How to make a dog drink water? My dog has been refusing to drink!

Whether he's recovering from surgery or just not feeling well, you need to know how to make a dog drink water when he doesn't want to.

It sounds simple, but as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse (or dog, in this case) to water, but you can't make him drink.

Typically, it's a health issue that will cause a dog to refrain from drinking water.

But according to PetMD, some dogs may have preferences on how your woofer likes his water placed.

This is a major problem because not drinking quickly leads to dehydrated dog gums.

If you already know the reason for the aversion to drinking water, you just need to find ways to entice your dog to drink water.

In this article, you'll learn the common reasons your dog may be refusing to drink water and what you should do.

Let's get started!

Some Common Reasons Your Dog May Not Be Drinking Water

As mentioned, you should always talk to your dog’s vet if you notice he isn’t drinking enough water (or is drinking more than normal).

You should also be aware of some of the potential reasons for this change in his drinking habits.

The following are among the most common causes:

  • Unfamiliar surroundings
  • Aging
  • Illness or disease
  • Negative experiences or fear
  • Inactivity and overall lack of exercise

How to Make a Dog Drink Water

how to make a dog drink water

1. Check for Dehydration

If you notice that your dog isn't drinking as much water as he normally does, you need to check your dog for dehydration immediately.

There are a couple of ways to do that.

(A) Skin pinching. As I demonstrate in my video above, the first thing to do is pinch the skin on the back of your dog's neck, then let it go.

If the skin doesn't return to normal immediately, this could be a sign that the dog is dehydrated.

Pinch dog skin for dehydration

(B) Check gums. You can also check your dog's gums to see if your pet is dehydrated.

I also demonstrate this procedure in my video above.

To do this, gently press your finger on the dog's gums until the pink color fades.

If the gum doesn't pick up immediately, it could be a sign that your dog is dehydrated.

Check dog's gums for dehydrationOn top of these two checks, there are also other signs of dehydration in dogs:

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • decrease in urine output
  • darker color urine
  • urine with a noticeably strong odor

If your dog is showing signs of dehydration, seek veterinary care immediately.

Do NOT wait.

If your dog is dehydrated, waiting just a few hours could be the difference between a quick treatment with IV fluids and a much more serious health problem, and sometimes even death.

Make a Dog Drink

2. The Best Fix on How to Make a Dog Drink Water

There's a popular drink for humans suffering from dehydration called Pedialyte.

Did you know that this drink can also help prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated?

Pedialyte is specifically formulated to help replenish fluids and electrolytes more effectively than other drinks, and it's completely safe for dogs.

When learning how to make a dog drink water to prevent dehydration, Pedialyte liquid is the best and most effective tool to have in your arsenal.

How: Simply mix a combination of 50/50 Pedialyte and water.

Give your dog 1 cup of this liquid mixture every 30-60 minutes. Just pour it into your pet's bowl.

However, some dogs will refuse to drink this.

So if your dog doesn't drink the Pedialyte mixture, you can administer it in small doses via syringe.

You may need to force your dog somewhat to drink it, which is uncomfortable but won't be painful for the dog.

Make a Dog Drink

3. Other Ways to Make Dogs Drink More Water

Ensuring that your dog is drinking enough water could be an everyday battle with some pets.

Healthy dogs should be drinking about an ounce of water for every pound of the dog's body weight every day.

If you're not worried about dehydration in your dog but just want to increase the dog's water intake after surgery or an illness, there are a number of other ways to do so.

Below are some proven options that always work in our household.


You can add low-sodium chicken broth, beef broth, or other bone broth to your pet's water bowl.

A couple of tablespoons of broth should be enough to entice most dogs to drink because it smells good to them and tastes better than water.


As mentioned above, as one of the last resorts, you could also use a syringe to squirt water in your dog's mouth. Your dog will typically just swallow it.

Wet food

Switching to wet canned dog food instead of dry kibble is another good way to add additional liquid to your pup's diet because this food is higher in moisture content.

Water fountains

Switch the dog's water bowl to a dog drinking fountain.

These fountains aerate the water to keep it fresh. Your dog may not want to drink older, stagnant, warm water, and these fountains prevent it.

Also, the fact that water moves instead of being still entices some dogs to drink it.

Ice cubes

If you're using a traditional dog bowl, ensure the water is always fresh, clean, and cold.

Add ice cubes to his water to keep it cooler, which often works.

Try a different water bowl

There’s a chance that your dog may not like the water bowl you gave him.

For example, some dogs are afraid of the noise of metal water bowls. In this case, try a glass one. 

Clean the bowl

Double-check that your dog’s water bowl is clean.

He may not want to drink if the water is dirty. Luckily, this problem has a simple solution – just clean the bowl. 

As an extension, make sure to swap out the old water for clean water at least once a day. 

Move the water bowl

Sometimes you can encourage your dog to drink water by moving where the water bowl is.

Even a slight change can be enough. 

Add more water bowls

You can also try adding more water bowls to your house.

This will give your dog even more opportunities to drink. 


If you don’t think your dog is getting enough water, try praising him or giving him a treat as a reward every time he drinks some water.

This can reinforce good habits. 

Know That Overhydration Can Also Be a Problem

While dehydration is a problem in dogs, you don’t want to overcorrect and end up with an overhydrated dog.

This is also known as “water intoxication,” and it can be dangerous. 

Some of the symptoms of overhydration include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Staggering
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloating
  • Excessive salivation

In the case of puppies, overhydration may be a sign of an underlying problem.

Some examples include kidney issues, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or uterine infection. 

How to Make a Dog Drink Water: FAQs

If you have other questions about how to make a dog drink water, the following information should help. 

Can I give my dog milk instead of water?

If your dog doesn’t want to drink water, you may be tempted to offer him milk instead.

However, most dogs are lactose-intolerant after they leave puppyhood.

After they are done breastfeeding, they typically lose the enzyme that helps decompose lactose.

If you give your lactose-intolerant dog milk, he can have stomach aches, diarrhea, and flatulence and may feel generally unwell. 

What do I do if my dog won’t drink water?

If your dog doesn’t drink water, try adding more water bowls, switching to wet food, adding broth or another flavoring to the water, trying a different bowl, or contacting your vet. 

How do I force my dog to drink water?

If your dog still doesn’t drink water even with the above advice, you should talk to your vet.

He may suggest using a syringe to force your dog to drink.

In most cases, the above remedies will be enough to encourage him to drink. 

Why is my dog not drinking water?

There are several reasons your dog may not be drinking water.

Being sick is one of the main causes.

That is why it is important to watch your dog’s water consumption and contact your vet if necessary. 

How can I hydrate my dog?

You can hydrate your dog with Pedialyte, thanks to its electrolytes.

You can also encourage them to drink more water by adding water bowls or giving them broth.

Or see if they want to eat some ice cubes. 

Can you give dogs Gatorade?

Yes, your dog can have Gatorade, but you should not give him too much.

If you think he needs more than just a few sips, Pedialyte is a better choice.

How to Make a Dog Drink Water: Before You Go

Staying hydrated is very important to our dogs.

Therefore, this makes the aforementioned tips essential for keeping your woofer hydrated.

It's best to call your vet and explain the situation if it doesn't improve in the next 24 hours.

They'll be able to offer further guidance.

Your canine friend may not be drinking water due to underlying medical concerns.

You don't want it to get to the point where your dog is very dehydrated and in need of fluids.


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Tips on How to Make a Dog Drink Water

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.