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Oh, no… your dog is not drinking enough water because he is sick. How to get a sick dog to drink water without losing all your nerves?

Having an ill dog is already an issue to begin with. There are numerous reasons why your Fido refuses to drink water all of a sudden. What happened to him? What kind of medical condition is bothering your dog?

Making a sick dog drink water is one of the toughest tasks you’ll have to take on as a dog owner. And, trust me… you won’t have much success doing it. Only some rare occasions when a dog is not too ill will bring you success. Otherwise, you’ll fail, and will have to call your vet.

While there are a few things you can try at home to make your sick dog drink water, I still recommend you keep your vet posted. Chances are, you will need his help.

In case you ever stumble upon such situations, and you have to make a dog drink water fast, here are some solutions.

How To Get A Sick Dog To Drink Water

dog drinking water from a bowldog drinking water from a bowl

Illness and dehydration go hand in hand together. The second most important thing, besides trying to find a way to make your dog feel better, is making sure your dog is well hydrated.

If your dog becomes dehydrated, that could cause even more issues, which could complicate the already-complicated health problems.

Fortunately, any mild problem with water consumption can be solved rather quickly. There are some tricks I will teach you that should help your dog start drinking water again. What’s so great is that these tricks will also work even if your dog is not ill. 

There comes a time in every dog’s life when he avoids eating or drinking because of a certain reason. Sometimes, it’s just boredom, but sometimes, it isn’t.

It’s good to remember these tricks and use them until one proves its efficiency.

Offer Fresh Drinking Water

A man gives a dog a bowl of water in the park.A man gives a dog a bowl of water in the park.

There’s nothing better than fresh water for your dog. In the cases of severe dehydration and medical conditions that affect the habit of drinking water, water is the only fluid they need. Stop with broth or chicken soup. While these may be good for other conditions, water is really what you should offer your dog.

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Just simple, fresh water, served in your dog’s standard water bowl is what Fido needs.

Water is also the best choice in case your dog is sick with nausea. Sometimes, they’ll have diarrhea or vomit all night long. In that case, it’s really not a good idea to give them anything else besides water. Such conditions can exhaust their little body, and H2O is simply more than enough.

And, when I say offer your dog water, I mean offer it every now and then until your dog takes at least a sip. Don’t get discouraged if your dog turns his head at first. Be persistent just to make sure your pup gets hydrated.

Change The Temperature

Sometimes, dogs don’t like the temperature of the offered water. His condition may not be that severe to avoid drinking water, but he may have some preferences. In this case, you should offer colder or warmer water, depending on your dog’s liking.

Usually, dogs will pick the colder option. You should ensure that the water isn’t too cold or it may make your buddy’s tummy ill, too. The last thing you guys need is a cold followed by diarrhea.

Some dog owners opt to put ice cubes into their dog’s water bowl. I have nothing against it… just don’t put way too many cubes. Dogs find them refreshing and amusing. In most cases, ice cubes will be terrific stimulans for drinking more water.

In some cases, your dog might want warmer water. Offer a tad bit warmer water than usual. Of course, be careful not to offer hot water or your dog could get burned.

Listen to your dog’s needs and play by their rules.

Trick Them With Food

Sometimes, a dog’s condition won’t be that severe, and he’ll still have an appetite. A lack of interest in water is usually the first thing that pops up, followed by a lack of appetite.

If, by any case, your dog is still interested in food, you can try adding water to his meal. However, you can’t just add water to any meal. Dogs that eat kibble will end up with a mushy meal. While puppy mush is recommended and tasty, it’s still food for puppies. Older dogs might not like it.

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Pick a food that already has some liquid inside. Wet food cans or tuna cans are the ideal option. Sprinkle some water on top of it and offer the bowl to your dog. Don’t make a flood out of it because your dog still needs to eat.

Your dog will, soon enough, start licking his lips!

Think of added water as an extra opportunity for your dog to ingest enough water. Usually, this trick works like a charm, but only if your dog isn’t in severe distress.

