My Greyhound Won’t Drink Water: how to hydrate hounds


If you are concerned, because your greyhound isn’t drinking enough water, you should be!  Not consuming enough water can cause serious health problems.

The best way to get enough water into your greyhound is to measure it, schedule it, and make it taste good.  If he does not get about a quart of water every day, he can develop numerous maladies; including heat stroke, chronic urinary tract infections, and dangerous crystals in his urine.

Each of my greyhounds has had his own “drinking problem,” so read on to learn the strategies I have developed, which will have your greyhound hydrated and healthy in no time.

How Much Water Does my Greyhound Need?

He should be getting at least a quart of water a day.  Theoretically, too much water can be harmful; but you are not likely to encounter that with a greyhound.

In fact, should you find your greyhound drinking a lot more than usual, that is often the first symptom of a urinary tract infection.  Watch for others!  I have a huge resource on greyhound UTI’s, which starts with how to tell when your greyhound may have one:

How Can I Tell if my Greyhound Needs More Water?

Greyhound pro Tom Meulman says that “because a major portion of the fluid reserve is stored within the skin, skin tone is a good guide to the greyhound’s general state of hydration, and dehydration is often the first sign of something going amiss.” 

He adds that the best way to check your greyhound for dehydration is by pinching up the skin along his back.  When you let it go, it should snap right back.  If it doesn’t, your pet is dehydrated.  In addition to the lack of elasticity of his skin,  he may also have a “‘parched’ look with a dry coat, [and a]  tucked up belly,” according to John Kohnke, BVSc RDA.

How Can I Get Enough Water into my Greyhound?

Adding one cup (8 oz.) of water to your greyhound’s food is the best way to get more water into him on a regular basis.  If he eats twice a day, he’s getting half the water he needs, right in his food. 

…but what if he barely touches his water bowl on his own?  That’s the problem I ran into with my present hound, Lily.

What Will Happen if my Greyhound Does Not Get Enough Water?

For my previous greyhounds, 16 oz. was enough to supplement what they drank on their own. 

Lily is different, though.  She rarely drinks on her own. There are days when she never drinks one drop from her water bowl, so she would get only the pint that I added to her food.

It was not enough, as I found out the hard way. Throughout this past Fall, a vicious cycle emerged: she would seem to be a little off, barely noticeable, without clear symptoms, and then she’d be fine.  

Finally, she had a worse bout – She had an “accident” in the house, her urine smelled like fish, she was having trouble getting all of her urine out, and she was crying a little. 

The vet found that she had a UTI and crystals in her urine; and he suspected that the crystals came first, causing the UTI. I knew, in that moment, that a lack of water was probably the culprit!  

How to Get Your Greyhound to Drink Even MORE Water

The vet sent us home with a good antibiotic.  Over the next ten days, I gradually upped Lily’s water intake to 32 oz a day. 

On the advice of a retired nurse, I waited about a month to have Lily retested – until she had been done with her course of antibiotics for a while. Thanks to the medicine, was she free of infection; but thanks to the increased hydration, she was also completely free of crystals!

Read on for the exact plan I used to increase Lily’s water from 16 oz a day to 32 oz a day. 

I added a little “breakfast” and bedtime “snack,” consisting of a little scrap of meat or gravy (about a Tablespoon – you don’t want to start adding a lot of calories – even greyhounds can get fat!) with warm water.  I cook the family meals, so it’s little trouble to keep a bag of meat scraps in the freezer.  

Remember, though – Water in means water out!  I added a quick outing before each of Lily’s meals, so now she goes out morning, lunchtime, late afternoon, dinnertime, and bedtime.   I don’t have a fenced yard, making this the most challenging part of all.  I have to dress us both for the weather and venture out for most of these walks (my husband usually takes her out in the morning).  I had to adjust to having my time broken up that much, but to have Lily healthy is worth it.

Here’s a chart that shows exactly how I gradually upped her water, first by adding the two “snacks,” then by an extra ounce a day, until she was having a full quart of water every day.  The asterisks will show you when I increased the water on each given day.

