Should I let my puppy drink water whenever? In this Vet Minute, Dr. Marty Greer discusses the importance of puppy hydration.
At What Age Do Puppies Start Drinking Water?
Typically, puppies will start being introduced to water in a shallow flat, heavy bowl at around 3 to 4 weeks of age. By that point, their mother can no longer provide enough fluid with lactation, with nursing. So we need to start puppies on water. I usually start water a couple of days before I start a solid food or a mush for the puppies so that they’re accustomed to learning how to drink.
How Often Should a Puppy Drink Water?
Puppies should be offered water many times a day. It’s easy to say, “Well, gosh, the more often I give water, the more often they’re going to have an accident.” So I understand that. But we all need to be well hydrated, whether we’re puppies or humans. So it’s very important that we offer water every couple of hours in a quantity and a form that is safe for them.
I’m very careful to avoid buckets because puppies can fall into buckets of water. I’m careful that the dish is shallow and that is kept clean, so it should be run through the dishwasher or washed frequently enough that it doesn’t start to grow algae, bacteria or other nasty things like that. If it’s outside and vegetation starts to fall into the water, then you’re going to have problems with the puppy consuming things you don’t really want them to be drinking.
Can Puppies Drink Tap Water & What Can Puppies Drink Besides Water?
Tap water is generally fine. If you drink the tap water, it’s fine for your dog to drink the tap water as well. If you’re concerned about the tap water, then you can certainly look at buying bottled water. There’s two kinds of bottled water. There’s the kind that’s filtered and purified, and then there’s the kind that comes from a spring that doesn’t come purified. It comes from water sources that are believed to be safer. The question is, you don’t really know where the water source is. So your tap water or your well water might be the safest or as safe as anything that you can buy. And it’s going to be a lot less expensive. On rare occasions we’ll want to put a dog on distilled water if they have some health issues. But almost all of the time, tap water, city water, well water, those are absolutely fine for your dog to be drinking.
Should I Add Electrolytes to My Puppy’s Water?
Human electrolyte solutions are probably okay in a pinch, but we really prefer the Breeder’s Edge Puppy Lyte as the electrolyte solution that we use for puppies. It’s chicken flavored. It’s meant to be consumed by a puppy. It’s got the right balance of electrolytes in it, so it’s all very effective. Those are pretty much the only things that I’ll use other than maybe chicken broth, low sodium, chicken broth if I’m in a situation where I actually need to do something.
The other really handy way to offer water to puppies is with Lixit® bottles. Those are products that you can buy online. We have them in our catalog and they’re basically like a giant gerbil bottle where that has the metal tip and the little ball on the end of it. And the nice thing about that is you can leave that out for puppies all the time. They don’t spill it. They don’t lay in it. They don’t walk through it. They don’t turn it into a swimming pool. And I have taught all of my litters of puppies for the last 25 years to drink out of those bottles. They’re handy. You can put a little chicken, baby food or a little peanut butter or something kind of interesting on the tip of the bottle so that they’ll go over and lick it. And very quickly they figure out that that’s a water source. So it’s a really handy way in a crate, a pen, or in an enclosure that you can keep fresh water accessible to your puppies without worrying about them taking a bath in it.
Understanding Pet Water Bottles
Learn how Lixit water bottles work and how to properly use your Lixit water bottle to prevent leaking and dripping.
Cleaning Pet Water Bottles
Is the drinking tube clogged in your pet's Lixit water bottle? Learn how to properly clean Lixit water bottles.
Fluid Therapy: Electrolytes for Puppies & Kittens
Can you give puppies electrolytes? Nursing or weaned puppies and kittens will dehydrate quickly if they are not drinking. Learn how fluid therapy can help to rehydrate a puppy or kitten fast.
My First Litter: Weaning Puppies
When should mom stop feeding puppies? How do I start weaning my puppies? Learn when to start weaning puppies and how to make the transition smooth.
Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.