Whenever I have to go out during the day, I leave my 12-year-old Golden Retriever in the backyard where she has ample shade, a covered patio and a large bowl of fresh water. She does not drink any water when I am out even if am gone for most of the day and in the heat of the summer. When I return, after excitedly greeting me, she goes to her bowl and laps up a large amount of water. My son, who was her human for the first 11 years of her life, states that she did the same thing at his house. (Sadly, he had to relinquish her care to me because their new baby daughter is extremely allergic to dogs.) When I am home, she usually drinks throughout the day. Why does she do this? Is it harmful to her?
– Sandy, Tucson, Arizona
I am glad this senior lady could remain in your family, and that you have a little history you can pull from for comparison.
It’s not uncommon for a dog to not drink water when their owner isn’t home. Your dog is probably sleeping or just hanging out and is not expending a lot of energy while you are away. When you return, she gets up, engages you and is ready to get some water. I notice it with my dog when I come home. He always heads over to the water dish shortly after greeting me. So, if she is in good health, then you don’t have anything to worry about. This sounds like a habit she has had her entire life.
Also, the Arizona heat probably makes her a little lethargic outside. But just in case, make sure the temperature of the water in her bowl is not getting too warm or too hot to drink, which might discourage her from drinking. If you suspect that is the issue, you can remedy this by placing a bowl of ice cubes outside on the patio when you leave. Your dog may want to crunch the ice, but at the very least, the ice will melt and leave her with cooler water for longer during the day. So, unless you suspect a health problem, just always have fresh, cool water available for her to drink.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal