guide on why won’t my dog drink water

Why Won’t My Dog Drink Water?

It can be argued that drinking water is more important to survival than food. It’s due to this logic that a dog that won’t drink water can be alarming for the dog owner. Like us, dogs know when to drink water to keep themselves hydrated, so there must be a reason why he is refusing to drink water. Today, we’re going to explore the possible reasons why, how to help the situation, and how to prevent your dog from dehydration.

Top Reasons Why My Dog Won’t Drink Water

Why Wont My Dog Drink Water
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

There could be a myriad of reasons why your dog won’t drink water, but here are a few of the most common ones.

No Access to Water

The most obvious reason your dog won’t drink water could simply be because he doesn’t have access to his water bowl. You may forget to fill it up when he’s out of water. It’s important to be on top of the water replenishing, especially if your dog is on a dry kibble diet. The dry dog food will make your dog much thirstier than if he was on a wet food diet.

Not only is filling his water bowl important to get your dog to drink water, but you also need to make sure the water is clean. You wouldn’t want to drink dusty water, and neither does your dog. Wash out his water bowl from time to time and fill it with clean water.

Another possible reason his access to water is limited could be due to another household pet. Even domestic pets have a hierarchy, so it’s possible the alpha dog is restricting the other dog from drinking water. To check if this is the reason, observe how your dogs are interacting at a distance. If this is the issue, more water bowls around the house could be the solution.

Illness or Disease

dog not drinking because of sickness

Of course, a change in behavior such as a loss of appetite or refusal to drink water can indicate a more serious underlying issue such as an illness or disease. It could also be a wound that you don’t see and your dog is in too much pain to drink water. If this is the case, then you will most likely also witness a lack of appetite.

If your dog has an injury in his mouth such as lacerations from chewing on something sharp or a broken tooth, drinking water could be painful.

Diseases and illnesses such as kidney disease, diabetes, a UTI (urinary tract infection), and more related to these organs could also be the culprit. We will say that these reasons are less common, and if this is the case, your dog refusing to drink water will be a long-time issue. Therefore, it gives you plenty of time to diagnose the problem by visiting your vet.

Change of Food

If you had your dog on a kibble diet and switched to wet food or fresh dog food, your dog may drink less water because of the higher moisture content. It may seem like he’s drinking less but that doesn’t necessarily indicate his water intake is lower. As long as he is still drinking water, his urine isn’t a very dark color and his stool is still at an ideal consistency, then your dog should be ok.

Change in Surroundings

dogs not drinking because of surroundings change
Image by huoadg5888 from Pixabay

Any sort of change can impact your dog’s regular routine and sometimes it can manifest in how much water he drinks. For example, if you just moved and your pooch is still getting used to his new surroundings, it’s likely your dog won’t drink water in an unfamiliar environment. Even a change as slight as moving his water bowl to another area of the house can cause this.

If a change has happened, you can try moving his water bowl back. It’s difficult to create a familiar environment if you just moved houses, so giving him time and surrounding him with his personal items such as his dog bed, favorite blanket and toy can help shorten the process.

Sometimes even being in a friend’s house or in puppy class can be unsettling enough for your dog to not drink much water. You can bring water from home and put it in his favorite water bowl to encourage him.

Change of Water Source

Some dogs are picky enough to notice the change in the water source. We don’t know about you, but water can taste different in different countries and even from different brands depending on how it’s treated. If some humans can tell the difference, then it’s no surprise a dog with heightened senses can as well.

You can wait for him to adjust, or you can add small amounts from the original water source into the water bowls.

Trauma, Fear, or Anxiety

Change can be a mild form of trauma for some dogs. Sometimes it will take more severe changes and occurrences to happen to impact how much water your dog drinks. A major trauma could be an injury, being given up for adoption, spaying or neutering, or if he associates his water bowl or the drinking area with a negative experience.

It could take the help of canine behavioral specialists and trainers to fix this particular issue, because if your dog won’t drink water, a lot of health issues may follow. So it is in everyone’s best interest to correct this issue as soon as possible.

A Lack of Exercise

Lastly, another common reason why your dog won’t drink water is that he isn’t moving enough. With less exercise and motion, your dog won’t require as much water as pets that are always active. Luckily, this reason isn’t a cause for concern and is temporary for the most part. Just monitor your dog and pay attention to how much water he drinks when he gets more exercise.

