Having a sick pup can feel like the worst thing in the world at the time, they can’t communicate to tell you what’s wrong with them, so you can feel almost helpless.
But we all know that when your dog is sick, they need to drink plenty of water, just like we do. But the problem is when dogs are sick, they will usually refuse to drink water which can lead to dehydration and can make them even sicker, and both you and your pup don’t want that.
So how can you make your sick dog drink? The simple answer is to make the water more appetizing by adding flavorings and ice cubes and to give your dog the water at set times during the day, this way they’ll be more inclined to drink the water to keep them hydrated.
Read on to find more ways to get your sick dog to drink up!
Tips On Making Your Dog Drink
It can be really hard to make your dog drink water to keep them hydrated, but I’ve found some simple ways to get your dog to start drinking again.
1. Offer Your Dog A Bowl Of Water
It’s awful when your dog is sick, you know they are unwell but because they can’t communicate with you, it’s difficult to know what’s actually going on.
It becomes a bigger problem when your dog stops drinking due to illnesses like vomiting or diarrhea and because they’re losing much more fluid from their sickness, then not drinking can result in them becoming dehydrated much faster, therefore it’s absolutely vital that they drink regularly.
Offering your dog a bowl of water and ensuring that they can properly access the liquid is key. Unless your dog has a tell, most of the time you won’t be able to tell if they want water, so making sure it’s accessible means they can drink it on their own accord.
When they are feeling ill they may not want to move around as much, so make sure you put out additional water bowls so they can easily access one where ever they are.
Avoid giving your dog any liquid other than water, some may think a bowl of cold soup or milk could be better for them, but potential complications could arise with this.
For example, a sudden change in diet during sickness could make any stomach issues much worse, so it’s best just to stick to plain old water, or flavoured water as it’s the best thing for them.
2. Adding Some Ice Cubes Could Make Your Dog More Interested In Water
Now, if making your dog’s water bowl more easily accessible isn’t resulting in making your dog drink then there’s something else you could try.
Adding ice cubes to the water could make your dog more interested in the water, the ice cubes will eventually melt in the water which will make it much more cool and refreshing.
Alternatively, try offering some ice cubes to your dog without the water bowl, some dogs love to chew and bite things so it’ll feel much more like a treat to them than drinking the plain water.
The ice cubes will help to keep your dog’s mouth much cooler whilst keeping them refreshed.
If your dog isn’t interested in regular ice cubes, try freezing low-sodium meat broth into ice cubes using a 50-50 mix with water. You can either feed it to them directly or place them in their water bowl.
3. Add Moisture To Your Dog’s Meals
If your dog usually has dry food, consider switching to a wet or canned alternative of this food as canned food usually contains around 70%-80% water whilst dry food is usually around 10% water.
If you don’t want to change your dog’s food, consider making a low-sodium meat broth to put into the dry food or you can just simply use water using a 50-50 mix of the dry food with the water. Leave to soak for 20 mins until the kibbles have swollen and then feed to your dog.
4. Make Sure Your Dog’s Water Bowl Has Been Filled With Fresh Cold Water From The Tap
There are lots of benefits to giving your dog cold water over hot or warm water.
It’s refreshing for them to have, especially on a hot day.
It can also help to reduce the risk of bloating and other digestive problems that can arise as a result of drinking too much warm water in a single sitting. Drinking a large volume of water can also induce vomiting.
Its best to give your dog fresh water little and often if they have been vomiting to avoid overloading their tender stomach.
Also, make sure that you’re refreshing your dog’s water bowl two or three times a day with fresh, cold water. When you’re refreshing their water, make sure that you’re cleaning the bowl with soap and water and rinsing it well to get rid of germs and bacteria.
Alternatively, if your dog isn’t drinking any variation of the tap water consider trying to use bottled water instead. A dogs tongue is much more sensitive than ours and some of the chemicals in tap water can be disagreeable to dogs.
5. Slowly Reintroduce Water Into Their Diet
A good way to get them drinking more water is to gradually increase the amount of water they’re consuming.
To start off, give your dog a measured amount of water and see both how fast your dog drinks it and how much of it they drink. Don’t restrict access if your dog wants more water – the point of this exercise is to know exactly how much your dog is drinking per 24 hours.
The next thing to do is to gradually increase the amount they drank from the previous day using the tips here until it matches the amount of water that your dog usually drinks in a day.
It is often easier to get your dog to drink a bit more water daily than to encourage them to drink a normal volume straight away
6. Keep Your Eye Out For Signs That You May Need To Take Your Dog To A Vet
If your dog isn’t drinking water, it can be a cause for concern. However, it doesn’t always mean that they’re sick, sometimes dogs just don’t want to drink. It should become a concern if they’re still not drinking after a day or if you notice that your dog is starting to vomit or have diarrhea.
