When you live with a dog, you’re well aware that they have a mind of their own—and their own quirks. They’ll have their favorite toys and activities, as well as their own preferences for treats. Naturally, why a dog drinks certain types of water will also follow suit. Even with a full water bowl, they might make some questionable choices.
Types of Dog Drinking Water Habits
Staying hydrated is just as important for dogs as it is for us. Unfortunately, even with a great routine and training, our pets might still insist on drinking dirty water. To help them stay healthy, it’s important to understand the key motivators for their drinking water habits.
1. Puddles and Rainwater
Whether you’re on a walk after a quick spring shower or the snow is melting in winter, you’re probably going to be passing by some puddles. Dogs will usually be tempted to drink from puddles because that water smells different. Unlike the city tap water, rainwater doesn’t have chlorine. This can make puddles more interesting and just “tastier” than the water your dog might be drinking at home. But that doesn’t mean it’s clean.
Even shortly after raining, puddle water can get contaminated with lawncare chemicals, car oil and gasoline, or even animal feces and dead insects. You may not see any of this in the puddle itself, but these toxins could have accumulated from water runoff elsewhere. That’s why it’s best to just keep on walking. Help you pet avoid those health risks and stop them from drinking puddle water.
That being said, there’s no reason to shy away from rainwater entirely. Keeping a rain barrel is a great way to practice water conservation. On dry days, you can dip into the barrel for watering the garden. You might also like having that extra (and free!) water for washing your car. Or even to give the dog a bath. Water doesn’t have to be “drinkable” to be useful.
2. Swimming Pool and Lake Water
Maybe your dog is pretty active and loves going for a swim. That’s great! But again, the water safety rules for humans are the same for dogs. Pool water comes with high levels of chlorine, and while that’s great to have as a disinfectant, we definitely don’t want to drink chlorine.
So if you have a pet lapping up pool water, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re dehydrated. Pool water usually has a really strong odor, and they probably only chose to drink from there out of necessity. Guiding them back to their regular water bowl is important because consuming chlorinated water can give them a massive upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. You don’t want them to feel sick. And you don’t want to clean up after them either!
We see similar things happen to dogs after drinking from lakes or ponds. (And definitely if they contract Lepto.) It can be even worse with blue green algae. Some types are highly toxic, but it can take anywhere from one hour to a few hours after exposure for the symptoms to show. In extreme cases, dogs with blue green algae poisoning can suffer from disorientation and breathing difficulties. Avoid those risks by keeping plenty of clean water on-hand for your pets. Even though you’re all enjoying time outside, that recreational water should never be your dog’s drinking water.
3. The Toilet Bowl
Once again, chlorinated tap water is a likely motivator when a dog drinks from the toilet. More specifically, it’s the lack of chlorine. Given the choice, the water source with less chlorine is going to taste better to your dog. This is key because chlorine dissipates over time. They might be going for that water because it’s been sitting out longer than the water in their regular drinking bowl.
Another explanation is that the bathroom is just giving them colder water. Your dog may not be in the mood for room-temperature water. They could be going toward the toilet all because of the porcelain and tile floor. It wouldn’t hurt to toss a few ice cubes into their actual water bowl. But just make sure you’ve got filtered water!
Help Your Dog to Stop Drinking Dirty Water
Swapping out the chlorinated tap water for filtered water is a fantastic way to help everyone in your family (people and pets!) stay safe with clean drinking water. If your dog’s water is fresh and filtered, their water bowl should be relatively odor-free. That alone can make the toilet bowl a lot less appealing. Plus, if your dog drinks filtered water and is staying hydrated, those puddles and pool water may not be an issue anymore either.
Helping your dog to stop drinking dirty water may not be the easiest undertaking, but it’s important for their overall health. Bringing clean drinking water with you can help keep them safe when you’re spending time outdoors. If they start glugging lake water or want to get a drink from the creek, you can just tempt them with a fresh bowl of water instead!