change in his schedule, someone new moving into your home or the addition of a new pet. If something has changed in your pet's life, talk with your vet about ways to control his stress level -- sometimes it's as simple as taking longer walks so he gets more exercise. It's also possible he doesn't like his water for some reason. The water might not be fresh, the bowl could be dirty or it could be hard to reach.

What to Do

  • If your vet has ruled out illness, try some basic changes to encourage your dog to drink. Wash your dog's bowl every day and change the water daily, recommends the Food Safety website. Use a water fountain that circulates the water to make the water more palatable. Flavoring the water with a small amount of meat or bone broth might encourage him to drink more. Tall or elderly dogs might prefer a raised bowl to make it easier to reach the water. Talk to your vet about what options might work best for your pet.

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