Tap Water Is Just Fine

photo of a sink with tap waterphoto of a sink with tap water

Water is a liquid without a taste, right? But, why do some waters taste… different?

Whether we like to admit it or not, water doesn’t taste the same, especially if it’s a comparison between tap and bottled water.

I understand that a lot of you guys only want the best for your fancy pooches. That’s why you offer them bottled options you normally buy for yourself. But, that’s really not necessary. It’s an extra cost you can totally reduce because dogs can drink tap water without any problems. 

Your dog doesn’t really know the difference between water brands. All he cares about is getting hydrated.

If I were you, and my dog is refusing to drink water because he’s coming down with a condition, I’d switch to the basics and introduce tap water again. There’s a huge chance your dog will love the temperature of it and pick it over the fancy stuff any time.

Increase The Offered Amount Of Water

What you must understand is that dogs won’t drink gallons of water immediately upon finishing their water strike. Let them take things gradually.

First, offer a few teaspoons of water. If your dog accepts it, then increase the quantity until he drinks an ounce.

Of course, your dog will not start drinking the recommended amount of water immediately, but any change for the better is more than welcome.

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Change The Water Bowl

Some dogs dislike the taste of plastic or metal water bowls. Maybe your dog is that picky, too?

If nothing else really works out, try switching your dog’s water bowl.

Sometimes, the simplest reason might be hiding behind a condition we thought was severe.

If you want more practical help, I’ve got this pretty useful video off of YouTube that could help you and your dog.

Why Isn’t My Dog Drinking Enough Water?

small dog drinking watersmall dog drinking water

When a dog is not drinking enough water, there could be numerous reasons. However, all of them demand medical assistance.

Skipping to drink water regularly for a day could be a sign your dog is busy or simply not too thirsty. But, having this behavioral pattern for more than one day is a bit odd, don’t you think?

What happened to your dog all of a sudden? Did he become ill overnight? Yes, and no.

Usually, refusing to drink water could mean your dog is experiencing lots of hidden issues that didn’t show symptoms earlier. Maybe it was just the ideal day for your dog to start showing the first signs by refusing to drink water.

Also, sometimes dogs come up with a health condition overnight. You can never tell.

But, you can take your dog to the vet and have him examined.

If your vet excludes the most common conditions like renal failure, infections, or tumors, you can suspect other things as to why your dog is not drinking enough water.

Luckily, the rest of the reasons aren’t too severe like renal failure.

In most cases, dogs will start refusing water if they’re becoming old. If you have a senior dog, and you notice his water bowl is staying full, you should take him to the vet. Normally, senior dogs don’t drink as much water as their younger companions.

Also, stress could be the trigger as to why your dog is not hydrated. Unfamiliar surroundings, changes in the routine, or changes in the living conditions can all be signs of why your dog is not sipping from that water bowl.

dog drinking waterdog drinking water

There is a fine line between hydration and overhydration. Also, dehydration is a constant threat. You can say there are quite a few problems with dogs and water. First, we have to remind them to drink water, and now we have to worry if that’s too much water?

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Water intoxication is a real deal and a potential problem for our canine buddies, so we must be extra careful with it.

The general rule of thumb is that every dog should drink 1 ounce of water per every pound of body weight.

This means smaller pups like Chihuahuas will drink only a couple of ounces of water every day. Imagine how much water a Newfoundland dog needs!

Water is a fuel that flushes out toxins from our body, and keeps our cells functioning properly.

You should always provide fresh drinking water to your dog, but monitor his intake. This doesn’t mean you should leave out a huge bowl filled to the top with water. Check out your dog’s water bowl throughout the day and refill it as needed.

It’s much better to have fresh water coming constantly than to sip on the stale stuff all day long… don’t you agree?

Days Or Hours Without Water? 

sad bernese mountain dogsad bernese mountain dog

Just because dogs can go without water for a while doesn’t mean you should allow that. 

Water is more important to us and our canine buddies than food. Dogs can go a lot without food. Sometimes, their health conditions demand they either fast or decline food. But, the one thing they can’t and should not decline is water.

Not every dog is the same. Some will go longer without water while others will experience problems within the first 24 hours.

Generally speaking… dogs can go without water for 48 to 72 hours. But, I’d never gamble and take that risk. The more your dog is being left without water, the more chance he has of developing renal issues and suffering brain damage.

The most important thing you can do for your dog that’s refusing to drink water is inform your vet and have him ready for an emergency. Also, offer your dog water all the time so he knows his water bowl is there waiting for him.

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An old veterinarian once told me to gently push a dog’s muzzle into a bowl with water just to get him at least a few drops of water.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should shove your dog’s head down in the bowl. Be gentle and watch your dog’s body language. If he’s tolerating this action, repeat it a few times throughout the day. Maybe he’ll finally start drinking water again once he realizes what he is missing out on.

The bottom line is encourage your dog to drink water, even if it means putting his head into the bowl or using a syringe to squirt out small amounts of water into his mouth.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Dehydrated

golden retriever in front of a full bowl of foodgolden retriever in front of a full bowl of food

Oh, trust me… you’ll know if your dog is dehydrated. There are lots of signs that tell the owner that the dog needs an extra serving of water.

While dogs tend to whine and beg for more dog food, they don’t do the same thing for water. Funny enough, as water doesn’t suit them at all. Our canine buddies prefer to munch on kibble than to sip icy fresh water.

That’s why we dog owners are there to control the situation. If we leave everything as it is and let our dogs drink water when they want, we’d soon end up with quite a problem.

A dog’s body will give us signs that he’s dehydrated and needs water as soon as possible.

The first and most obvious sign that a dog is dehydrated is loss of appetite. Dogs with a strong appetite drink water to flush down the food, and also because their body sends signals that it’s needed. When a dog doesn’t have an appetite, he’ll immediately stop drinking water, too.

Once a dog doesn’t drink enough water, you can notice changes in his urine. There are right and wrong colors according to the dog’s urine color chart. Any urine that’s too dark and funny-looking could be a sign of dehydration.

In addition, a foul odor of your dog’s urine can also be a sign he’s dehydrated. He’s not peeing as much as he did before, and you can also see him avoiding going potty as if he’s in discomfort. The discomfort is absolutely justified because the lack of water could make their potty breaks painful.

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If you’re suspecting your dog is dehydrated, you can perform a few quick tests that will help you determine what’s wrong.

In most cases, a simple pinch test will tell you if your dog is dehydrated. Pinch the back of your dog’s neck, and if the skin goes back normally, then he’s not dehydrated. If the skin goes back very slowly, that’s a clear sign of dehydration.

Lastly, if your dog’s gums are pale white, and they’re not turning pink when you press a finger onto them, that’s your sign. Go, visit the vet and check out what’s wrong with your dog.

When Should You Notify The Vet? 

vet holding a dogvet holding a dog

I’d say the right time to visit a vet is when your dog starts acting lethargic.

Every time a dog has zero interest in everyday activities, I’d consider that a warning sign. Dogs should be happy and bouncing around. They should not be snoozing in the corner, no matter how lazy their breed is.

If a high body temperature kicks in, that would be a clear sign something is wrong with your dog. However, I wouldn’t wait that long. I’d rush my dog to the vet the moment I notice his behavior has changed abruptly.

Final Thoughts

There are several ways to get a sick dog to drink water. I’d try them all if my dog was having issues with drinking water. But, I wouldn’t experiment for too long. The moment you notice signs like lethargy, bad urine smell or color, or fever, you should rush your dog to the emergency.

Dogs should drink enough water every day to prevent dehydration and renal failure.

Water is more important that we all realize. Make sure there’s always fresh and clean water in your dog’s water bowl. Don’t do anything fancy; there’s really no need for it.

Flavored waters, fancy bottles, and all that are not what your dog needs.

He needs to stay hydrated with normal tap water, and that’s it.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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