How to Encourage Your Dog to Drink More Water

I just want him to be his best, most hydrated self

Despite somehow being able to convince myself that the kitchen is too far away to fetch a glass of water, I consider it my purpose in life to keep my dog perfectly hydrated. I periodically refresh his bowl, add in a few ice cubes on warm days and even rub his precious pink belly while he laps up that sweet, invigorating liquid.

There are times, though, when I go full helicopter parent and get to thinking (sometimes panicking) that he needs to drink more water. I just want the best for him, and I know that hydration is important. So, for tips on encouraging my pup to drink more, I reached out to Jessica Pierce, bioethicist and author of numerous books about pets, including Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Possible Life.

For starters, she says my concerns may be unwarranted (no surprises there). “If they have fresh water easily available at all times, dogs will mostly take care of their own hydration needs,” she explains. “But keeping an eye on how much they’re drinking is a good idea, particularly so you can take note if they suddenly seem to drink a lot more or a lot less than normal, which may indicate a health issue and should prompt a visit to the vet.”

Nonetheless, Pierce still has a few tips to help make water more appealing for your dog, if you think that’s necessary. “Make sure to refresh a dog’s bowl at least once a day — several times a day is even better, if you can manage it,” she says. “Clean the bowl once a day, too, with warm water and mild soap (or put it in the dishwasher). Some dogs like cold water and will drink more readily if you put ice cubes in their bowl. Some dogs are fussy about sharing water with other dogs — or, the horror, with a cat — and may appreciate having a water bowl all to themselves.”

Speaking of water bowls, Pierce says, “Doggy ‘fountains’ that keep water flowing can also be a nice treat. I’ve never seen anything written about whether the smell of chlorine might bother dogs, but if you don’t think your dog is drinking enough, you could experiment with using filtered water. If you’re going out for a long walk or hike on a hot day, pack water and a collapsible bowl for your dog.”

Then, once you take care of your dog and their hydration needs, if you — like me — need help keeping yourself hydrated, you could always train your dog to fetch water for you. Teamwork!