How to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water

dog doesn't like the water source
Image by 947051 from Pixabay

If a lack of exercise is the issue, just keep an eye on your pooch and take him out for more walks and see if the problem persists. More likely than not, he should start drinking water in normal amounts soon. For behavioral reasons that stem from change or trauma, it could just take time and a lot of patience. If your dog doesn’t like the new water source when he’s used to tap water, you can try mixing tap water into his water bowl at first.

The change in food could also be a temporary issue that will correct itself when your dog’s palate adjusts. Keep in mind that going from kibble to wet food will see a decrease in water consumption, but this is completely normal.

If trauma and changes in surroundings are the issues, then do your best to create a safe environment for your dog to adjust or enlist professional assistance.

Diseases and illnesses can also cause a dog drinking water less frequently. It could be the result of the medication prescribed or your dog is just in discomfort or pain. Again, once your dog recovers this issue should subside.

Lastly, always make sure your dog has access to water. Your pet may not be refusing to drink, it may actually be because he can’t get to it. Monitor how much water your dog is drinking in a day.

How Much Water Should Your Dog Drink?

How Much Water Should Your Dog Drink?
Image by Sinawa from Pixabay

There really isn’t such a thing as drinking too much water, as it only causes dogs to urinate more and possibly gain a bit of water weight. This also isn’t something you need to worry about as dogs can self-regulate. However, we will say that some medications and illnesses can cause the dog to feel parched all the time. If you notice your dog is drinking an excessive amount of water, then it’s time to call the vet.

That being said, too much or too little of something can be negative. Only get your dog to drink water if he’s lacking. How much water your dog needs depends on his weight. The rule of thumb is to get your dog to drink their weight in kilograms multiplied by 50 to get the amount in milliliters. For example, a dog weighing 30KG should drink 30×50 = 1500 mm of water a day.

How to Get a Dog to Drink Water Temporarily

dog drinking temporarily on a persons hand
Image by birgl from Pixabay

Let’s say you have to get your dog to drink water for the time being before you can get a chance to visit the vet. Are there ways you can entice him to drink a few drops so he doesn’t dehydrate and develop a urinary tract infection?

Mixing Water in with His Food

Making the water taste better by mixing it into his food is one way. He may refuse to drink tasteless water, but your dog may lap up the liquid if it’s in his food. Trying different water sources can also can avoid your dog not drinking. Adding texture such as ice cubes or changing the temperature can also appeal to your pet.

Exchanging the dry kibble for wet food altogether could also help regulate your pup’s water intake. Because wet food has a higher moisture content, your pup can stay hydrated this way.

Change the Bowl or Location

dog drinking upon changing location of water bowl
Image by 584652 from Pixabay

Try changing the location of the bowl or add more water bowls around the house. Dogs could refuse to drink water also because he doesn’t like the receptacle. What holds the water can also change the taste. Some dogs are picky and get bored of the same food, the same is possible with water and the water bowls you use. Try using ones of different materials and shapes to change things up.

Ask Your Vet or Trainer

There comes a time when you have tried everything and nothing works, you are completely stumped. If this is the case, we suggest dog owners contact their vet or ask a professional trainer for advice. If your dog happens to be suffering from an illness, you can also catch it early on.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a dog to not drink water?

A dog can not drink water because of a change or traumatic event. A lack of exercise or even limited access to water can reduce his drinking amount. Of course, not drinking water can also be caused by an underlying illness or disease.

How long is it safe for a dog to go without water?

Depending on his activity level, your dog can go anywhere between 6-12 hours without water, but it isn’t recommended to push it past this length. Ideally, you want your dog to drink water every day, especially if he is a high-energy breed.

How much water does a dog need?

In general, your dog will need his weight in kilograms multiplied by 50. Drinking enough water to meet your pet’s hydration needs requires some basic math. For example, a 20KG dog will need 20×50 = 1000 ml of water

If my dog won’t drink water, can my dog drink milk?

There are other forms of liquid that can help with hydration, such as milk. We don’t suggest this unless there is absolutely no other way or if it’s an emergency. Adult dogs are largely lactose intolerant, but a small amount in the water dish for a temporary fix is okay.


Knowing how to combat a dog who won’t drink water requires looking into the cause first. Water is essential to a dog’s survival, so if you noticed that your dog has gone long hours without water, then it’s time to take action. We presented some methods that combat common issues, but if you feel your dog is suffering from something more serious, then don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

Did You Know?

Manufacturers create fun products such as alcohol-free beer for dogs specifically, and even teas. A cappuccino from Starbucks, although only recommended in very small amounts can help.

Expert Tip

Other ways to flavor water to appeal to your dog include adding chicken or beef broth to the water bowl.

Similar Posts