Under most circumstances, your dog will drink sufficiently and will remain well hydrated with no encouragement, but sometimes your dog just isn't thirsty. This may be because the weather is cooler or he's done less exercise. A slight decrease in his water consumption is no cause for alarm. However, consult a vet if your dog persistently refuses to drink. Observe the accompanying behavior and symptoms to help the vet make a swift diagnosis.
Disease and Illness
Certain health issues can cause a dog's thirst to vary. Some diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease, typically cause a dog to have an excessive thirst. But in rare cases, these diseases may also cause his appetite for water to diminish completely. More commonly, a decrease in thirst is due to bladder infection, adrenal gland disease or a urinary tract infection. Make notes of his urination frequency to help the vet figure out the problem.
If a physical action causes your dog pain, he'll simply stop repeating that action. This is why dogs hobble or show reluctance to exercise. If your dog is old or has joint problems, stooping down to reach the water bowl may cause him pain. Try elevating the water bowl, either by placing it on a firm stool or using an elevated feeder, to see if he finds it easier to drink this way. You can check if stooping is painful for him by holding his favorite treat near the ground. If he is still reluctant to stoop, it's most probable that the issue is the act of drinking, rather than his thirst levels.
Dogs learn by association. If they get a fright or experience pain, they typically associate those negative feelings with the objects and circumstances in which they first experienced them. This is why a dog who has been punished with a newspaper would naturally harbor anxieties whenever he sees a newspaper. If your pooch had a bad experience drinking from his water bowl, for example someone accidentally stepped on his paw or he accidentally stepped on a tack, he may have associated those negative stimuli with the action of drinking. This mental process is called operant conditioning. Try using a new water bowl or putting his water bowl in a different place.
Water Bowl Contamination
Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses. To you, the bowl may appear to be sparkling clean, but even a microscopic amount of decaying food, bacteria or dirt could be putting your dog off from drinking. Give the bowl a good clean in boiling water and ensure that you rinse off all detergent before drying.
By Simon Foden
About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.