Dog Care

4 Reasons Why Your Dog Has Stopped Drinking Water

A pet refusing to drink can a worrisome sign, no matter how long it goes on. Dogs may refuse to drink water for a short period or an extended one, but the longer it goes, the worse it bodes for your pet. If you understand why the dog may not be drinking water, you can rule out likely causes before you take your pet to the vet. Here are 4 reasons why your dog may have stopped drinking water.

An Obstruction in the Mouth

If your dog has a burr in their mouth or injury, they may be reluctant to drink. The surest way to check is to encourage them to open their mouth and look. If they don’t want to drink or open their mouth when offered a treat, go to the vet. If you see cuts, scrapes or bleeding inside the mouth, you’ll want them evaluated by a vet as soon as possible if it is preventing them from drinking.

Strange Smells

A dog’s sense of smell is far superior to that of humans. If you go to a new place, they may refuse to drink the water because it smells different. Your local tap water may smell different, too. One way to determine if this is the cause is to give your dog filtered water or even distilled water. If your dog will drink this chemical free, smell-free water, then you know it is the water source. If they still won’t drink, there’s something else going on.


Some dogs are picky eaters. A few are picky drinkers. For puppies you just got from the breeder that haven’t yet drunk from a water bowl, you could try to use a puppy water bottle that is akin to a baby bottle but for pets. If the pet drinks from this but not the water bowl, you know it is a matter of training. Dogs that have been through an upsetting experience, including moving to a new home, may have the jitters and not drink for a day or so. If they don’t drink tomorrow, too, then you need to be concerned.


When you ask why my dog wont drink water and we’ve ruled out injury and sensitivity, the next likely cause is illness. This is increasingly likely if the pet is in pain or very lethargic. Older dogs and sick dogs may be in too much pain to get to the water bowl. You can test this by putting the water bowl close to where they spend their day. If the pet drinks from the convenient bowl, you know that they’re sick but not actively avoiding drinking. If the dog still drinks a little but it doesn’t seem to be enough, switch to moist dog food or mix broth with the solid food to see if they’ll eat and drink it.

If they’re still reluctant to drink, they could have anything from parvo to leptospirosis to rabies and need to be seen by a vet.

There are many factors that could affect your dog’s thirst or lack thereof. In any case, it would be wise to visit a vet as soon as possible to prevent dehydration.