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9 Tips: How To Get A Dog Drink Water After Surgery

How To Get A Dog Drink Water After Surgery

As a dog parent, it pains you enough to have your dog undergo surgery.

After the operation, it breaks your heart even more as they struggle. 

Dogs are lethargic after surgery, especially in the first 12-24 hours.

It takes effort to make them drink water post-op. 

But it’s an essential component for your dog’s well-being. Drinking enough water can also help Fido’s recovery.

Your pooch needs about 1 ounce (30 mL) of water per 1 pound (0.5 kg) of their body weight per day.

It’s a challenging process for both of you, I know. 

Fortunately, help is available for you in this article.

By the end of this article, you’ll know:

  • 9 tips to get your dog to drink water.
  • How to make bone broth for your dog.
  • 7 water-rich fruits and vegetables to feed your dog.
  • How to give your dog water through a syringe the proper way.
  • Dog-parent recommended remedies to help you get your dog to drink water.
  • And many more…

How do I get my dog to drink water after surgery?

You can get your dog to drink water after surgery by feeding them crushed ice, bone broth, and soup. You can also hydrate them by giving them an electrolyte drink, tuna, and yogurt. Try water-rich fruits and vegetables, too. In some cases, you’d have to use a syringe to make your dog drink water. 

9 tips to get your dog to drink water after surgery

#1: Feed them crushed ice

Dogs typically enjoy eating ice, especially after a long walk on a sunny day.

However, this time’s different. You’re going to be attending to your post-surgery pooch.

Feed your recovering pooch some crushed ice after surgery. 

The ice chips work as a great trick to keep your dog hydrated.

Warning: You should crush the ice first. Feeding them ice cubes, huge ones, while they’re feeling groggy is a risk.

Since your dog is not feeling energetic, they might have trouble chewing ice cubes. Or they might not chew at all.

Accidents can happen, and the next thing you know, your dog has swallowed the ice cube whole.

If this happens, your pooch might get bloated. Their stomach might fill up with gas and rotate within their abdomen.

There has been a reported case of this occurrence. The dog that ingested ice cubes needed emergency surgery.

So in this method, you must feed them ice the right way. Besides, it will only take a few minutes to crush some ice. 

Did you know?

Giving them crushed ice can help with their sore throat, too. Your dog’s throat feels sore from the breathing tube during the surgery. 

Therefore, crushed ice is beneficial for your post-op pup. 

#2: Make them bone broth

Make your dog bone broth after surgery to keep them hydrated.

Not only that, bone broth contains a lot of nutrients, too. These nutrients can help with your dog’s health, therefore speeding up their recovery.

It’s great for every dog as it doesn’t contain any allergens like dairy or gluten.

Want to make homemade bone broth? 

It’s easy, but it takes some time. It can take 2 to 24 hours to make, depending on what you prefer for your dog. 

Step 1: Take any bones of your choice (chicken, beef marrows, oxtails, etc.) and put them in a pot.

Step 2: Add enough water to cover the bones. To taste, you can add about 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Step 3: Cover the pot and simmer in high heat for 1-2 hours.

In other instances, you can leave it simmering in low heat in a crockpot for 24 hours. 

Since you can be in a hurry for your dog, simmering it for 1-2 hours can be enough.

Step 4: Wait for the broth to cool down. Once it’s not that hot anymore, you can serve it to your dog. 

It’s also best to make a lot and keep the remaining broth refrigerated. 

If you don’t prefer to make your own, there are many choices available in groceries. 

Here’s one that you can order. Both beef and chicken flavors are available. 

Warning: Don’t make bone broth your dog’s main diet after surgery. It may contain many amino acids essential for your dog’s health, but it’s still not enough. With that, only treat bone broth like a supplemental diet. You must keep feeding your dog their regular meals.

#3: Changes in their water bowl

Change Dog's Water Bowl To Get Your Dog To Drink Water After Surgery

Your fur baby might be a little picky after surgery.

That’s why changes in their water bowl could be on the table.

The first change you would want to try is the water bowl’s placement. 

Since your dog should rest, it’s not practical for their bowl to be away from them. 

Place their bowl near them or even beside them. Doing this allows them not to exert too much energy walking to the water bowl.

You must serve your dog clean water in a clean bowl. That might inspire them to drink more and stay hydrated.

