8 Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Drinking Enough Water

Written by: Milica Brzakovic
Some dogs drink more water than they should, some less. Is your dog in the second category? Obviously, you're wondering what's going on and if it's an indicator of something dangerous going on. This article will give you an answer.

Just like humans,dogs need to drink a certain amount of water on a daily basis in order to stay healthy.

No wonder, considering their body is mostly made of water with more than 80%! This is why most dogs drink a lot of water in general.

However, some dogs are completely different and almost refuse to drink water. Why is that?

Dogs quickly become dehydrated, which is why water intake is so important to them. So why are some dogs drinking very little, or sometimes no water at all? This is an article where we explore the possible reasons behind this behavior and give you tips on how to make your dog drink more.

But first of all, in order for you to know what’s “enough”, we have to answer the following question:

How Much Water Should Dogs Drink?

If you give your dog access to fresh drinking water all the time, will he or she be able to determine what amount is enough? Interestingly enough the answer to this question is – no! Even though some dogs will know instinctively the perfect amount for them, others will either drink too much or too little water.

Having this in mind, it’s important to keep an eye on how much your dog is drinking. If your dog is drinking too much water it could even lead to intoxication, while too little water result in dehydration and everything that accompanies it.

So, how much water is appropriate? The general recommendation for a healthy dog, on a daily basis, is between 1/2 and 1 ounce of water per pound of the dog’s body weight. This means that a 65-pound dog, like the Labrador Retriever, should be drinking between 33 and 65 ounces of water – that is from 1/4 to 1/2 gallon of water.

Puppies should drink smaller amounts of water every couple of hours, which is why you should monitor and encourage water drinking. You should also consider the food your dog is eating, as dogs who only eat dry food should drink more water than those who have a more varied diet.

How Do I Tell If My Dog Is Dehydrated?

General symptoms of dehydration in dogs are:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Dark urine that’s strong in odor

Besides these symptoms, there’s a great way to check if your dog is dehydrated. Lift some skin in the back of its neck and let it go. If the skin falls back into place quickly it’s an indicator of a well hydrated dog. However, if the skin falls slowly and forms something similar to a tent it’s a clear sign of dehydration.

You can also inspect your dog’s gums. If they’re moist and slick you have nothing to worry about, but if they’re dry and sticky it’s the body’s way of telling you it needs more water. Check out the video below and learn more!

So…what could be behind it? Why is your dog not drinking enough water?

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Drinking Enough

A lot of reasons could be behind this problem – from health to psychological issues. It could also indicate something less serious, such as colder weather when dogs don’t pant as much as during warmer days. Whatever the reason – it’s important to establish the cause in order to know how to deal with the problem. Let’s take a look at what they could be!

1. Painful Mouth

Dogs love to eat, nothing new there! To the point they sometimes eat something that’s bad for them. But what worse is – they can sometimes eat things that aren’t edible!

In these cases, it’s very common for the objects to become lodged or injure the dog’s mouth. As a result, the mouth hurts so badly they refuse to eat and drink! For example, your dog may have broken a tooth by chewing rocks or something similar.

If you suspect that this is the case, you should inspect your dog’s mouth and take him or her to the vet for examination and potential removal of unwanted objects.

2. Stress And Anxiety

Sensitive dogs tend to eat and drink less if something is bothering them. Different situations can be stressful, depending on the dog. Sometimes it can be a new family member, guests or separation anxiety. Fortunately, this doesn’t last for long as the dog only needs time to adapt to the new situation.

3. New Environment

Sometimes it’s the new environment that’s causing problems. A move or a vacation can sometimes be overwhelming and requires time to adjust – resulting in no water drinking.

Some dogs also have a hard time adjusting to new water. The smell and the taste might be very different to them. For example, if they’re switching to well water from tap water or the other way around. Try mixing the new with bottled water so that your dog can adjust gradually.

4. Aging

Older dogs drink much less water than what younger dogs do. This phenomenon has a couple of reasons behind it. Older dogs tend to exercise less, their appetite and thus their thirst decrease and some find it tiring to reach for the water bowl.

Whatever the reason, you still have to make sure your dog gets enough water since not drinking enough could lead to constipation. By elevating the water bowl or switching to wet food this problem can be solved.

5. Lack Of Exercise

If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise the need for water isn’t that big either. When dogs exercise they get hot and breath faster which results in thirst. So, if your dog hasn’t been that active lately it’s normal that the thirst level has gone down as well. As you can imagine, this will be solved with more walks and runs.

6. Illness

Unfortunately, not drinking enough water can indicate an illness. Certain illnesses tend do increase the dog’s thirst, while others decrease it. There could be various health problems behind it, such as diabetes, kidney disease or urinary tract infection.