If they do start to vomit or have diarrhea, it’s not only important that you care for them at home but also to get their stomach checked out at your veterinarian practice, as your vet could give them medication such as an anti-sickness injection which could help them to feel better much faster.
If there is blood in your dogs diarrhea they may also need antibiotics, so get them checked out straight away.
It’s important to know about the warning signs to avoid major problems, like I mentioned vomiting and diarrhea are one of the most common symptoms, but also loss of appetite and weight loss can all mean you should take a trip to your vet ASAP, even if your vet thinks it’s not serious, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
7. Give Your Dog Unlimited Access To Water
Pet fountains are a great way to make water look more appealing to your dog, some versions can even keep the water aerated and stop it from becoming flat which can entice your dog to drink much more water than if it were just in a bowl.
However, if a pet fountain isn’t an option for your dog, you could leave the bathtub faucet dripping which achieves a similar result to the pet fountains, it’s just much more wasteful.
Another idea is to place multiple water bowls around the house, this makes it much more easier for your dog to get a drink if they’re finding it hard to move around or is tiring easily.
8. Bring Water Directly To Your Dog’s Mouth
Your dog may not like you for this, but sometimes there’s no other choice. If your dog is refusing any of the methods listed above, it may be time to utilize a syringe.
If you fill the syringe with water and gently place it into your dog’s mouth and shoot it, your dog will be forced to swallow most of the water.
It’s important to do this gently and carefully as you could end up choking your dog otherwise. If you are not confident its best to leave this to the professionals and call your vet.
9. Moisten Your Dogs Mouth
Try using a clean cloth that has been gently moistened with water and place the cloth directly in the edge of your dog’s mouth or even wipe along the side of your dog’s gums or tongue. This can encourage your dog to start drinking.
If your dog is refusing to drink any water even after trying all these methods and their water consumption is becoming too low, it’s time to visit a professional. Your vet can determine what’s wrong with your dog and prescribe some medicine, or admit them for intravenous fluid therapy to help your dog get better.
Why Does A Sick Dog Need To Drink Water?
Just like us humans, dogs need to drink plenty of water to regain the fluids they’re losing through vomiting or diarrhea. There’s also a few other reasons that mean it’s important for dogs to drink plenty of water when they’re sick, I’ll outline a few below.
Water Replenishes Body Fluids
When your dog is sick, they lose a lot of bodily fluids so it’s absolutely vital that they drink enough water to regain the fluids they’re losing.
It’s also important to keep them hydrated so that they don’t become even sicker, drinking water helps to flush their system and make them feel slightly better.
Water Flushes Toxins Out
Water is a crucial liquid, it’s what our body needs to thrive and it’s the exact same for dogs. It helps to flush toxins out of their system and relieves any discomfort they may be feeling from symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
We’ve all been through it, so we know how painful it can be, it’s worse for dogs as they can’t communicate their pain!
Water Is Crucial For Survival
Dogs can’t survive without drinking water, so if they’re sick they need to stock up on plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Make sure to encourage your dog to take frequent sips of water and if your dog is refusing to eat or drink, make sure that you seek help from your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding sick dogs and drinking water.
How Long Can My Dog Go Without Drinking Water?
We’ve all been through a sickness that makes our appetite go away and makes us not want to drink a single drop of water out of fear we’ll vomit, even though we know it’ll make us feel better.
The same exact thing happens to our dogs, a sick dog will find it incredibly hard to drink anything, let alone properly hydrate itself.
But dogs can actually survive three days without any water, but that’s not to say you should let it get to that point at all, make sure your dog has access to water at all times!
If your dog has not drunk in 24hrs they need to see a vet. If they are drinking, but less for longer than 2-3 days they also need to be seen.
Urination is a good indicator of hydration in dogs. The first morning wee is often quite dark but further wee’s during the day should be a pale straw colour. If your dog is passing dark smelly urine, or worse not urinating at all this means they are dehydrated and need medical attention straight away.
Do Dogs Like To Be Alone When They’re Sick?
Dogs can be independent animals, so you may think it’s best to leave them alone whilst they’re sick. Whilst some dogs may prefer this, many others can feel isolated or depressed being alone whilst they’re unwell, which could worsen their condition.
It’s important to try and understand your dog’s needs, as each dog will differ.
Most dogs won’t appreciate being smothered with cuddles and kisses if they feel nauseous – but even dogs that like to take themselves away and be left alone should be closely monitored.
What Can I Give My Dog For Dehydration?
If your dog’s refusing to drink water, they’re at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated. If your sick dog is showing signs of becoming dehydrated there’s a few things you can do.
Offer them electrolyte-rich foods like fruit juices or cucumber slices dipped in chicken broth, this should boost their water intake and make them feel better. It’s also important for dogs to stay cool, as they don’t sweat like us humans do.
So make sure they’re in a cooler environment, especially if it’s a hot day and keep encouraging them to drink as often as you can no matter what.
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