Further reading: 13 Effective Tips To Get A Sick Dog To Drink Water (Fast)

#4: Feed your dog wet food

Feeding someone sick with soup is like a universal practice.

It’s a sweet gesture that lets the sick person know that you care. It tells them you’ll be there to watch them.

Your dog will surely appreciate such a gesture, too.

Plus, feeding them with soup can keep them hydrated.

After all, a fed and hydrated doggo is what you’re going for.

But, canned soups for humans might not be healthy or suitable for your dog. 


Instant soups contain additives that are dangerous for dogs. Specifically, these additives are sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Warning: Human canned foods may contain too much salt content. It’s not safe for dogs as they only need 0.36 ounces (10 grams) of salt per 1 pound (0.5 kg) of their body weight.

Over-consumption of salt in dogs can cause:

  • Fever.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Numerous fatal diseases that can cause death. An eight-year-old Airedale terrier died of hypernatremia. This disease is caused by elevated sodium concentration in the body. 

What’s best is to make homemade soup and incorporate it with their usual dry kibble. By making your own, you’re sure of the soup content and amount of salt.

You can try making your dog vegetable soup.

Another example of wet food is canned dog food. Its contents are made of the right ingredients that are safe for your dog.

These canned foods’ content is high in moisture. And your dog might not mind if you add an extra half cup of water to their food, too. 

#5: Tuna and yogurt hack

This is a favorite trick of many fur parents.

You should put tuna flakes in your dog’s water.

Apparently, it encourages doggos to drink their water.

Tuna adds a little taste to the bland water they’re hesitant to take. 

However, you should only feed moderate amounts of tuna to your dog. 

One tablespoon is the recommended amount that you can add to your dog’s water per day.

Any more than that can cause mercury accumulation in your dog’s tissues.

You should also put tuna that has no oil.

Another food that’ll help your dog stay hydrated is yogurt.

Did that take you by surprise? 

Your dog can eat plain yogurt as long as it’s low-fat or non-fat.

Yogurt is very rich in protein. It contains adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins, too. 

It has many benefits for your dog’s bones and digestive health.

Most importantly, yogurt is a good source of water

A plain yogurt’s water content is more than 75% per 8.6 ounces (245 grams).

#6: Feed your dog water-rich fruits and vegetables 

Other than tuna and yogurt, a lot of fruits and vegetables are rich in water, too! They are also a healthy snack for your recovering pup. 

With that, feeding them with fruits and vegetables can improve their healing process. It will also solve your dog’s dehydration problem after surgery.

However, you should know that not all fruits and vegetables are good for your dog. 

But don’t worry, this article is prepared.

Here are 7 fruits and vegetables that are good sources of water:

Fruit/VegetableWater percentageBenefits
Lettuce96%It contains numerous essential nutrients and fiber.
Cucumber95%It contains high amounts of water but low calories. 
Celery95%It’s made mainly of water and is high in potassium. A supplemental amount of potassium can help increase the speed of recovery, too!
Watermelon92%It’s one of the most hydrating foods there is. And a lot of dogs enjoy it! Watermelon helps improve our heart’s health.
Strawberry91%Their weight mainly consists of water. Research says ingestion of strawberries can help reduce inflammation, too.
Peaches89%It promotes hydration and contains many antioxidants.
Disclaimer: If you feed your dog with peaches, make sure to remove the pits.
Oranges 88%It includes vitamin C that can boost immune functions.
Disclaimer: Too much orange can cause gastrointestinal issues for your dog. So, make sure to feed it to your dog in a moderate amount only. 

#7: Provide your dog fluids with electrolytes

After surgery, your dog is feeling lethargic.

Most of the time, canines will feel nauseated after surgery. So they’re more prone to vomiting. 

Sadly, vomiting is the main cause of dehydration. 

That’s why if your dog continues to vomit after surgery, they must replace the fluids that they lost.

Replacing these fluids can be done by drinking electrolyte-enhanced drinks.

Electrolyte solutions contain essential salts in the body, namely:

  • Sodium.
  • Calcium.
  • Potassium.
  • Magnesium.

According to research, one must stay hydrated for a speedy recovery. And one way to stay hydrated is to consume electrolytes. 

One popular example of an electrolyte-enhanced drink is Pedialyte. Fur parents recommend it.

