dog drinking water

Automatic Water Dispensers for Dogs: Pros and Cons and Types that Work

Automatic water dispensers for dogs, also called dog – or pet – drinking fountains, and other water dispensing devices like lick valves, automatic water bowls and water coolers, can help you encourage your pooch to drink enough water throughout the day, even when you’re working late or spending the night away from home.  We do not, of course, encourage you to leave your pup alone for the night but sometimes emergencies do require us to be away longer than we’d anticipated.  There are many options for automatic dog water fountains and other pet water dispensers, but all offer the same general benefits: convenience, fresher water and improved health for your best friend.

 Why is sufficient water intake so important?

Most veterinarians will tell you that proper hydration is a common and serious issue for many of their canine – and feline – patients.  Most dogs need about one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.  So, for example, a 40 pound dog should be drinking 40 ounces (5 cups) of water daily. There are 8 ounces per cup and 4 cups in a quart (16 in a gallon) so you can calculate, based on your dog’s weight, how much water she should be drinking each day. Keep in mind that if your dog has certain health conditions (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease), is a puppy or elderly, or is pregnant:

  • the recommended water intake will generally be higher than the average; and
  • she will be more at risk of dehydration.

Water makes up 80% of your pup’s body and provides the means by which your pup can properly digest food, eliminate toxins and waste, ensure proper circulation and clean her internal organs and systems.  So, dehydration, or the lack of sufficient water in the body, can be a serious issue.  Signs of dehydration can include:

  • increased thirst;
  • sunken eyes and dry skin;
  • decreased urination and urine that is a brighter yellow (more concentrated); and
  • lethargy and general lack of energy.

Providing a constant source of clean drinking water for your dog is therefore one of the most important things you can do as a pet parent.

Why use an automatic water dispenser?

  • dog bowlIf you buy a large-capacity water dispenser you can eliminate the need to fill a bowl with water several times a day.
  • Some dogs are not fond of drinking stagnant water and water fountains and other automatic waterers encourage water intake with all its health benefits.
  • If you need to be away from home for any length of time, the large storage capacity of most automatic water bowls and bottles ensures your pooch will not go thirsty while you’re gone.

 Price is really the only disadvantage to choosing automatic water dispenser for your dog. Automatic water bowls and water cooler dispensers are generally affordable and don’t require much maintenance, but pet fountains can be expensive to purchase and to repair should they become damaged or broken.  In addition, as most dog owners know, if there’s a way for Fido to make a mess, he’s going to find it. Several gallons of water require a lot more mopping than a traditional dog bowl full of water does.

Downsides to traditional bowls of standing water – and upsides

 While bowls of water around the house and yard are always preferable to no water, there are some potential issues to consider when using a traditional bowl of standing water:

  • Bacteria can build up in bowls with standing water.
  • You do need to wash water bowls daily to prevent bacteria build up.
  • Dogs often deposit debris, food bits and hair in the bowl and none of that gets filtered out until you dump the old water and re-fill the bowl.
  • Standing water also attracts dust and floating debris and quickly loses freshness.
  • It can be difficult to monitor your pup’s water intake from a bowl.

The upside to a regular bowl of water is that it is easy to use, easy to clean, easy to maintain (no moving parts), can be very inexpensive and, in a pinch, you can use any bowl you have in the house. Read here for our advice on the best materials for your dog’s food and water bowls.

 Drum Roll: Here are your options!

There is a tremendous variety of water fountains and dispensers for pets so the type that will work best for you and your pup will depend on your dog’s size, health condition and personality and on your specific life-style needs.  Here are descriptions of the basic categories of water dispensers, along with information about the most common and popular dog water fountains and links to products and user reviews.

lixit dog faucetLick Valves or Pet Watering Nipples – These handy tools fit directly over a faucet, allowing your dog to drink on demand. Electronic valves have a built-in sensor to release water when they detect your pet’s presence, while mechanical lick valves are triggered by your dog’s licking. This type of water dispenser is useful outdoors where your pup can reach the faucet, but probably wouldn’t be too useful – and could cause a big mess – inside.

Here are two lick valve options, both by Lixit:

Lixit Dog Faucet Waterer

LIXIT L-70 Pet Watering Nipples

Automatic Watering Bowls – These are generally used outside because they connect to a hose.  However, if you have somewhere inside where you can connect the bowl to a hose, then this will work indoors as well.  The downside to these bowls is that they tend to become dirty very quickly with food, dust, pet hair and other debris, just like traditional water bowls with standing water. This type of automatic water bowl works on the same principle as most toilet tanks do: a hose connects the bowl to a faucet, and a float and valve work to maintain the water level inside the bowl.  If you go with this option and have larger dogs, be sure to get a sturdy bowl to prevent your pups from flipping the bowl over and creating a big mess.

Bergan Automatic Watering Bowl

Miller Ever Full Pet Waterer

dog gravity watererWater Cooler Dispensers – If you’ve ever used an office water cooler, you understand the basics of how these work. An upside down bottle dispenses water through a hole when the water level in the bowl drops below a certain level. These automatic waterers are affordable and easy to clean, but larger models are very heavy when filled with water. Also, some pets are frightened by the loud bubbling sound the bottles make.

Here are some of the more popular models, including a handy travel size dispenser you can clip on your belt:

Petmate Replendish Gravity Waterer

Gulpy Jr. Water Dispenser

PetSafe Healthy Pet Water Station

Pet Fountains – If your dog enjoys drinking from the hose or from your garden fountain, he’ll love a recirculating pet fountain. The water is recirculated throughout the fountain by an electric pump, enabling your dog to drink from the bowl at the bottom of the fountain or from the stream of water. Most of these fountains include replaceable water filters and need to be refilled every few days and some can be noisy so check those reviews!

Here are some of your options:

Homdox Automatic Electric Pet Water Fountain

PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain

Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Raindrop Fountain

Let us know which dog watering product you have tried and tell us which you have found to be the best for you and your pup and why.



©Onpets, LLC 2017.  All rights reserved.

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