How to force a dog to drink water

Updated May 10, 2017

Dogs need clean water available at all times to stay healthy. A dog that refuses to drink water may have a serious health problem. Since lack of water can lead to dehydration, you must make sure your dog is drinking. Forcing a dog to drink is only a short-term solution. To be sure your dog doesn't have a urinary or digestive problem, an injury or other illness, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Fill a clean bowl with fresh water.

Hold your dog in your lap or sit next to him beside the water bowl.

Pour a small amount of water from the bowl into your cupped palm.

Touch the water in your hand to your dog's muzzle. If he refuses to drink, wet the area around his mouth. He will ingest small amounts of the water.

Place the bowl close to the dog's nose if he shows interest in drinking more water.

Fill a clean eyedropper or empty syringe with water.

Hold your dog in your lap. Hold him securely, but pet and speak soothingly to him to keep him calm.

Place the end of the eyedropper or syringe in the corner of your dog's mouth.

Squeeze the dropper or depress the syringe to shoot water into your dog's mouth. Your dog will automatically swallow.


Your dog may not like his bowl--try thoroughly cleaning it with soap or replacing it. Try giving your dog an ice cube. While he may not drink water in liquid form, he might enjoy munching on it frozen. Give your dog bottled or filtered water instead of water from tap. If the water has an unpleasant or chemical-like smell or taste, your dog may refuse to drink it. Mix water with your dog's regular canned or dry food. When he eats the food, he will also ingest some water. Some dogs will drink water with a little milk mixed in. Speak to a veterinarian about this first, since milk may upset your dog's stomach.


Do not let your dog go for a long period of time without drinking water. The Dog Health Handbook warns that dehydration can lead to shock or death if left untreated. Keep your dog calm when using the eyedropper or syringe so that he doesn't snap at or bite you.

Things You'll Need

  • Eyedropper or Syringe
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