A dog drinking tap water.
A dog drinking tap water. Photography ©Voyagerix | Thinkstock.

Water for Dogs: The Type of Water Your Dog Drinks Matters

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My dog, Chase, hates the water. He won’t  get within 3 feet of our pool, and baths are too traumatic to even discuss. But one thing Chase loves is fresh, pure drinking water. And, frankly, that’s the only kind I care about because his survival depends upon staying adequately hydrated. Dogs require more water per day than any other nutrient. It’s no wonder, since 70 to 80 percent of an adult dog’s lean body mass is comprised of water. Let’s talk water for dogs — which type of water is safe for your dog? Which type of water is best?

Water for dogs — do you know which type of H2O is best?
Water for dogs — do you know which type of H2O is best? Photography by Harrison Waters.

Is unfiltered tap water safe for dogs?

Inexpensive, potable tap water is one of our nation’s privileges but, unfortunately, unfiltered tap water can be riddled with contaminants. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., has found 316 toxins lurking in tap water supplies throughout the country which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can lead to a variety of adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems and neurological disorders. Contaminants in tap water may include industrial chemicals, pesticides, metals, pharmaceuticals, bacteria, viruses, protozoan, parasites, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radiological contaminants such as plutonium and uranium and even sewer overflows and wastewater. Need I say more?

Bottom line: I do not recommend giving unfiltered tap water to your dog.

Should dogs drink bottled water?

In 2016, Americans drank 12.8 billion gallons of bottled water. But at nearly 2,000 times the cost of tap water, is bottled water really a purer alternative? Not necessarily. In a 2008 study, the EWG discovered combinations of 38 different pollutants in 10 popular brands of U.S. bottled water. In some brands, the pollutants, which included bacteria, pharmaceuticals, arsenic, fertilizer residue, radioactive isotopes and industrial chemicals, equaled the same level as the country’s most polluted tap water systems. The majority of bottled waters also contain endocrine disruptor chemicals, man-made compounds that interfere with hormone signaling. And plastic water bottles may contain bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that can seep into the water and is associated with a variety of health risks. Since most states don’t require bottled water companies to disclose the presence of contaminants or the origin of the water, you really don’t know what’s in that bottle. And then there are the environmental effects. Americans use 3 million plastic water bottles every hour, and less than 30 percent of them are recycled.

Bottom line: You, your dog and the planet can do better than bottled water.

What about distilled water?

Distilled water is created by boiling regular water to a point where all contaminants are destroyed. The resulting steam is then condensed back into a liquid and bottled. The problem is that distillation also destroys all of the water’s beneficial minerals, which are essential for health. Studies in animals show that consuming distilled water results in a variety of adverse health effects, including a negative balance of sodium and chloride in the blood, lower volumes of red blood cells, increased secretion of cortisol and adverse changes to the kidneys, including atrophy of the glomeruli. Moreover, these changes were not affected even when nutritionally adequate diets were fed. In addition, distilled water is reported to be less thirst quenching, which may lead dogs to drink and urinate excessively.

Bottom line: Intermittent or short-term intake of distilled water may not be harmful; however, it should not be used as a dog’s primary source of hydration.

Is filtered water for dogs best?

As the name implies, filtered water is tap water that has been run through a filter to remove impurities. The most common types of filters include carafe filters, faucet-mounted filters, countertop filters, under-sink filters, reverse-osmosis filters and whole-house filtration systems. Since different filtration options remove different contaminants, the first step is to determine what’s in your tap water. I recommend beginning with an online trip to the EWG’s National Drinking Water Database. Just enter your zip code, select your utility, and get instant access to your water quality report provided by your state’s water officials. You can also call your water utility company for a copy of its Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), an annual report detailing all contaminants present in your local water supply. Once you know what you’re dealing with, the next step is to research the best filtration method to address your specific needs. The EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide will walk you through this process based on your filtration goals, lifestyle and budget. Before you know it, you’ll have an inexpensive, abundant supply of fresh, pure water.

Bottom line: A good water filter can turn ordinary tap water into a healthy and cost-effective source of pure hydration for your dog and the entire family.

Water and dog hydration:

Water is essential to just about every bodily function, including:

  • Helps regulate body temperature
  • Keeps the skin elastic
  • Lubricates the joints
  • Keeps the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs moist
  • Cushions the nervous system and organs
  • Flushes out waste products from the body
  • Helps digest protein, fat and carbohydrates through hydrolysis
  • Dissolves and transports nutrients to the cells

Thumbnail: Photography ©Voyagerix | Thinkstock.

Read more about dogs and water on Dogster.com:

Diana Laverdure- Dunetz, MS, is a canine nutritionist and co-author, with W. Jean Dodds, D.V.M., of two books, including Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health. Their online course, Complete Canine Nutrition, can be found at myhealthydog.dog.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you

20 thoughts on “Water for Dogs: The Type of Water Your Dog Drinks Matters”

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  5. Can you please show the studies about dogs drinking distilled water? Distilled water is pure water. The best water for health and drinking. Filtered and tap water is full of Inorganic minerals are not needed in the body, human or animal. Those, as you call ‘ beneficial minerals’ are not found in most drinking water today. Most filtered water still has a good share of these inorganic minerals which are just stored in joints or creating kidney stored as kidney stones. Humans nor pets need those minerals that are not utilized by the body. Better to drink distilled water that minerals are added back into that can be used by the body.

