Skip to main content
Aiuto! Il mio cane non beve l'acqua

Help! My dog won’t drink water!

How can it be that my dog won’t drink water? What can be wrong?

Have you also asked yourself those questions? Don’t worry, you are not alone!  Under most circumstances, dogs will drink sufficiently and they will remain well hydrated with no encouragement, but sometimes our dogs just aren’t thirsty. This article may help you understand why your dog won’t drink water.

My dog won’t drink water!

Dogs, like humans, need to drink water every day as they are at risk from dehydration if they don’t do. They are actually at greater risk than humans because they release heat from their bodies much more slowly. Dogs do have some sweat glands in the foot-pads, but not enough to cool their body. The body temperature of a dog is mostly controlled through panting. Water is, therefore, very important for a dog and we, as dog owners, need to provide our pups with enough water every day. However, sometimes it may happen that our dear pets refuses to drink water due to the following reasons:

#1 Less exercise

When the weather is cooler or your dog is doing less exercise, your dog just isn’t that thirsty. If this is the reason, there is no need to worry! A slight decrease in his water consumption is no cause for alarm. However, consult a vet if your dog persistently refuses to drink. Dogs should never go for more than a day without water.

#2 Disease and illness

Certain health issues can cause a dog’s thirst to vary. In some cases, diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease, may cause a dog’s appetite for water to diminish completely. Bladder infection or urinary tract infection can also cause a decrease in thirst. So if you think your dog won’t drink water because of a disease, you should contact your vet immediately. It’s a good idea to write your dog’s drinking behavior down to help the vet figure out the problem.


dog water

#3 Unfamiliar places and smells

Many dogs will avoid drinking water in strange places because the water smells different from what they are used to at home. These animals have an extremely acute sense of smell, and just a small difference in the water may be very noticeable to them. Although dogs may seem like they don’t care about water quality — they will often drink out of ponds and puddles — they may be very suspicious of anything that smells unfamiliar. If you go somewhere, it might be a good idea to bring a bottle of water from home. Just to make sure your pup gets something to drink.

#4 Aging

An older dog may also avoid drinking water. It could simply be that getting to the water requires too much effort, or that the sense of thirst may be diminishing along with its appetite. Older dogs are doing less exerciser and might not be as thirsty as younger dogs. However, older dogs need to maintain adequate hydration levels, so if drinking seems to be an issue, switching to a moist food might help. But, always consult a vet before changing dog foods.

#5 Fear & bad experiences

Dogs learn by association. If they get a fright or experience pain, they typically associate those negative feelings with the circumstances in which they first experienced them. If your dog have had a bad experience while drinking from the water bowl, for example someone accidentally stepped on his tail or paw, he may associated those negative accidents with the action of drinking. To remove the fear of drinking, you can try to use a new water bowl or you can try to put his water bowl in a different place.

Persuading your dog to drink water

In any circumstances, a dog should drink regularly.  If this isn’t working, there’s a few things you can do to persuade your dog to drink water. Simply changing the position of the water bowl may sometimes work. Another solution is mixing wet dog food with water. Even though your dog won’t drink from the bowl, he may happily drink water when it’s mixed with food. It is also worth making sure that the water bowl is clean. It’s a simple thing to do, but it might work. If your dog still won’t drink water, or if he/she is suffering from an illness, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. In case of illness proper hydration is important to the recovery process and it’s, therefore, very important that your pet gets professional help.

Do you have any tips and tricks on how to get a dog to drink water? Or maybe just a story to share? Please leave a comment below 🙂



Sarah is a Certified Fitness Trainer, pet lover and the happy owner of a 2-year-old Japanese Spitz named Bailey. Sarah spends a lot of time outdoors, running, hiking and biking. She loves inspiring Tractives all over the world with weekly pet tricks and tips.

23 thoughts on “Help! My dog won’t drink water!

  1. My dog is very hard to persuade to drink water. I’m doing what you mentioned on the latter part of your blog, kibble with water. She actually love it when her kibble is wet and she like treating the water like soup and drink it mercilessly after finishing the kibble. I think it’s the most effective way in providing your dog water while not having trouble to persuade her to drink.

  2. I have put my pup’s favorite treat/s in the bottom of her water bowl which forces her to drink the water in order to get to the treat . Of course I don’t fill the bowl up to the top just 1/2 to 1 inch above the treat. This worked well

  3. A mixture of warmed 50/50 homemade bone broth/water really worked well for my pup when he stopped drinking plain water for 2 weeks following his knee surgery over a year ago. He’s recovering from acute colitis now after a course of antibiotics (he swallowed a toy) and is again not drinking plain water. I fill his bowl with the broth/water combo several times a day and at night. I also add warmed broth and water to his meals to make sure he stays hydrated.

  4. I have a small terrier mix I got her from an individual she’s about a year old and I can’t get her to drink water , I don’t really know to much about her history but in order to get water into her body is to add some water to her food and she does drink it . she has no problem using the bathroom I’m just worried that she isn’t getting enough , I do feed her 2x a day . any feed back would be highly appreciated. thanks 😀

    1. Hi Marie,

      That sounds good that she is drinking now when adding some water to her food. It would be good to have additionally a bowl of water next to the food, in case she would like to drink more.

