Old Dog, Gross New Trick
February 20, 2007 1:17 PM   Subscribe

How do I train my dog to drink from a water bottle?

She's almost 14 years old, and she has Cushings Disease which makes her very thirsty. In the past week or so, she started gulping air along with her water, so every time she has a good long drink, she makes a loud burp and spits up a bunch of the water she just drank. Then, of course, she needs more water. We got her one of those bottles like you see in hamster cages (only much larger, obviously), but she absolutely refuses to use it. We can't seem to make her understand that water comes out of it. We tried putting the end in her mouth so she could drink from it, and she got all pissy and walked away. We tried putting a little peanut butter on the spout, but she's more or less lost her sense of smell, so she ignored it. I'm afraid to take away her water dish and let her get so thirsty she has to use the bottle, but I'm running out of ideas. Any help? BTW, I talked to the vet when this whole air gulping thing started, and she was the one who suggested the bottle.
posted by dogmom to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the bottle glass or plastic?

If you can squeeze it and spray her in the face (playfully), she'll get the idea.

If it wasn't too expensive you might want to risk putting something on the end to make it drip or leak slightly (with a bowl underneath) so she gets the idea that that is where water is.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2007

nursing bottle?
posted by rob511 at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2007

Target stick.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:38 PM on February 20, 2007

Many dogs don't actually tend to drink well from those bottles, since dogs naturally drink by using their tongue to basically scoop up water (if you ever see slow-motion footage of dogs drinking, you'll see that their tongue rolls backwards at the tip to make a scoop). I'm a bit surprised your vet suggested it, actually, since I very much doubt that a dog who is a) old and b) in need of adequate water will be able to manage this well enough to keep herself comfortably hydrated. Has the vet x-rayed her neck and upper GI tract and done a thorough exam? Especially since this is a new problem, I'd be concerned about the cause.

Perhaps try raising her water bowl (it may be uncomfortable for her to lower her head for very long, so she's trying to get more water into her in as little time as possible).
posted by biscotti at 3:23 PM on February 20, 2007

Biscotti- it was the on-call vet who suggested the bottle not our regular doc, and I actually have a message into the regular vet, just in case. To clarify the question a little, my dog suddenly has decided that she doesn't want to get her nose wet (she's always hated water in her face, so this new nose thing may be part of that). On her regular floor dish, she rests her nose on the edge of the dish opposite her body, and sticks her tongue down into the water as far as it will go in order to drink and keep her nose dry. We've tried filling her dish to the top, but the Cushings (or the meds from it) has made her clumsy, and she steps into her dish fairly regularly. We don't mind cleaning up after her, but if we can avoid the mess in the first place, we would like to. I'll try raising the dish and see what happens. Thanks for your answers!
posted by dogmom at 4:09 PM on February 20, 2007

Seconding raising her bowl - it will force her to tilt her snout more into the bowl to get her tongue actually down into the water, this should help at least a little with the swallowing too much air bit. Make sure the bowl is as full of water as possible, as well.

Also, you might want to look into a dog faucet. At my parents house where I grew up we would often leave the dogs to run about our fenced-in property all day long, and we used these to make sure they could always get water in case their dishes ran out. Not sure if your dog would take to it (its kind of similar to the bottle idea), but it might be worth a shot.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:58 PM on February 20, 2007

I wonder if it's to do with her eyesight or balance or something like that that's had a recent deterioration (resting her nose on the dish makes me wonder if she feels she needs a physical help to find where the bowl is and/or to manage the act of drinking). While raising the bowls is not recommended as a matter of course anymore, for dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, shoulder problems and other problems which make lowering their heads difficult, it can be a real help and make eating and drinking more comfortable. You could also consider a spill-proof bowl, they have a very wide lip which might at least make it easier for her to keep her nose out of the water (but which might make drinking more difficult), alternately, maybe a shallower bowl? I don't know which would work better.

Please update here and tell us how she manages.
posted by biscotti at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2007

could you leave the bathtub plugged with an inch or so of water in it (so it pools at the drain end the back end stays dry)? not sure how big the dog is, but my cat loves this method..
posted by twistofrhyme at 8:35 PM on February 20, 2007

Just chiming in to say our tiny shih tzu does drink from a water bottle and we all love it. I suppose it does take him longer to get an adequate drink out of it than it might otherwise, but it's very clean and keeps his fuzzy face clean too. He definitely has no problems staying hydrated. The bottle gets nearly emptied every single day, which is impressive for an 11 pound animal.

In addition, my downstairs neighbor did manage to teach her dog the idea of the water bottle within a few simple minutes. Now, this is a HUGE 97 pound boxer, and he always has his ceramic water bowl available to him, but I thought it was worth noting that a 5 year old animal could learn the concept.

You may decide that some of the ideas that the other posters suggested work better for you, or that it's too much trouble to get your particular animal to switch after such a long time, but it is possible for this method to be effective. Good luck to you and the pooch!
posted by theantikitty at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2007

have you considered something like a gravity feeder that will deliver the water to your dog in shallow doses? it may slow her intake.
posted by de at 6:19 AM on February 21, 2007

Hi all, and thanks so much for your responses.
After I posted my question, my dog decided to stop drinking altogether, and we ended up at the vet's for IV
fluids. It also turns out that she's got a nasty infection in her nose. Apparently the "water" we thought she was spitting up was phlegm (gross!), and every time she drank water, it was making some post-nasal drip come up. She was getting so dehydrated that eventually she was too confused to drink anything at all. So, after a few hours of IV fluids, and a shot of antibiotics, she's much better. The vet suggested smaller amounts of water at a time, so now we have her water in a shallow bowl (like a pasta plate), so she can only take in a couple of ounces at a time. Luckily, the husband works a different shift, and the dog doesn't have to be alone for more than 2 hours a day, so we can refill her water fairly regularly. The shot of antibiotics kicked in, and so far, no more phlegm, but her sense of smell probably won't come back (that's been gone for a while anyway- before this all started). Thanks again everyone, for your responses.

Anyone need a barely used dog water bottle? :)
posted by dogmom at 1:59 PM on February 21, 2007

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