Why Won’t My Dog Drink Water Out of His Bowl?

By Erin Shaffer / August 8, 2021

Every living mammal needs a source of water to live.  Without water, there is no life (we are made up of 60% water).  If your pooch is not getting the correct amount of water that it needs to stay healthy, then that is a very serious problem.

Usually, dogs know when to drink on their own, which is when they feel thirsty.  Therefore, all you need to do as a pet owner is set out a bowl of water.  Hooray!  Easy enough right?

dog outside drinking waterUnfortunately, when you notice that your pup hasn’t had any water in a long time… there could be a possible issue.

Depending on your pet, there could be a number of possible reasons why it is not wanting to drink any water from its bowl.  Whether your canine is older, injured, dehydrated, or offered dirty water, you have the opportunity to spot the problem and make it right so that your puppy will be happy and healthy once again.

…And we’re here to help!  Continue reading for your questions to be answered!

Why Water is Important for Your Dog

dog drinking water from bottleThis one should be a given.  Our lives surround the beautiful creation of water.  We drink it, eat it, swim in it, bathe in it, and we are it!  Water is essential to all living beings, and dogs are no exception.

With the amazing amounts of energy that animals have, it is no surprise that they need to be fueled up by some nice, clean water.  Water should be available to them at any point in time.  It is a key factor to a healthy and thriving pet.

When your pup if feeling dehydrated at any time, they are going to make sure you know.  They will bark, whine, or paw at their water bowl if it is empty to get your attention to give them a drink.

Considering the importance of water for your beloved canine, be sure to always have some for them wherever and whenever.

How Come My Dog Won’t Drink Water out of his/her Bowl?

large dog drinking Noticing that your pet isn’t drinking any water out of his or her dish is a startling discovery.  However, it’s a good thing you noticed because you will be able to do something to fix the problem.

Sometimes your pet can suddenly stop drinking from their dish if something dramatically changes in or around with dish.  Some animals who have a metal water bowl notice their reflection in the water and in the metal bottom of the dish.

When this happens, pups can get scared or not want to put their face or mouth close to the water.

Pooches also may be getting dehydrated from not drinking their water because perhaps a different pet in the household drank out of it before them.  In this case, they just act like they don’t want ‘cooties.’  Therefore, wash the bowl and make sure it is designated to them.

food and water bowlsThe danger of your canine not having enough h2o in his or her system is crucial to a well-functioning brain and body.  If you figure out why your pooch is behaving in such a way, do everything you can to change the variables that refrain your dog from being able to drink their water out of the bowl.

Even if you have to take the time out of your day to comfort your puppy if it is scared or uncomfortable by its bowl, believe me, it’s well worth it.

If your pet choosing to drink water out of the toilet instead of its bowl, try to train it to do otherwise.  You can do this by first putting the water bowl on top of the toilet, and then moving it further and further away until he or she has the routine as it’s go-to.

Other Reasons:

  • Aging

senior dogAs your animal grows older, it can get more difficult for them to find the energy to get up and walk to where the water bowl is located in the house.  Staying hydrated is more of a challenge for older pets because they have to collect a lot of energy to make even the smallest journey.

Another thing to keep in mind is that since your older canine isn’t using as much energy throughout the day, they are not going to need as much water.  This is because they aren’t going to be as thirsty when they don’t run around and play like younger pups.

  • Tainted Water

dog laying on grassJust like humans don’t want to drink stinky or dirty water, animals get those same feelings as well.  If they realize that their water bowl has any sort of abnormality in it (even sometimes if another pet in the household drinks from it) there is a chance they will refuse to drink the water.

I this case,  clean out the water and the bowl thoroughly to be sure it is safe and clean for your dog.  Clean drinking water is essential for their health, so remember to be sure it is always available to them, especially when you are away for the day.

  • Dehydration

sick labradorIronically, your pet may even not be drinking water because of dehydration.  Sometimes if your pet is severely dehydrated, it will be less interested in water.  When this happens, even if you hold water up to your canines head, it still may not want to drink.  Some signs of dehydration in your pet include:

  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Dry skin
  • Red or dry gums
  • Sticky gums
  • Loss of coordination

If your pet has any of these systems, it is possible that your animal may have pancreatitis which is one effect of obesity or diabetes.  If you are unsure of your pup’s condition, ask your vet for help and some pointers on how to help your pet out of this situation.