      All the best for your dog!


    2. I have the same problem. i have to give her the water with a syringe,Its the only wait she likes it

      1. 2 yrs ago my dog stopped drinking water for 3-4 wks.
        Broth/watered milk, only w/me, vet/puzzled. Later found lighting hit tree about 20′ from steel bowl. She was always terrified of lighting.
        After getting over this, never had problem again. No more close calls w/lighting.

    3. I am going through the exact same thing
      She quit drinking water about 2wks ago.
      She will drink a little from one of my neighbors but that’s it. So I also have had to add water to her meals, it’s the only way to get it in her. I have had people suggest Popsicles but that’s a lot of sugar.

  5. My dog eating food but hasn’t ability to drink water. Been to vets who gave her antibiotics and injection. She now eats but can’t drink, I’ve been using a turkey blaster to get fluid into her which she drinks. My dod is 14 year old female shar-pei.

    1. Our 10 month old pup just got out of the vet hospital 4 days of iv because she stopped drinking and then stopped eating! They have done many tests and cant find anything wrong. What I have been doing is small salad plate water in bottom flavored with small amount of milk or peanut butter or bone broth, cream etc alternating at least once a day every hour or so. Also i switch dishes often so she thinks it is something different. it is helping some. I have been giving her anything she wants to eat burger chicken turkey rice with butter etc.. But I have noticed that if i give her more then a 1/3 cup of anything she wont touch it. WAS almost 50 pounds Now skin & bones so that is a lot of tiny meals and small plates of flavored water. I also got some grass fed shank calf bones and scrape out the bone marrow (she likes that) and use the bone for the broth.

  6. A vet suggested that I use baby food (turkey, chicken, ham, etc.) to make a broth for my dog who wouldn’t drink water. The baby food is soft and creamy and works well. My dog loves it.

  7. This has been very helpful, thanks! My 2 year old vizsla is a very fussy rescue. Doesn’t drink much at all. I’m willing to try anything.

    1. Hi Allean,

      I am happy to hear that this was helpful for you and I hope you can get your pup to drink.


  8. I got my dobe as a rescue on Dec 2 2016. She came from a dubious background just stated as a ‘puppy mill’ in Pa. and used exclusively for breeding. Anyhow it’s 3 1/2 months later and she has NEVER, not once taken a lap of water. In fact she has upset the water bowl intentionally. Have tried the crate water bottles, different bowls, materials, etc. She refuses to drink. We had her at the vet’s early on treated for dehydration and decided to feed her multiple times during the day with can food mixed with water, which she will drink. THis is not really satisfactory though. Based on her getting dehydrated without going the extra length of adding water to canned food, we are fairly certain she will allow herself to die even with water always available in a bowl for her. She does have other mental issues too though as she is about 4 years old and apparently never taken out of a crate for walks, socialization or anything as she didn’t even know how to run. She will panic even now over a blowing leaf or a bird noise and we have tried to introduce the world to her.

    But without drinking water there will certainly be problems during the warm summer months.

  9. Glad to have read all these posts. My dog and I walk a mile every day & upon our return, he runs to his water bowl. Recently he drank sprinkler water from the side of the road and it had sand plus he licks bird poop. So after his bout of diareah I give him his antibiotic and soft GI FOOD recommended for a few days by vet but he’s now not drinking at all. Got some chicken broth, mix the 50/50 ratio more or less and he chows it down so fast it’s amazing. I also add some plain water to soft food and he drinks it too. I’d hate this to be an issue and wind up at vet again with a bigger bill and injections, so thank you thank you for this blog. 🐾

  10. I have rescued an 8 year old shitzu a week ago. Eats, pees and poops ok. BUT… she will not drink in the house. Eats snow as soon as we go out for our walk. Changed the bowls, mixed it with kibble. Been to the vet when I first got her: clean bill of health. Help!

    1. Hi linda, that’s my problem too. I got my dog from a friend, didn’t know his health history but he undergone surgery a month ago. He’s eating, pooping and peeing normally but it’s really hard to persuade him to drink water. I tried mixing chicken broth to his water, it worked once but on the other day he doesn’t want it. 😖😖😖

  11. I have a 6 week old pikenise… she eats but doesn’t drink water.. she eats dog food which I soak in water and then add plain yogert.. but no water… Help please??

    1. Try raw goats milk it’s high in fat and full of probiotics. This is one of the best things you can do to help with good gut health waeight gain and it’s complete and balanced… bone broth is also good in between goat milk.

      Good luck!

    2. Raw goats milk has tons of probiotics and a great way to get moisture in the diet….generally lack of interest in water is a sign of kidney issues, diabetes, or a UTI… is it possible he/she ate something toxic? Try distilled water as well it is pure with no chemicals or funny smells. Watch to see if urine is discolored (dark) or any funny odor. Also keep in mind puppies have small bladders and may not drink as much as you expect. Check to see if the gums are sticky that’s a good sign of dehydration concerns if they are sticky or tacky. Also low sodium broth may help… either way if two or more days go without water see a vet ASAP!
      Best of luck!!

Leave a Reply

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