Does your dog’s water bowl remain untouched at the end of the day? Do you feel as though you never catch her drinking?
Water is an essential nutrient. You know that when you’re working long hours and forget to drink water, you might get a headache, you might have problems with your digestion, and you might even end up with urinary issues.
Dogs, too, need water for all of their bodily processes. They should have access to fresh, clean water at all times, even if they have potty accidents in your home. You’re better off having to find a way to get your dog outside more, finding an indoor potty solution, or cleaning up a few puddles than having your dog develop kidney stones or a urinary tract infection.
So how do you actually get your dog to drink more water?
Flavoring Your Dog’s Water – 10 Ways
- Bone broth. It’s sold in pet stores, and can be made in your pressure cooker, and is also sold for human consumption. It should be free of onions and added salt. It’s expensive, but you can freeze it in an ice-cube tray, and add just a cube to a cup of water for a cheap flavor enhancer.
- Yogurt or kefir. Plain with no added sugar, please. They do contain lactose, but the live enzymes make them easier to digest.
- Raw goat’s milk. You can find this frozen in some specialty pet stores, but it can be tough to find. Powdered goat’s milk is the next best thing.
- Honest Kitchen powdered beverages. They used to have pumpkin spice latte and eggnog mixes, but I think they’re discontinued. They do have other beverage mixes and a canister can last a long time depending on how much you dilute it.
- Smoothies. Dogs love smoothies, and they too can be frozen into cubes for a convenient water enhancer.
- Tea. Tea is full of antioxidants that help fight cancer and other illnesses. Most herbal or green teas are fine, but make sure to check the ingredients and ask your vet if your dog is on medications or has a chronic illness.
- 100% apple juice. Even without sugar added, apple juice contains natural sugars and should be used in moderation. Dilute with equal parts water or more. NO GRAPE JUICE, grapes and raisins cause kidney failure in dogs.
- Baby food purees. Meaty baby foods can be diluted for a tasty beverage.
- Sardine or tuna water. You can drain canned fish packed in water for a tasty water additive. You only need a small amount, and make sure it contains no added salt.
- Dehydrated liver treats. Any dehydrated treat can make a nice broth when soaked in water. Soaking dry treats in warm water can also make them even more aromatic and high value for training.
How Much Water Does My Dog Actually Need?
Dogs need about .5-1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. For 30-pound Cow, that’s 1.8-3.75 cups.
Keep in mind that your dog does not need to drink a measured amount of water each day. They also can get a lot of their moisture from food.
Animals, in general, do not visit streams all that often to drink water. They typically get most of their water in their food. Since wild animals tend to eat plants or meat, which contain up to 90% moisture, they don’t need to drink much water.
So, it’s understandable that dogs who only eat kibble are not adapted to drink enough water to make up for the moisture they’re not getting in their food.
Giving Your Dog Water In Their Food
Kibble was originally designed to be re-hydrated, and all kibbles can be moistened before serving.
You can float your dog’s food in water, allow it to sit a few minutes to make a “gravy” or you can actually soak it into a mush, which can be stored in the fridge for up to 72 hours.
Moistened kibble won’t clean your dog’s teeth, but dry kibble doesn’t do that very well either, so you need to brush their teeth regardless.
I wrote a detailed post about adding water to your dog’s dry food with why it’s beneficial and different ways to do it.
You can also feed your dog a high moisture diet. A raw or home-cooked diet, even if it’s just 50/50 with kibble, helps keep your dog hydrated.
You can buy premade raw or cooked dog food, use Honest Kitchen base mix.
You can also add fresh foods to your dog’s existing diet, just make sure it’s no more than 15-20% of their diet so it does not throw off the nutritional balance in their kibble. Kibble is high in carbohydrates, so you don’t want to be added rice or starchy veggies to it – add meat, fish, or eggs when you can.
Giving Your Dog Fresh, Clean Water
Regardless of what beverages you offer your dog, and what food they eat at mealtimes, they should always have access to fresh, clean water.
Ideally, you’d wash their water bowl and refill it at least once per day. I often forget, but I have 2 water bowls in my one-bedroom apartment, so I think that helps.
Your dog’s water bowl should be big. The bigger the bowl, the more diluted any bacteria will be. Smaller bowls get dirty faster.
At the very least, you want to wash your dog’s water bowls frequently enough that they don’t develop biofilm. Biofilm is a sticky, slimy colony of bacteria that can be hard to remove.
Use stainless steel or stoneware bowls. Plastic bowls develop microscopic scratches over time in which bacteria can hide. Yuck!
Wash with hot, soapy water, or toss into your dishwasher to not just clean, but sanitize your water bowl.
A dental additive helps keep your dog’s clean and it might even help their water stay cleaner too.
More Water Bowls, Please!
Your dog should have at least one water bowl per room they frequent. They shouldn’t have to get off the couch and go all the way to the kitchen just to drink water. Just like us, they can be a little lazy about drinking water!
You might also notice that your dog prefers some bowls over others. If they wear collar tags, they might not like the sound of their tag clanging against a steel bowl.