The normal amount of Pedialyte you can give to your dog is 0.06 oz to 0.13 oz (2 to 4 mL) per 1 pound (0.5 kg) of their body weight.

Disclaimer: Consult your dog’s veterinarian whether they recommend Pedialyte or not. If they do, you’ll receive advice on the correct dosage for your dog.

Also, note that over-correcting your dog’s electrolyte balance is dangerous. There will be a risk of sodium level elevation if there’s too much electrolyte intake.

Dogs’ reactions to Pedialyte differ from one another. 

If you’re hesitant to feed Pedialyte to your dog, there are other options. 

There are numerous electrolyte solutions that are made for canines, too.

#8: Use a syringe

If your dog remains reluctant in drinking water, it may be time to put matters in your hands.

You would have to get them to drink yourself. All you need is a syringe without any needle.

Your dog requires more patience when they’re post-op, so start with small amounts of water first.

Squirt some water into your dog’s mouth near either side of their cheek. 

Note: Make sure to dispense the water slowly. You wouldn’t want to surprise your dog and choke them with water.

This action takes a little getting-used-to. But as you do this, your dog can grow accustomed to it.

Your fur baby will need to be hydrated at least every 30 minutes.

However, it still depends. 

“On what?”

Observe your dog’s reaction within 30 minutes of giving them water through a syringe. In some instances, your dog will just vomit the water out. 

If that happens, stay patient for your doggo. Don’t force them that way anymore.

Your dog might still drink water by themselves. Although, only in small amounts and frequency.

You have to monitor their water intake during the first 24 hours.

You might also be interested in: How do you trick a dog into drinking water?

#9: If dehydration persists, consult your dog’s veterinarian

If all these continue, it might be time to tell your dog’s veterinarian. 

If you can give them a call, do so. Tell them that your dog is resisting drinking and that you’ve tried everything.

They might give you further advice.

If your dog is severely dehydrated, they might need to go back to the hospital.

There, they could be confined and watched closely.

Intravenous (IV) administration will hydrate your dog. The fluid administered contains electrolytes and other essential fluids.

Frequently asked questions:

How long can a dog go without water after surgery?

Generally, your dog can go without drinking water after surgery for 72 hours.

Any more after that will be crucial to your dog’s health.

However, don’t wait for your dog to reach 72 hours without drinking.

Additionally, your dog’s reaction to dehydration depends on their:

  • Age.
  • Breed.
  • Health condition. 
  • Physical activeness.
  • Even the current weather conditions.

That’s why, after surgery, closely monitor your dog’s water intake. Assist them in ensuring they’re drinking enough water.

If you observe reluctance, take matters into your own hands. You can follow the tips given in the article.

If your dog’s not totally getting water, signs of dehydration will show within 24 hours.

The signs are as follows:

  • Dry gums.
  • Weary eyes.
  • Thick saliva.
  • Dry and flaky nose.
  • Loss of skin elasticity. You can try this yourself by lifting the skin on the back of your dog’s head. If it stays upright like a tent, your dog’s dehydrated; however, if the skin goes back elastically, your dog is well hydrated.

If you have already observed these signs, check in on your dog’s veterinarian. They best know how to proceed and treat your pooch.

Is it normal for a dog not to drink after surgery?

Yes, it’s normal for a dog not to drink after surgery. Veterinarians say that dogs recover from anesthetics differently.

Resisting to drink water is a normal reaction of post-surgery dogs.

Your dog could also be recovering from the apparatuses that were used on them.

Their throat could be raw from the breathing tube, and it hurts for them to eat and drink.

Other common behaviors after surgery are:

  • Constant sleeping.
  • Repeated vomiting.
  • Licking of dressings and shaved leg area.

How long does it take for a dog to drink after surgery?

According to many dog parents’ experience, it will take 1-3 days for your dog to drink after surgery. 

Inappetence is a normal reaction of a dog after surgery. However, there can be cases where hesitancy to drink will persist.

Is your dog taking antibiotic medications? If you answered ‘yes,’ they would take a little more time to regain strength and appetite. 

To aid your worry, regularly update your dog’s veterinarian. By doing so, they can monitor your dog’s health, even remotely.

If they suspect something wrong, they would ask your dog to return to the hospital for a follow-up.