Healthy dogs tend to manage their own water intake well, although older puppies and dogs don't do so well. Unless there are signs of serious health problems, your pet will likely drink enough water after small changes in diet and where the bowl is.
Part 1 of 3: Dealing with a Serious Dehydration Problem
Step 1. Look for signs of dehydration
Most healthy dogs can manage their water intake well. Check for the following signs of health problems or dehydration before getting too worried:
- Give the dog a quick, light pinch on the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades. If the skin doesn't immediately return to its original position, it may be dehydrated.
- Gently press your finger against the dog's gums until the area is lighter in color; then release it. If the gum doesn't immediately return to its original color, it may be dehydrated.
- Other possible signs of dehydration include listless behavior, loss of appetite, or a change in the amount or color of the animal's urine. If detected in isolation, these issues should not cause an urgent concern unless they are severe or last longer than a day.
Step 2. Know the risk factors
Different life stages and medical problems can increase the frequency and severity of dehydration. Be more aware if any of the following factors apply to your dog:
- Heat doesn't just dehydrate people: it affects pets too. Provide more water than usual for your dog if the heat is too high.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive wheezing or salivation can cause dehydration if the dog doesn't drink more water to make up for the loss of water.
- Likewise, kidney disease and other chronic problems cause dehydration.
- If the animal is diabetic, very young or old, or female -- and she is pregnant or nursing -- take her to a veterinarian at the first suspicion of dehydration.
Step 3. See a veterinarian
If your puppy shows any of the above symptoms and refuses to drink water, see a professional as soon as possible. He can give the animal a saline solution or a subcutaneous injection of fluids to restore missing products in the animal's body.
A veterinarian may also test for medical conditions that may be causing dehydration, such as kidney stones. After diagnosis, he may prescribe medications or a special diet
Step 4. Give the puppy rehydration fluid
If the animal shows signs of dehydration and you cannot immediately take it to a veterinarian, dilute Pedialyte in water (with both ingredients in equal proportions) and give the dog about 240 ml of the mixture once an hour. This product is sold in drugstores.
- Do not mix this ingredient with other products, or you could worsen the damage to the dog's body.
- Although there are other rehydration fluids, it is recommended that you always consult a veterinarian before using them.
- If you live in the United States, you can use the Pedialyte website to find the nearest store that sells it.
Step 5. Add flavor and electrolytes to the water
If you can't find Pedialyte, add a low-sodium chicken stock or water-diluted orange juice. This can restore electrolytes lost due to dehydration, and can make the water more attractive to the sick dog.
Step 6. If necessary, use a syringe
If your sick puppy completely refuses to drink water, fill a plastic, needleless syringe with the liquid and squirt it into the puppy's mouth. Spray it toward the cheeks, not directly into the throat, to keep the animal from choking.
Part 2 of 3: Daily tactics
Step 1. Exercise the dog
Dogs need daily exercise such as brisk walks or play in parks or backyards. If your pet doesn't get enough exercise, he may not lose fluid through panting -- and so he won't be as thirsty as a healthy, active dog.
For long walks, bring water and give a little to the dog every ten minutes. This can help you get into the habit of drinking the fluid regularly at home
Step 2. Give the dog moist food
Foods like this contain high water content, often marked on the label as "% moisture content". Replace some or all of your pet's dry foods with wet options by reading labels or following a veterinarian's recommendations to determine how much your pet needs.
Another option is to soak dry food in a bowl of water for 30 to 60 minutes before giving it to the dog
Step 3. Feed the dog only at the correct times
Feed the feed once or twice a day, following a veterinarian's recommendations or product label. If you constantly offer food, your dog may confuse thirst with hunger.
Step 4. Whenever necessary, release the dog so he can urinate
If he's needed indoors for eight hours straight, he can avoid water, as he'll have added that drinking it makes his bladder full and uncomfortable. Release him whenever he whimpers near a door, or train him to use a litter box that stays inside the house.
Part 3 of 3: Positioning the Water Bowl
Step 1. Give the dog constant access to water
In homes with more than one floor, place a bowl of water on each floor the dog has access to. If he spends part of the day away from home or stuck in a room, place additional containers in those places.
- Always try to place these "water stations" in the same location so the dog knows where to look for them.
- A dog trapped outside the home can get tangled up in your chain or rope and thus be unable to access the water bowl. If securing it is essential, keep the area clear of obstacles and place the bowl close to where the animal is trapped.
Step 2. Change the water frequently
Empty the water bowl daily and rinse all residues before refilling it; then wipe the sides of the container with a paper towel. Change the water again whenever you notice hairs or debris floating in it, or whenever it gets low. During times of hot weather, you may need to check the bowl once every two hours.
Step 3. Consider purchasing a pet drinker
These small drinking fountains can be more attractive for dogs that prefer to drink running water or for puppies that are not used to using bowls. They are also more easily found by dogs with eyesight problems.
Step 4. On hot days, add ice cubes to the water
Many dogs prefer to drink ice water. Throw some ice cubes into the bowl while the animal watches; that way, he can approach to investigate the container.
Step 5. Make the water more interesting
If you don't want to buy a drinking fountain, try shaking the water bowl or shaking a toy over it. Throwing blueberries (or other berries) or other small treats into the water may also convince the dog to take it while he fishes them.
If the dog is still not interested, try again after replacing the water bowl with a regular container or cup (different shape or color)
Don't leave the dog's bowl in the sun. Most mothers prefer drinking ice water to warm water
- If your puppy finally starts drinking after your efforts, let him do it alone instead of praising him. Paying too much attention to it can distract you from the bowl itself.
- Don't let the dog drink water from the toilet; it can be a source of harmful bacteria.