"Moisture plays a vital role in your dog's health," says Krystn Janisse, from Homes Alive Pets. "In the wild, dogs would get most of their moisture from their diet. If you are feeding a dry kibble or dehydrated food, then you should consider finding other ways to encourage more water consumption."
In general, dogs need 1 oz of water for every pound of body weight, but this will also depend on several other factors like their overall health, activity level, type of food they eat, and the external temp. In hot weather, dogs need 3–6 times more water.
"Staying hydrated throughout the year is not only important for yourself, it’s important for your pets as well," says Latasha Ball from Pets Global, Inc. "Sometimes it can be difficult to get your dogs to drink water or make drinking water just as much fun as they have with eating food."
Here are eight suggestions to help keep your pet hydrated.
1. Keep water bowls clean
"It is best to clean out their water bowls daily and fill it back up with fresh, clean water," says Sara Ochoa, DVM, Veterinary Consultant for doglab.com.
"Water bowls can easily gather bacteria over time from their backwash," says Ball, "so it’s important to keep their bowls cleaned regularly and change out their water on a daily basis to make sure it’s fresh and clean. After all, if we wouldn’t drink murky water, why would your dog want to?"
2. Try a pet fountain
"Some doggies really enjoy drinking water from a stream (like the hose or sink) so getting an automatic water bowl fountain can make drinking water much more enticing for them." suggests Karissa Whitman, Prior ER/ICU Veterinary Technician and current owner/blogger of FitMommyStrong.
Ball agrees: "This is by far the best investment I made for my dogs. I have noticed my dogs drink a lot more water with a pet fountain. Why? Just the activity of them drinking from the water spouting up from the bowl is very fun for them. Pet fountains like the Drinkwell 2 Gallon Pet Fountain also hold a lot more water than your average water bowl."
3. Try different water temperatures
"Dogs, like humans, are individuals and have preferences," advises Russel Hartstein, CEO of Los Angeles dog training company Fun Paw Care. "Some dogs like room temperature water more than cold water and vice-versa." You can help keep your pup’s water cold with ice cubes, suggests Ochoa.
Don’t forget "many dogs love ice cubes! Especially during the summer. And snow during the winter, says Hartstein. This is an easy way to add water while treating your pet with something you already have around the house or outside, in the case of snow.
4. Make some pupsicles
"Make puppy popsicles for your pet," suggests Ben Team, Senior Content Editor of K9 of Mine. This is a great way to treat your dog, while helping him to stay hydrated. There are many variations of frozen treats that you can try:
- Fruit — "You can freeze a little fruit juice and give it to your dog as a treat to help keep him hydrated. Just be sure to avoid fruits that aren’t safe for dogs (especially grapes), and be prepared for your pup to make a bit of a mess." — Team
- Broth — "One of our favorite things to do is to take our nutrient-dense Bone Broth and pour it into ice trays. Once it freezes, they can enjoy frozen bone broth cubes alone or in water for a fun, functional treat." — Leasa Moltke, Pet Nutrition Expert, Solid Gold Pet
- Treats — Freeze dog treats inside of ice cubes."This will create a game that will encourage your dog to melt the ice faster so they can get to the treats." — Lucy Harris, HelloBabyBump
5. Have multiple water bowls
"To make drinking water more accessible for your dogs," says Ball, "it’s best to have more than one water bowl in your house. It’s best practice to keep a water bowl in each area that your dog spends the most time such as the living room, bedroom, kitchen and maybe one in the hallway if they spend the most time there."
Make water easily accessible, all throughout the day. Whitman suggests that pet owners "Have multiple water bowls available around the house and outside (if pet has access to being outdoors)." She says, "I typically put out three large bowls of water for my two large breed dogs!"
"Make sure that your dog has more than one water bowl, says Ochoa. "If they spend time outside, keep them a water bowl outside to drink in as well as on the inside." When you are placing a water bowl outside, remember that where you put it matters. "Always have water available in the shade," says Harris. She puts it this way: "You don't like drinking warm or hot water, so why would your pet? Keeping their water available for them throughout the day in a shaded area will allow them to be able to continuously drink without dealing with warm/hot water."
6. Bring water when you leave the house
Debi McKee from Rescue Dogs 101 advises that you "keep fresh water available all day and always take water with you when traveling."
You might want to invest in a collapsible bow, says Ball. "If your dog is riding with you in your car, it’s great to keep a collapsible bowl in your car to utilize in case your dog gets thirsty while you’re out traveling. They’re affordable and very convenient."
7. Add water to their dog food and vice versa
Lauren Burke from Early Alert Canines explains an issue all-too-familiar for dog parents: "My service dog (trained by the org I now work for) often refuses to drink water."
What’s her solution?
"She's very food motivated," says Burke, "so often I will 'float' her food — meaning put about a cup of water into her cup of food."
"Let’s face it," says Team, "Water isn’t exactly delicious — it’s just wet. So, if you’re trying to get your four-footer to drink more water, consider adding something tasty to his dish." Here are a few different ways that you can add some more moisture to your dog’s diet:
- "You can try giving them some wet food instead of or in addition to their dry extruded ‘kibble.’ This wet food is simply their dry food with water added." — Hartstein
- "Have them drink their food. Dry kibble is packed full of protein and holistic ingredients for your pup to be at their best, but adding some wet food or bone broth to their favorite dry food can take hydration to the next level." — Moltke
- "A small piece or two of a dog-safe fruit (like watermelon or a couple of squished blueberries) may work for some pups, while others may find a small splash of chicken stock makes their water more appealing." — Team
8. Try an elevated feeder
"[I]f you have a larger dog that doesn’t want to drink from a bowl on the floor, it could simply be that it’s uncomfortable," says Whitman. "Try using an elevated dog feeder so they aren’t having to reach their head down too far just to lap up some water."
We hope these suggestions will be useful and help keep your dog healthy and safe. "If you suspect your dog is seriously dehydrated, contact your vet immediately," advises Team. "It is usually pretty easy to rehydrate a dog who is only slightly dehydrated, but seriously dehydrated dogs may require intravenous fluids, and their electrolytes may become unbalanced and require attention too."