In rare cases, these diseases can lead to a complete absence of thirst. It’s usually bladder infection, UTI or adrenal gland disease that are behind this abnormal decrease in thirst. If you notice that your dog shows symptoms of lethargy or pain, alongside the thirst decrease, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible in order to get a proper diagnose and treatment.

7. Traumatic Experience

It’s not unusual for dogs to refuse water after a traumatic experience, such as a surgery or some kind of medical procedure. If your dog underwent an intervention, such as castration, neutering, dental surgery or spaying he or she might be traumatized and therefore refusing water.

8. Water Bowl Contamination

As you know, dogs have much more sensitive noses than us. According to your standards, your dog’s bowl may seem as clean as it can be, while your dog may not share this opinion. Even the tiniest amount of food, dirt or bacteria doesn’t go unnoticed and can stop your dog from drinking.

This problem is completely up to you to solve. Always clean the bowl in boiling water and be sure to rinse off all detergent before you dry it. Remember – you and your dog might have different standards at this point!

How Do I Determine Why My Dog Isn’t Drinking Water?

dog not drinking enough water

As you can see, a lot of reasons could be behind this problem. Fortunately, most of them can be solved one way or another – it’s just important to determine the exact cause!

The first thing you need to do when you notice the decrease in water drinking is to ask yourself – has anything changed in my dog’s life recently? Have you moved, changed water or has he had a medical intervention?

If the answer to these questions is yes it probably means that your dog needs time to adjust to the new situation or to recover from the recent problem. Obviously, there are some things you can do to facilitate this process. Scroll down and check out some tips on how to help your dog drink more water.

If you can’t think of something different in your pet’s life, check for injuries in its mouth or look for other symptoms of illness – usually kidney disease or various bladder problems.

Lastly, it could be something more simple like age, lack of exercise or water bowl that aren’t clean enough. These are the most easy problems to fix, by cleaning the bowls or making it easier for your older dog to reach it.

10 Tips How To Help Your Dog Drink More Water

1. Buy More Water Bowls

Put a couple of water bowls around the house. That way your dog will have access to water at all times and constantly be reminded of it. One bowl in each room is a great idea.

2. Try Switching The Bowl

There are a lot of different ones, such as ceramic, steel, plastic and glass. If your dog isn’t drinking enough water try changing the existing bowl or keep a variety of them in your house. That way you will be able to see which one your dog prefers.

3. Make The Water Accessible

Besides putting a lot of water bowls around your place you should also think about how to make the drinking comfortable for your dog. For instance, elevated bowls are great for older dogs as they don’t have to stretch that much.

4. Add Water To Your Dog Food

This might sound gross to you at first, but if your dog is not drinking enough water, adding a bit of water to the dog food might be a good way to ensure he still gets some water intake. That way you will incorporate water and increase the water intake indirectly. This is especially important if your dog eats mostly dry food.

5. Implement Canned Food To Your Dog’s Diet

Canned dog food is usually made up of 70-80% moisture, as opposed to the 10% in dry food. This way your dog will get water from the food without thinking about it. Canned food is generally good for dogs every once in a while, so it might be wise to have a small supply of it in your home.

6. Keep The Water And Bowls Clean

Be sure to change the water frequently and keep it fresh and healthy that way. Also, don’t forget to wash the bowls as slime that build up in them can contain bacteria. Not only, but dust and other potentially dangerous particles could be entering your dog’s water bowl and making him refuse to drink.

7. Get Creative

Give your dog ice cubes or watermelon. Most dogs love playing with ice cubes! And even though watermelon is very sweet and can’t replace water it’s still a contribution to your dog’s water intake. Feed your pup with foods that are rich in water content.

8. Get A Pet Fountain

This could be a very fun way for your dog to drink water as many dogs love moving water! On top of that, it’s filtered water so you don’t have to change it as frequently.

9. Flavor The Water

By adding some flavoring to the water, such as low sodium chicken broth, the water can get more interesting and feel almost like a treat. Some people even add goat milk in powder or similar things that would make the water more appealing to your dog.

10. Bring Water With You Everywhere

Nowadays, there are so many traveling water bowls, bottles and cups to choose from so you can always be prepared during outings. This is especially crucial during summer days, when there is a higher risk of heatstroke.


Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Yes, a lot of different reasons could be behind this problem but you’re on the right way toward solving it – now that you know what different reasons could be behind it!

Always monitor for other symptoms, besides the decrease in water intake, and think about possible changes in your and your dog’s life. Chances are it could be something simple, like less exercise than usually or colder weather, but it could also be something stressful to your dog, like a move or change in rituals.

Once you’ve determined the cause, do everything you can to help and to make this problem go away. Fortunately, with a little bit of effort you will be able to get back on track. Don’t underestimate the importance of water – it’s essential in our lives and in your dog’s life as well!