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Do Dogs Need a Water Fountain? Vet Reviewed Pros & Cons

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

chihuahua drinking in the water fountain

Do Dogs Need a Water Fountain? Vet Reviewed Pros & Cons


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Generally, dogs do not need a water fountain. Most dogs will readily drink from a water bowl, unlike cats, who may ignore a bowl and need a fountain. What’s more, fountains can cost more money, may cause puddles in the vicinity, and the filter may need regular changing if they become blocked with saliva. However, they can hold more water than standard bowls and only offer a portion of the water at a time, which makes them beneficial for owners who are away from the house for long periods.

And because they filter our impurities, they can be useful for dogs that transfer food and other debris into their water bowl.

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How Do Dog Water Fountains Work?

A dog water fountain works in a similar way to any fountain. The fountain contains an electric pump that circulates water, first pushing it through a filter to clear out impurities and then through a fountainhead. Fountains usually have a stream, which the water runs down, or a bubbler, where the water bubbles up and over. In addition to the filter, the movement of the water helps keep it fresh and sanitary, while the movement can attract dogs that are reluctant to drink from a still water bowl.

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Although a dog water fountain isn’t necessary for most dogs, there are some benefits to having one.

Fresh Water

Good dog water fountains have a filter that removes impurities like food debris. If your dog tends to eat and then lap at their water, it can quickly become a mushy mess of dusty water. The fountain circulates water, which keeps it fresher for several hours, while the filter removes a lot of debris, dust, and impurities.

dog drinking water in white pet water fountain
Image By:, Shutterstock

Greater Convenience

A water fountain will usually hold more water, with most of it circulating through the pump system. Because the fountain holds more water than a standard water bowl, one can be very beneficial for owners who are away at work or have to leave their dogs for several hours at a time. For owners with multiple dogs, it is possible to get fountains with pools or streams on multiple levels so two dogs can drink at the same time.

Cool Water

The movement of the water helps keep the water temperature down. While most dogs don’t mind drinking warm or tepid water, some prefer it cool, especially during the warmer summer months. Even if the water is down for a few hours, the fountain will keep it cooler.

Coonhound Puppy Playing With Water Fountain
Image By: SillyDogPhotos, Shutterstock

Can Encourage Difficult Dogs

Although most dogs can easily be encouraged to drink from a standard water bowl, some may be reluctant. Some may be reluctant to drink water with dirt and debris in it, and some may need to see the water move before they will drink it. In these cases, a dog water fountain is a viable solution that will encourage your canine.

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Although there are benefits to owning and using a dog water fountain, there are also some drawbacks to bear in mind.

Filter Needs Regular Cleaning

To continue offering fresh water free from dirt and debris, a water fountain relies on a filter. As dirt gathers in the filter, it will need unblocking and clearing. Most filters are easy to remove and wash, but it is a step that isn’t required when using a standard dog bowl.

Image Credit: GS23, Shutterstock

Can Become Blocked

Failing to regularly clean the filter leads to it becoming clogged and blocked, which may prevent the water from circulating properly. What water gets passed through the filter is likely to become dirty. It is also possible that the fountainhead and other components of the system can become clogged, although regular maintenance and cleaning will help prevent this.

More Expensive

Dog water fountains are more expensive than standard bowls because they cost more to manufacture. You will also need to buy replacement batteries, and the water filters won’t last forever, so these, too, will need regular replacements. Although the costs are fairly minimal, they do mean that a fountain ends up costing more than a stainless-steel water bowl.

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Do Pet Water Fountains Keep Water Cold?

Water fountains don’t necessarily cool water, but they do circulate the water, which can prevent it from getting warm, especially during the summer months or in a hot room. The effect will be especially pronounced after several hours when stagnant water has had a chance to warm up even more.

How Often Should You Change the Water in a Pet Fountain?

If the manufacturer recommends a water changing and cleaning schedule, you should follow this. Otherwise, expect to completely change the water at least every week. You will also need to clean the filter at the same time. Otherwise, it should be fine to top up the existing water in between changes. However, if your dog tends to drop bits of food in the water or other debris regularly gets in the water supply, you may need to change the water and filters more often. Generally, if the water looks dirty and isn’t clearing up after passing through the filter, it definitely needs changing.

How Do You Keep Pet Fountain Water From Getting Slimy?

Pet fountain slime isn’t uncommon. It can be a result of several factors, including food and debris or the saliva from your dog. The first step is to ensure that you’re replacing the water and cleaning the filter regularly. Remove any potential sources of dirt and debris to get rid of bacteria that might be causing the problem.

You will also need to ensure that the fountain is cleaned inside and out. If there are any corners that are not cleaned, bacteria can hide in there and may be the cause of the problem.



Most dogs do not need a water fountain and will be perfectly happy and healthy with a standard water bowl that is regularly cleaned and refilled. However, some dogs and some owners may benefit from a fountain.

In particular, if you go out to work all day, a fountain means that your dog can enjoy fresh water the whole time you’re out. And, if yours is a dog that drops bits of food in its bowl, a fountain can remove the debris via the water filter and continue to provide a fresh supply.

However, fountains are more expensive to buy than standard bowls and you will need o buy a fresh supply of new filters and batteries for the pump. And the filter needs regular cleaning to prevent bacteria and dirt from building up in the bowl.

Featured Image Credit:, Shutterstock

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