    1. The World Health Organisation (WHO) specifically warns against demineralised water for humans in particular. Read the report based on research and opinions by 100s of water and nutrition experts on http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutrientschap12.pdf

      However, if you provide a mixed nutritional diet then humans and dogs will get all the minerals they need from food. The problem is that most diets don’t include enough veggies and fruits.

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  9. I raised my puppy, now a 3 year old ShittyPoo, (Shitzu-Poodle) on advance filtration, ozone, reverse osmosis filtered bottled water with flavor enhancing minerals added calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate. He has become so accustomed to drinking this water exclusively that when offered tap water or encountering it he will just walk away. My dog can tell the difference immediately and I’m fully confident that his long term health and resulting health risks are minimized from the mistake that most dog owners make by not being selective in this regard by allowing their pet to drink from the tap.

  10. It’s not a scam. It helps relieve the severe dog over-population that we currently have. I’m not sure what Sharon means by her dog being upset. Is he trained and consistently but firmly handled (Positive re-inforcement?). Dogs are like children in that they need a set of rules that are firmly and consistently applied. If you let them rule the roost, they can become little brats! Find a good positive-reinforcement trainer (no shock collars, leash yanking, etc., and start going with your dog. If you can find a reputable nose work or agility trainer, that’s also a good way to bond with your dog.

  11. Well water can have more contaminants than tap water from a well maintained city system. If you are on a well system, you should have your well water tested regularly. It’s my experience that most people don’t test their wells, and they don’t maintain them.

  12. Sharon, give your dog spring water bottles at the source Nothing beats spring water or well water which the bible the secret or foundation of nutrition always talks about . The do not need vitamins that is actually dangerous . There is a saying “Spring is King” . Remember, if you buy bottled spring water make sure the plastic container has a number “2” at the bottom so the plastic doesn’t leech into the water .

  13. Sharon , you shouldn’t have had your dog neutered, it’s terrible, nothing but a money making scam by most vets . There are what is called” Bach ” flower remedy’s that can help with emotions etc . They come in little liquid bottles . You squeeze some drops on his front limbs were he can lick it of to get it into his system to help calm him down .Or you can just try to get his mouth open and squeeze some drops in his mouth or under his tongue .
    You can get them at like health food stores like [ whole foods] .

    1. Neurtering dogs saves lives! Dogs can get Cancer,suffer from mood disorders and having really dibilatating periods a few times per year! Plus there’s unwanted-unloved pups in the world from not having their dog(s) Neutered/Spayed!! So,Neutered/Spayed dogs are the best kind of dogs!!

  14. Structured water is the very best for every living thing:
    A list of some of the benefits that people have experienced includes:
    • Increased Energy and Vitality
    • Mental Clarity
    • Spiritual Clarity
    • Expanded Access to Source/God
    • A Living, Moving Relationship with Water
    • Expanded Love in their Relationships
    • More Confidence
    • More Self Love
    • Coming Back to Life (A Cancer Survivor’s Story)
    • Easier Resolution of Obstacles
    • Better Health
    • Improved Skin
    • Thicker, Fuller Hair
    • Hair Returning to Natural Color
    • Better Digestion
    • Improvement in Acid/Alkaline Balance
    • Eating Less
    • Disappearing Scars
    • Better Circulation
    • Feeling Warmer
    • No More Asthma
    • Allergy Relief
    • Increased Sunburn Resistance
    • Proper Hydration
    • Improved Eyesight (prescription reduced for the first time ever)
    • Better Sleep
    • Enjoying Drinking Water
    • Better Taste
    • Kids Drinking Water Now
    • Reduced Mineral Deposits on Fixtures
    • Better Tasting Food
    • Longer Lasting Produce
    • Healthier Plants
    • Faster Growing Grass
    • Reduced Use of Shampoo and Body Wash
    • Something so Divine and Delightful that there Aren’t Words to Describe it
    • Overall Better Feeling of Body Function and Well being

    I am not connected in any way to this company, but personally know that structured water is a wonderful thing.

  15. I started using spring water for my dogs and my coffee. I have noticed a difference in the carafe I make it in. cleaner and nothing floating anymore. I never realized there would be such a difference. A dog nutritionist told me to start using purified water and all natural foods and natural vitamins. What a difference in the pups.

  16. THANK YOU. I have a question, I have a LONG haired small chiwawa. He has been neutered, he is almost always upset. Like mood swing. Is there anything I can do for him ? I have tried every thing. Nothing seems to work. I hate seeing my baby like THIS. He is going on 5 years OLD. Ty. Ms. Sharon

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