What Should My Labrador Drink?


People often ask questions about their Labrador’s drinking habits.

And need advice on the type and quantity of fluids that they should be providing.

Like all dogs, Labradors have a sweet tooth.

They will happily drink all manner of fluids that we normally associate with humans.

But that does not mean that they should.

Can dogs have sweetened drinks?

Like us,  Labradors are prone to obesity.

Dogs are often willing to drink human beverages.

And giving them sweetened drinks will do them no good at all.

It may also encourage tooth decay

Your dog will not suffer if he only has water to drink.

This is exactly what nature intended, and water is the very best liquid he can consume.

Should dogs drink milk?

Dogs over six weeks old do not need to drink milk, or fluids containing milk.

Should dogs drink at night?

Even the special ‘bitches milk’ varieties you might have seen.

Once a puppy is weaned, which he will be when you bring him home at eight weeks,  he needs only water.

In fact, milk,  especially cow’s milk, can cause upset tummies.

Which is not pleasant for either of you!

What type of bowl is best for water?

Your dog’s water bowls need to be heavy.  Otherwise your dog will be able to tip it up,  and if you are not aware of this, he may get very thirsty.

Straight sided Ceramic Dog Bowls are ideal and are usually dishwasher safe.

If your dog spends a lot of time outside, make sure he has water there too.

How often should water be provided

Generally speaking, your dog should have drinking water available at all times.

This means leaving a bowl on the floor in a place where the dog has constant access, and keeping it full.

But there are exceptions
There is no need to leave your dog water during the night, whilst you are asleep.

Like you, he does not need to drink during the night, and will be fine until morning.

In fact, it is a good idea to take his water up at bedtime, if your dog is not yet fully house-trained

Don’t forget to put it down again in the morning

What should puppies drink?

When your puppy is very small, it is a good idea to take his water up an hour or so before bed-time, so that he does not have chance to ‘fill himself up’ just before he goes to sleep

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This will help reduce his night time ‘bathroom’ needs,  so that he learns to sleep through the night.

Do dogs need drinks in crates?

If your dog is crated for short periods of time, again, leaving water in the crate is not essential.  If his bowl is accessible at all other times, provided he is in good health, he will not get dehydrated in the space of an hour or two.

If you leave water in the crate, it is likely to get spilled and possibly to soak his bedding.

On veterinary advice

Don’t forget, if your dog is due to have an operation, you may be required to remove his access to water for some time before you take him to the vet.

This is to reduce the risk of vomiting and fluid getting into the lungs during the procedure.

How much water should my dog drink?

There is no rule of thumb that can tell you how much your dog should drink

Dogs that are fed kibble will drink a lot more water than dogs that are fed on a raw diet only, or a combination of the two.

Dogs that have just eaten a raw meal containing a lot of bone, will need to drink more than dogs that have eaten a mainly meaty meal.

Can drinking changes be a sign of illness?

If your dog seems to be drinking excessively you may worry that he is ill.

There are health problems that can cause excessive thirst.

Including diabetes and some kidney problems.

It is very important to have a vet check your dog out if he seems to be abnormally thirsty, especially if he has any other symptoms.

Temperature affecting dog drinking habits

External temperatures will influence how much a dog drinks too.

Dogs need to drink a lot more in hot weather and dogs that live in warmer climates will drink more than their northern cousins. Especially if they are exercising.

As you cannot predict how much your dog will need to drink, it is vital that he is allowed to determine the quantity himself, and that fresh drinking water is always available.   So don’t forget to keep that bowl topped up!

What Should My Labrador Drink?

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

More information on Labradors

labrador-jacket-800You can find out more about how to keep your Labrador as fit and healthy as possible in the Health section of our website.

If you’d like all of our best Labrador information together in one place, then get your copy of The Labrador Handbook today.

The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects owning a Labrador, through daily care, to health and training at each stage of their life.

The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.


  1. HI,

    My 2 month old Pup does not drink water at all. He is currently on a Baby Food Powder Mixed with water diet, every four hours. This diet was as per the breeder. I have also introduced him to puppy kibble at one meal time. The only way to make him drink a bit of water is by mixing a tiny bit of milk (a few drops) in the water. But plain water is a strict no for him.

    Any suggestions?

  2. My dog drinks from muddy puddles, any rain water that collects anywhere outside. A particular favourite of his is lapping up water that has collected on the grass in the park. He runs while lapping it up and makes a tremendous slurping noise. It looks hilarious! He doesn’t drink much from his bowl, perhaps because the tap water in these chalky parts where I live is pretty unpalatable (to me, at least!). But he always has a full bowl of fresh water just in case.