DAY (V) // TIME (>)MORNING (OZ.)LUNCHTIME (OZ.)DINNERTIME (OZ.)BEDTIME (OZ.)TOTAL OZ.
Starting Point8816
14*884*24
25*88425
35885*26
46*88527
56886*28
669*8629
7699*630
8610*9631
961010*632

An additional benefit of this plan is that Lily is so excited about getting what she considers extra meals, that she never pokes around on her late-night walk anymore.  She can’t wait to get home to her “soup!”

Times When Your Greyhound May Need Extra Help Getting Enough Water

Illness

When your greyhound is laid up, make sure he’s still getting enough water.  It’s important to his recovery, in addition to his regular health.  If he’s not well enough to get up and drink, bring his water to him.

If he is not up to drinking out of his bowl, or he’s disinterested, take heart!  There are other ways to get water into him.  Place a towel under his head, so his bedding doesn’t get soggy:

  • Eyedropper or Pipette – gently pull his lip, exposing his teeth, and drip water into his mouth that way.  
  • Cloth – make sure it is completely clean and free of any soap.  Soak the cloth in water, and sqeeze it out gently over his mouth.
  • Ice Pop – if he refuses water, he might enjoy a little sweet treat.  My favorite way to do this is with a Pop-Ice.  If you’re not familiar with these, they are little, sealed sleeves of flavored water or juice.  You freeze them; and to eat one, you snip off the top of the sleeve, and squeeze out the icy treat.  Greyhounds especially appreciate nibbling on these after dental work.  They also can double as mini ice packs.  Be careful that the ingredients do not include grape juice or xylitol, which are toxic to dogs.
  • Broth Cubes – Freeze broth in ice cube trays. Give your dog one cube in a flat, plastic container.  Bunch up a blanket behind the container, so the dog doesn’t let it get away from him.

Old Age

If your greyhound is old, or arthritic, or both, he may not make the trip to his water bowl as often as he should.  Water helps cushion his joints, is essential for his brain, assists his bowels, and keeps his vital organs from becoming strained.  Here are some strategies for getting your old fellow to drink more:

  • Set up his bowl closer to his bed
  • Help him up, using a harness
  • Add some flavoring to his water (1 Tablespoon of meat scraps or broth) to stimulate more interest
  • For an immobil dog, place the bowl on a large towel in front of him. 

Also, he may be more sensitive to the weather as he ages. Read the next section for getting him to drink in hot or cold weather. 

Weather

Greyhounds can be very sensitive to heat and cold, due to their lack of fat. 

In hot weather, when bacteria grows more rapidly in standing water, it’s important to change his water more frequently. Besides, who wants stale, tepid water?  Adding some ice to the bowl will make it even more appealing. 

In cold water, give him gently-heated water. I discovered this when my poor, old Shannon would shiver after drinking out of his bowl on cold days 🙁

Is Your Greyhound’s Water Bowl Unappealing?

If you are just changing the water without actually washing the bowl, that might be why your greyhound doesn’t like to drink out of it. Even if you don’t smell anything, he may. 

If the inside of the bowl feels slippery, that is actually a buildup of bacteria known as biofilm.  Your dog can smell it; which is a good thing, because it can make him sick. 

Your dishwashing liquid may also leave a smell that your dog doesn’t like. 

The best way I’ve found to stop these problems is to put the bowl through the dishwasher every night. I also use a different water bowl the next day, to allow the first one to fully air out. 

Most bowls get scratched up after a while and need to be replaced, or they become very hard to get clean. Bacteria can hide in the scratches, even after you’ve washed the bowl. 

Finally, this might sound crazy, but sometimes the dog simply doesn’t like the bowl. If all else fails, try a few random bowls from your kitchen, and see if he has a preference!

Resources for Further Info

Enjoy my video with more ideas and demos on getting your greyhound to be a better drinker:

Don’t miss out on Tom Meulman’s ProBoard.  At over 1,000 posts, he’s very generous with his knowledge.  He goes into a lot of depth, but he explains things in a way that is accessible.  Check out this article on how to do a basic assessment of a greyhound’s health, just by looking him over:

https://greyhoundhealth.boards.net/thread/22/having-good-greyhound

John Kohnke’s resource is quite a bit more technical, but contains a lot of inside-baseball on greyhound health for just a 10-page PDF:

http://mcphail.ca/Greyhound_Archives/Library/Medical/Common_Injuries_Greyhounds.pdf

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

Recent Posts