Understanding dog behaviour

How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: February 7, 2017
How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick

Water is fundamental for all living beings; hydration is essential for processes such as digestion, kidney function and the production of saliva, as well as to maintain the activity of the brain. Dogs drink water on their own, and you must make sure your pet always has a bowl with fresh, clean water at hand. If your dog stops drinking water due to illness, you'll have to take action and help them stay hydrated.

In this oneHOWTO article we'll explain how to make a dog drink water when sick, an essential step to ensure their health and well-being. Read on!

You may also be interested in: How Much Water Should a Dog Drink Per Day

Steps to follow:


Unlike cats, who do not usually drink plenty of water, dogs have no trouble drinking when thirsty. If your dog stops drinking water, it's a sure sign that they are sick. If your dog has some disease or condition and loses the desire to drink, they may become dehydrated and their state of health can become much worse. If you're wondering how much water should your dog drink, as a rule of thumb you should know that they should drink 2.5 times the weight of their food.

If your dog has stopped drinking, you must first of all check whether they are dehydrated. You can know if your dog is dehydrated by pinching their skin. If it does not go back to its normal position, they may be in serious need of water. Another symptom of dehydration are dry gums.

How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick - Step 1

If you notice your dog has stopped drinking, check their water bowl. If it is very dirty or the water is not fresh, clean the bowl and add clean water. Maybe your pet has just stopped drinking because the water does not taste good; make the change and see if the dog starts drinking again. Remember that the best and most practical bowls for dogs are stainless steel ones.


If you have a big house, a good way to make your dog drink water when sick is by placing several water containers at points where your pet often rests. This way you are making it easier for your dog to hydrate more frequently, especially if they have difficulty moving.


There are times when we need our dog to drink more water because of a specific health condition that affects hydration, such as diarrhea, consecutive vomiting or fever. In such cases you can try some tricks to attract the animal's attention and get them to effectively re-hydrate:

  • Add a teaspoon of sugar to your dog's water bowl. The sweet smell will attract them and get them more excited about drinking water.
  • Give your dog ice cubes; this is a good way to facilitate their hydration.
  • If your dog does not respond to these tips, get a cotton ball and soak it in water. Then, squeeze it over their mouth so that they lick the dribbling water. You can also try the same with a large syringe.
How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick - Step 4

Note that if your dog suddenly stops drinking water and seems apathetic, with little desire to play or eat, it is important that you take them to the vet as soon as possible. Various serious diseases like distemper or parvovirus decrease the wishes of the animal to drink water, which could seriously affect their health.

Has your dog ever been ill? What are your tips on how to make a dog drink water when sick? Tell us in the comments section!

How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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What did you think of this article?
My dog had 10 teeth removed, been home two days and won’t drink water. He will take canned dog food which I added some water to it. He does not like pumpkin.
Joanne Hulings
Our dog wouldn't drink water no matter what we tried after we suspected that she might have a broken foot, toes or leg. We called her vet and because it was the weekend we couldn't get ahold of her, any other vets or even the SPCA. Then I remembered an old trick from when my now adult children were sick. Popsicles. It worked.
hello my dog hurt his mouth and wont drink or eat i try to help him drink with a syringe but he growls at me when i try to give him water i know his mouth is sore any help would be great.
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Lana
Have you tried offering your dog wet food? This may be more appealing to your dog. Dehydration in dogs can be very serious, therefore, if this doesn’t work, we do recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cora Verzosa
My dog was sick for 3 days now, he doesn’t like to drink water. Please help
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Cora
If your dog is ill and won’t drink water there are some things you can try. Add electrolytes or add some chicken broth (low salt) to your dog’s water. The smell should be more enticing for you animal. You can also give your dog some rehydration fluid in order to avoid dehydration, which can be very dangerous. If this doesn’t work you can also try to give your dog water through a syringe. In addition, we recommend visiting a veterinarian in order to check your dog’s health status and make sure that it receives enough fluids. OneHOWTO
Ive slways given my dogs puppy milk diluted with warm water they love it especially the older dog
So, this happens on a weekend, we're hundreds of miles away from a Vet and it is now over 24 hours. Last night we set up the kid's menthol steamers and that has started moving the mucus from her chest. Still no desire to drink but she dutifully wees when carried outside and placed on the grass! I used a 1ml syringe with (first) the low salt chicken stock - drop by drop at first - dripped into the side of her mouth. After the first big of carry-on, she grudgingly accepted that method of delivery. Next offer is sugar in water and then some milk kefir - for the probiotic properties. Then repeat the cycle every few hours until she starts moving around under her own steam.
I have stirred a few spoonfuls of pumpkin filling into a cup of water to get the consistency of tomato soup. My dog will drink as much of that as I give him. Since pumpkin is good for diarrhea I think this is a pretty solid approach. Don't give too much at once, though!
OneHowTo Editor
That's fine, just check it's not on the list of foods that are poisonous for dogs: https://animals.onehowto.com/article/what-can-t-dogs-eat-toxic-foods-to-avoid-4556.html
No, my buddy Tracker a miniature Pincher has never been Ill. He's been vomiting bad today and it's pink what does that mean?
OneHowTo Editor
It could be a number of reasons, the safest way of knowing is to take your dog to a vet as soon as possible. Only a vet can give you a proper diagnosis.
In the mean time you need to make sure he's properly hydrated. Give him some chicken broth, as it may be more appetizing for him.
Hope this helps
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How to Make a Dog Drink Water when Sick