Sunday, August 8, 2010

Encouraging Your Dog to Drink More

I recently received a question from a reader about parched puppies. In the summer, with these terrible heatwaves, it's easy for dogs to get dehydrated, and it is important to keep fluids in them as much as possible. I am not a veterinarian, and this is not medical advise, but I did experience problems with Milly and drinking water, and this post is about things that I found helped.

If your dog does not drink much water, and you are concerned, the first thing you want to do is go to the vet to clear any potential health problems. If your vet deems your dog healthy, you might want to try some of these tips.

With Milly, I found that she was reluctant to drink water if I was not with her, and even when I was with her, she would only drink if I held the water bowl for her. I was concerned that she wasn't drinking enough, and began adding water to her food at each meal. She happily lapped up the water, and it had the added bonus of slowing down her eating, which is always a good thing. By adding water to her food, I was able to ensure she drank a certain amount each day.

However, I still had concerns that she did not drink regularly. I began adding some low sodium chicken broth to her water dish at non-meal times. I did a 2 to 1 ratio, two parts water, one part broth, but you can adjust this based on your particular dog. If your dog is not enticed to drink at all, you might try doing straight chicken broth. To make sure it is super healthy, you can even boil some chicken in water until the chicken is cooked, shred the chicken and serve this homemade "soup" cold, but not ice cold.

After a lot of thinking I started noticing a trend. I always kept Milly's food and water bowls up against a wall, and she would happily eat this way, but would never drink this way. Sometimes, after walks, if I presented Milly with a fresh bowl of water in the center of the room she'd happily drink it. With this in mind, I moved her bowls so they are no longer up against a wall, and would you know, she started drinking on her own!

I have noticed that when Milly is outside by herself she is much less likely to drink than when she is inside. I have played around with a lot of different bowls, and found that she prefers ceramic or metal bowls, and they must be in the shade. I also started giving her frozen Kongs that contained water. I simply plug the small hole with peanut butter or a mushed up "pill pocket" or other chewy treat, then I either fill it with low sodium chicken broth, or a combo of water and yogurt or water and canned pumpkin (just make sure it isn't pumpkin pie mix, because that has a lot of sugar in it), pour it in the Kong. To prevent spills, I place the Kong in a drinking glass in the freezer so it can stand upright. This is a great treat that also helps with hydration.

I've also discovered that Milly absolutely adores water melon. Last weekend, I was frying some bacon (for me), and made myself a bowl of seedless water melon. Milly smelled the bacon and walked up to me with those big ole' brown eyes. I don't allow Milly to have bacon, because it is too fattening, and instead gave her a piece of seedless watermelon. She went bonkers! This is now her favorite treat, and the only food that she begs for. A small amount of seedless watermelon is a nice snack that is primarily made of water, so it aids in hydration.

I hope this post helped people who have been worried about their pup not drinking enough water in this hot weather. Please remember, with these extreme temperatures it is very important to keep an eye on your dogs, and not have them outside for long periods of time where they may get overheated.


  1. Great advice!! We love the picture! Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

  2. Super helpful, thank you MMP : ).

    M will try these with Lily this weekend! I will try more with her when I get back into town!

  3. excellent advise! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Water is so important because the body of a dog consists of over 70% water, just as the body of a human. Basically, substances need to dissolve and to be transported throughout the body of a dog. See more

  5. My 16 yr old chihuahua, Chico, got dehydrated while we waited in my car, in a shady spot, while my realtor showed my condo. I have three other small dogs and they are fine, but this was too much for Chico. Even though I had water in a dog gulpy, the heat was too much for him as he kept panting even after we got home. The next day, I took him to the vet for his required blood test, but they found he had blood pressure of zero. They game him IV fluid, instead. I took off his collar and game him his favorite water bowl. He's doing better. He really likes mango. I will never do that again.