Is Running Water Better For Dogs?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 4 November 2021
Expert Content

Is running water better for dogs?

This is a question you may ask yourself as you refill your dog’s water bowl.

Most dog owners will be accustomed to filling their dog’s bowl with water directly from the tap.

Some pet parents like me may use filtered water from a jug.

However, there’s been a shift towards pet water fountains in recent years, providing dogs with the luxury of running water.

Apart from looking cool and producing a relaxing sound, are there any benefits to our dogs?

We asked a number of expects to give their perspective on whether running water is better for dogs.

Dogs Prefer Running Water

Dr Sabrina Kong DVM, Veterinary Writer at WeLoveDoodles

Running water is not necessarily better for your dog, but it can be more appealing as these special fountains make water seem fresher (which equals better) to your dog.

Dogs generally prefer running water, as opposed to stagnant as it is a primal urge they carry to modern times. Before, when they were in the wild, running water meant cleaner and healthier water and that’s why they feel compelled to drink more when they’re offered water in this form.

So owners with a dog who has trouble staying hydrated might consider this option, as a way to appeal to your dog’s preferences – much like we do for children who eat poorly.

Jack Russell drinks from a water fountain (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Jack Russell drinks from a water fountain (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Mental Stimulation

Dr Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ And Vet Expert At Pumpkin Pet Insurance

Some dogs may prefer to drink running water from a fountain over still water in a bowl. The possible benefits include improved taste, higher oxygenation, and mental stimulation – your dog may think it is more exciting to drink from a fountain and therefore may drink more and stay better hydrated.

Running Water Filters Will Remove Chlorine

Pedro M. Aponte, DVM, Ph.D., A College Professor Of Veterinary Medicine And Animal Biotechnology (USFQ) and Editor Of Animal Hackers

Running water is suitable for dogs because it contains essential minerals and should have negligible amounts of microorganisms. However, running water is sanitized by adding chlorine or other related products usually associated with bladder cancer in humans. But, one recent study could not find a link between dogs drinking chlorinated tap water and disease.

If this is a concern for you as a dog owner, the good news is that running water filters will remove chlorine and by-products from your drinking water.

If you do not yet have a water filter, you can tap on these alternatives:

• Boil your dog’s water for 20 minutes and let it cool. Boiling will remove most chlorine and other gaseous by-products

• Have your dog’s drinking water sunbathed. The UV component of sunlight will decompose chlorine chemicals into harmless molecules. Place your water under the sun for two days (two 12-hour daylight periods). This method assumes you will protect your water from contamination from the environment.

• If on the road with your dog, quickly remove chlorine from tap water by adding 40 mg vitamin C per gallon of water. Vitamin C will inactivate chlorine compounds in tap water.

Environmental Enrichment

Dr Linda Simon, Veterinary Surgeon And Veterinary Consultant At Five Barks

Our dogs are wild at heart and the more we can create an environment that mimics nature and the great outdoors, the better for them. It is not natural for a dog to drink from a stagnant water source. Indeed, stagnant water in the wild can be dirty and contaminated, so dogs are hard-wired to avoid it.

Many owners become frustrated when their dog refuses their fresh bowl of water and instead chooses to take a drink outside. However, this is a natural behaviour. As the water outside may be contaminated with e.g. bird poo and rat urine, it is best to try and provide all of your dog’s water at home.

So, dogs have a natural desire to seek out running water. Due to this, we tend to find that if we start offering a source of running water, our dog begins to drink noticeably more than before. This isn’t surprising when you compare this cool, fresh water to the room temperature water in the dog bowl that may be contaminated with dog fur and food left behind from previous drinks.

Increasing water consumption can be important in several cases. This includes in those dogs prone to urinary tract issues such as urinary crystals, bladder stones and kidney disease. It is also important to ‘up’ our dog’s water intake temporarily if they are losing water via vomiting or diarrhoea. This is especially true for pups, seniors and chronically unwell dogs who are more prone to dehydration.

Running water can be seen as a source of environmental enrichment. Initially, dogs will enjoy the novelty factor and will appreciate their new ‘toy’. In your home, the best way to mimic a source of natural running water is to purchase a doggy water fountain.

Avoid Bacteria In Water

Sara Ochoa, DVM And Veterinary Consultant At

Running water is better for dogs to drink. Many times this is a water fountain that is constantly flowing. When water sits still it can quickly grow bacteria and slim. It can also attract insects. If the water is constantly moving it is harder for the slime and insects to build up in your dog’s water.

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