Of all the things you have to worry about as a pet owner, you may think that water is the least of your worries. After all, water is water, right? Wrong. As anyone who’s ever drunk mineral water, Aquafina, or the countless other types of purified water will tell you, the question remains – water, water everywhere, but which type should you drink?
Which should your dog drink?
Can dogs drink tap water?
If not, what kind of water should your dog drink?
A Problem of Purity
Let’s be honest – if you can afford to ask whether or not tap water is good for your dog, you probably already know the answer. Either you’re lucky enough to live in an area where water purity is no big deal and tap water is safe, or you live someplace where tap water is notoriously foul, obviously unsafe, and neither humans nor dogs should drink it if possible.
As Oscar Wilde famously said, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple,” and the same goes for ascertaining the “truth” of tap water purity. Where you are will dictate how pure and thus a big part of how safe your tap water is for your dog to drink – and even then, you may want to consider other options.
The Case for Tap Water’s Safety
Aside from water purity in areas with proper sanitation, there are several points in tap water’s favor, including:
- It’s obviously the most affordable water option
- Places such as the United States and United Kingdom add fluoride to tap water, which can help build strong enamel and improve your dog’s dental health
- Different regions of the United States and United Kingdom have different levels of water hardness and softness that, as described below, can have an impact on how your dog reacts to the water
- If you want to purify your tap water even more than it already (hopefully) has been, it is relatively easy to do so
In terms of that last point, there are all manner of home water purification systems you can use to purify water from your faucet or refrigerator for you and your dog.
The Case Against Tap Water’s Safety
However, even if you are lucky enough to live in a place with purified tap water, there are other potential reasons why you may want to consider other options, including:
- The possibility that the water is not clean or safe to drink; contaminated water can range from Flint, Michigan levels of contamination to simple murkiness or iffy odor
- The possibility of contaminants such as lead or arsenic being present, especially in areas where the piping or filtration system is old and faulty
- coli and other bacteria may be present in badly filtered water; while many strains are not actually harmful, those that are can cause a litany of nasty issues from vomiting and diarrhea to elevated heart rate and weakness
- Tap water can also be home to other parasites, such as giardia
- Although a little bit of fluoride can be good for your dog’s teeth, too much can cause significant problems for their kidneys, potentially damaging them; it can also lead to weakness, seizures, drooling, restlessness, and diarrhea
- Likewise, too much chlorine can be dangerous, especially for dogs, though the level included in tap water is usually below these danger levels
Hard Water Versus Soft Water
If you do decide to provide your dog with tap water, you’ll also want to consider whether to opt for hard or soft water.
Hard water contains more natural minerals, which can make it taste better. However, it can also damage aspects of electrical products, such as electrical water purifiers due to limescale.
By contrast, soft water often doesn’t taste as good, and doesn’t have calcium or magnesium, both of which can help improve your dog’s health. However, it is also free of excess sodium, so if that’s a concern, it may be preferable.
About Bottled Water
If the tap water in your area isn’t pure enough to trust, or you don’t like some of those other aspects mentioned, you might want to provide your dog with other options.
The most obvious alternative to tap water for dogs is bottled water. On the one hand, there’s no denying that bottled water is a de facto costlier option since tap water is free, and certain brands can be pricier than others.
The plastic containers can also play a big role here. Containers marked PET can be safe for your dog, whereas those marked BPA contain Bisphenol A, which can harm pets.
Can Rainwater Work?
You may wonder if this is a serious option, and the answer is yes. After all, dogs have had to find sources of water for far longer than we have been able to provide them with bottles of Aquafina. In fact, not only can rainwater be safe for dogs to drink, but if you’ve ever watched them do so, they certainly seem to enjoy it.
Of course, if this is an option for you, it will depend in large part on how abundant rain happens to be in your area. It is safe to say this may be more of an option for places such as London and Seattle than Phoenix or Dubai. That said, rainwater obviously doesn’t contain any fluoride, for better and for worse, so you’ll want to strengthen your dog’s teeth in other ways.
Even if you do collect and give your dog rainwater, you’ll still want to purify it to make it as safe as possible for your dog to drink.
Tips for Keeping Water Safe
If you do opt for tap water (and even if you don’t but use something such as rainwater), there are a few tips you’ll want to take to heart to ensure your dog’s drinking water is as safe as possible. Chief among these, you’ll want to buy a home water testing kit and test the purity of your dog’s water source before giving them any.
If you buy water, consider getting a consumer confidence report on it to ascertain its quality. Municipal water plants typically publish reports about the quality of their water supply.
You may also want to consider purchasing products that are marked as meeting the certified standards for water purity and safety in your country.
Above all, you want to find a source of water that is purified of any contaminants. Wherever possible, you want to look for sources that also contain nutrients. Sometimes, this can involve using tap water, but if the water is impure, bottled water or rainwater can be preferable – though these have their own potential drawbacks.
Check the purity and quality of the individual water supply you are considering before giving it to your dog.