  • Illness or Injury

dog pawsUnfortunately, a lot of different illnesses can make your pet draw further away from water than what is considered healthy.  The two most likely infections are:

  • UTI’s
    • Frequent urination
    • Urination indoors
    • Bleeding during urination
    • Pain while urinating
  • Oral infections/injuries
    • Sore mouth
    • Dry/red gums
    • Foam in salivation
    • Sensitive teeth

One of the easiest ways to tell if your animal has one of these problems is if they are suddenly using their mouth sensitivity or if they lick their genitals more than usual.  Keep an eye on your pooch’s behavior while eating or urinating to see if they are having any of these symptoms.  If your dog is able to eat but refusing to drink, give them food with a higher level of liquid or add water to their food.

How to Get My Dog to Drink Water Out of Their Bowl

small dog drinking waterIf you have a young puppy who is just now learning how to eat and drink like a grown dog, after weeks of drinking mama’s milk, there is a smooth transition solution.  When first feeding the puppy solids foods, liquidate the meal into soup.  This will start off as a meal that is just a little thicker than the milk they are used to.

As days and weeks go by, slowly add less and less water into the food bowl so that their meal will gradually get harder and thicker.  (Still provide them with a source of water even though they are getting a lot of water from their soupy meal).

The idea of this process is to get the puppies used to the concept of drinking and eating out of a bowl rather than from their mother.

Another idea that is also cute to water your puppy do is to add small ice cubes to the water bowl.  Puppies will try to lick or scoop up the ice to get it out of their bowl which tricks them into scooping water into their mouths during the process.  This helps them to drink water out of the bowl without them even knowing it.

chihuahua drinking water outsideTwo other liquids that you can add to the water is milk and chicken broth.  When these are added (in minimal amounts) the water will be flavored with liquids that your puppy will enjoy.  This will also help them to drink more water because it tastes better than plain water.

Only use these techniques until your pet is able to drink water without hesitation, try not to use as a permanent solution.  If used their whole lives, they may continue to refuse regular drinking water even when they are adults.

Related Post: Best dog water bowl


Can they drink milk instead?

milk cartonAt a certain age, once dogs are out of the puppy stage, they stop metabolizing lactose because of the loss of an enzyme they don’t produce anymore.  Since this is the case, you should not feed your pet any milk after they are out of the puppy stage.

Some dogs, however, do have that enzyme and therefore can drink milk even as an adult.  This is very rare so you can test putting a little milk in their water at your own discretion.  If your pet is intolerant to the milk, some symptoms they might show would be:

  • Stomach aches/cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Uneasiness

How long can they go without water?

dog and cat drinkingThis is a common question asked by many pet owners.  To answer your question, a canine can last about three days without drinking water.  Of course you don’t want it to get to that point because your pet would be very dehydrated.

If you are on vacation or even just at work while your pup is at home alone, always remember to leave a fresh, clean bowl or bucket of water out in an accessible place for your pup.

Visit this guide for more information on how long your pet can go without drinking water.

Final Thoughts

puppy sitting insideHaving a dehydrated pet and not knowing how to fix that problem is a difficult situation to be in.  We hope that our information helped you single out reasons why your pet has trouble drinking water.

Hopefully you can consider our ideas to try out new ways of getting your pup to drink from its bowl.

Keep in mind that the more you care for your pooch, the more they will be able to return the love you give them.  When they are healthy, they appreciate the time you put into helping them maintain their health.

Remember to pay close attention to any symptoms your pet may be showing just in case there is a problem they aren’t able to verbally tell you.


  1. Why is my dog refusing to drink – wagwalking.com

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About the author

    Erin Shaffer

    Growing up without dogs was one of the most regrettable circumstances in my life. When I got my very first puppy my whole world turned upside down. She bettered my life, so every day I do my best to better hers. Dogs are truly little angels and deserve nothing but the best. Our dogs dedicate themselves to us, so lets give back and be the best pet owners we can be in every way possible.

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