How to Help Your Dog if It Stops Drinking Water

Water is essential to a dog’s life because it is the most important nutrient for survival. Your canine must drink enough water to stay hydrated and healthy. But what if your dog isn’t drinking enough water?

There could be several reasons why your dog isn’t drinking water. They also have different water consumption requirements depending on how old or active they are. Younger, more active dogs, such as puppies, will require more water than senior dogs. Their requirements also vary according to their size.

In most cases, dogs will drink enough and stay hydrated without prompting, but our dogs aren’t always thirsty. This article may assist you in understanding why your dog refuses to drink water and what you can do about it.

Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Drinking Water

a chihuahua with its tongue out near its water bowl

To keep themselves hydrated, most dogs drink a lot of water. But what if your dog refuses to drink water? Here are some of the possible reasons your dog stopped drinking water.

Inactivity or a Lack of Physical Activity

If the weather is cold and your dog has less exercise than usual, he may not be thirsty. There isn’t a need to be troubled if this is the case! A slight difference in water consumption due to decreased activity is not a cause for concern.

However, if your dog continues to refuse to drink, you should consult a veterinarian. You should never withhold water from dogs for more than a day.

Unfamiliar Locations

Unfamiliar smells and environments can cause your dog to refuse to drink. And, with their keen sense of smell, dogs can tell the difference between unfamiliar and familiar water sources. However, if the water’s smell is unfamiliar to your dog, it may refuse to drink it.

A dog’s thirst can fluctuate due to a variety of health issues. In some cases, illnesses such as kidney disease and diabetes can cause a dog’s thirst to disappear entirely. A decrease in thirst can also be caused by a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection.

So, if you suspect your dog is refusing to drink the water due to a disease, you must contact your veterinarian right away. It’s a good idea to document your dog’s drinking habits to assist the vet in determining the issue.


An elderly dog may also refuse to drink water. It could merely be that getting to the water is too difficult or that the sense of thirst is fading along with its appetite. Because older dogs get less exercise, they may not be as thirsty as younger dogs.

However, older dogs must maintain appropriate hydration levels, so switching to moist food may be beneficial if drinking appears to be a problem. Before changing your dog’s food, as always, consult your veterinarian.

Here are some dog food and feeding tips that might help.

Negative Experiences and Fear

Dogs learn through association. When they feel pain or fear, they usually associate those bad feelings with the circumstances that caused them to feel that way.

If your dog has had quite a bad incident while drinking from the water bowl, such as when someone steps on its paw or tail, it may associate those negative events with the action of drinking. You can try using a new water bowl or moving its water bowl to a different location to alleviate its fear of drinking.

How Much Water Must Dogs Drink Daily?

a dog drinking water from its bowl

If you know your dog’s weight, you can easily calculate how much water he should drink each day:

To calculate your dog’s weight in kilograms, divide their weight in pounds by 2.2. Then, multiply that by 50 to get an idea of how much water your dog should drink per day.

A 40-pound dog, for example, should drink approximately 909 milliliters of water per day, which is slightly less than 4 cups.

How to Encourage Your Dog to Drink More Water

In any case, a dog must drink regularly. Your dog could become dehydrated if this is not done. If your dog isn’t drinking water like they used to, there are a few things you can do to get them to:

Clean water bowl: It is important to check that the bowl is clean. It’s a simple solution, but it might work.

Changing position: Changing the placement of the water bowl may help at times.

Food mixing: Another option is to mix wet dog food with water. Even if your dog does not drink from the bowl, it may drink water mixed with food.

Replace the water bowl: Avoid using metal water bowls because your dog may be afraid of the noise. If possible, use a glass water bowl.

Contact the veterinarian: If your dog still refuses to drink water or they are ill, you should see a veterinarian as early as possible. In the event of illness, proper hydration is critical to the recovery process, so your pet must receive professional care.

Diagnosing Severe Dehydration in Dogs

two dogs lying down

If you’re concerned about your dog’s water intake and want to know how much he’s drinking, you can keep track of how much he’s drinking. Measure out the amount you’ll be putting in your dog’s bowl, and then check the level the next day.

You can carry out simple tests to determine if your dog is dehydrated.

Examine their eyes; they should be alert and bright. Their gums should be moist; you can assess their capillary refill time by gently pushing a pink spot on the gum line and watching how long it takes for it to return to pink; if it’s less than two seconds, their hydration level is normal.

You can also do a skin tent, which involves lifting a piece of their skin between their shoulder blades and allowing it to return to normal. If it remains in the tent shape, your pet is dehydrated.

Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Lethargy
  • A decline in the amount of urine produced
  • Loss of appetite
  • Darker-colored urine

These symptoms may indicate a serious problem, so take your dog to the vet for an examination. 

Most dogs will drink how much they have to and stay hydrated appropriately unless something is wrong.