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5 Reasons Why Dogs Like Drinking Rainwater + 5 Safety Tips

Why Do Dogs Like Drinking Rainwater

Your dog ignores the fresh tap water you put in their bowl. 

But as soon as you go out, they drink from rainwater puddles. The murkier it is and the more leaves float on it, the more excited they are.

What the heck?

What on earth has gotten into your furbaby? Should you be worried?

Keep reading to find out:

  • If it’s safe to drink it.
  • 5 reasons dogs love drinking rainwater.
  • What you can do to stop this behavior asap.
  • Fun canine-friendly drinks your furchild can try.
  • If dogs should drink tap water in the first place.
  • And a lot more…

Why do dogs like drinking rainwater?

Dogs love rainwater because they find the taste interesting, tap water has run out or isn’t available, it smells intriguing, they’ve had bad experiences with the water bowl, they’re investigating the rainwater, or your tap water is dirty.

5 reasons why dogs like drinking rainwater

#1: Interesting taste

Which one would you prefer:

  • Drink one form of liquid for the rest of your life?
  • Or taste different drinks from distinct containers?

Let’s be honest here.

We’d all go for the second option. Can’t blame our dogs for being adventurous with their taste buds, can we? 

They drink plain water everyday. Come to think about it.

So, when they spot a fluid with an odd smell and taste to it, they dive right in! For them, it’s interesting and something new.

They’re just like us humans getting curious about a trending drink. Everyone, including dogs, would appreciate more options.

#2: Unavailable tap water

It’s a hot day. The sun is out and scorching. The air is humid and you feel it everywhere.

Your water container is unusually empty. You’re parched plus you’re wearing a thick coat of fur. There’s rainwater not far away.

Why not?

This is your dog’s point-of-view. They’re helpless on their own. They can’t get water even if they wanted to.

That’s why they’re tempted to drink rainwater at times. There’s just no fresh water available. But, how much water does your dog need in a day?

Let’s look at what research has to say.

PetMD says that dogs need one ounce of water per pound of body weight.

So, if your dog weighs 10 pounds (4.5 kg), ensure it drinks 10 ounces (296 ml) of water daily.

Other factors to consider:

  • Does your dog eat wet or dry food?
  • Is it hot outside?
  • Did they just finish exercise?
  • Are they sick or in pain?

If your dog is eating wet food, they may already consume less water. Of course, you can expect more thirst during hot weather or season.

Also, if they just got their exercise, they require hydration. They need to replenish the water they’ve lost.

As for sick dogs, they usually drink too much water. But this isn’t advisable. To prevent this, you can put ice cubes on the water bowl or use small water bowls.

#3: Intriguing smell

Dogs Find Rainwater Smell Intriguing

Isn’t the smell of squeezed lemon mouth-watering? Don’t you feel hungry, even if you just ate, when someone’s cooking something yummy?

While this happens to us humans a few times a day, it’s magnified with dogs. It happens to them all the time!

Science says their sense of smell is 10,000-100,000 times stronger than ours. Now, that’s terrifyingly distracting!

Let’s face it.

Plain ol’ water is boring. Its bland smell is nothing compared to the exciting scent of rainwater.

No wonder our pets can’t resist it. As spiderman puts it, their “spidey-senses are tingling.”

#4: Bad association

Did you know that dogs get scared of their own reflections when they’re drinking from a metal water bowl?

It’s funny how easily they’re spooked. But, let’s not judge.

It’s not like us humans are exempt from this.

Remember that time when it was dark and you forgot you had a mirror in your home. When you saw your reflection, you thought someone had broken in.

Imagine what it’s like for your dog.

They’re just minding their own business drinking water when all of a sudden another dog is also doing it below them.

That’s insane! Not to mention creepy.

No matter how smart your furchild is, they can’t understand that it’s impossible for that to happen. They’re still thirsty though.

And so, they find their ways. Thus, the rainwater chug fest.

But that’s not always the case. There are other factors that are preventing your dog from drinking from their bowl.

Think back.

Has your dog gotten hurt while drinking from it? Maybe their tail keeps on getting stepped on while they’re quenching their thirst. 

Check to see if the location of their bowl is a safe space. Make sure that it’s not placed where people usually pass by. 

You can also move it to another area. And, scatter multiple ones if you have spares.

If you have kids, instruct them to be careful. Tell them to keep their distance especially when the dog is drinking its refreshment.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that bother our dogs.

One example would be if their name tag clanks on their metal water container, resulting in noises.

In this case, you can buy a water fountain for your furchild. 

Remember that it’s not easy to get over something scary. Fret not, positive reinforcement will help you.

Shower them with praise, treats, and love while they’re drinking fresh water. With rewards and patience, they’ll bounce back for sure.

Soon, they’ll ditch rainwater.

#5: Natural curiosity

Dogs Like To Drink Rainwater Because They Are Naturally Curious

Curiosity is part of a dog’s personality. No matter what breed you own, they’re all equally nosy.

Dogs are like furry detectives. They love to investigate things.

There’s nothing that isn’t interesting for a dog. Their minds don’t allow them to get bored.

Grass? Postman? Puddles? Pooch’s butt? Your dog is intrigued by everything.

They’re like the media. They make a big deal out of small stuff.

Researchers even call this trait fearless or bold. But for fur parents, this only means trouble.

There’s no telling what’s floating in that rainwater. It’s not all bad though.

Sometimes, rainwater is harmless. There are also times when you should be wary.

#BONUS: Bacteria & heavy metals in tap water

As I said earlier, dogs have a super sense of smell. That’s why they’re the go-to animals of police and bomb squads.

Fun fact: Dogs can also smell bacteria.

Say what?!

Research says that they can detect Clostridium difficile or C. diff. This is a type of bacteria that causes colitis and diarrhea.

So, another possible reason that your dog is turning to rainwater to hydrate is because your tap water is contaminated.

What a plot twist.

Just when we’ve concluded that rainwater should be avoided. Turns out tap water isn’t that clean either.

CDC says that these are top 10 causes of water system outbreaks:

  • Giardia.
  • Copper.
  • Shigella.
  • Norovirus.
  • Legionella.
  • Salmonella.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Campylobacter.
  • Cryptosporidium.
  • E. coli – this is tied with excess fluoride.

As you can see, it’s not only bacteria that you should be worried about. There are also heavy metals in there that can be harmful to your furbaby.

These include zinc, lead, mercury, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and magnesium. Non-metals, such as nitrates, are another contaminant of tap water.

But wait, there’s more…

There’s also the case of fluoride outbreaks in water systems. I am not gonna ramble about conspiracies like how the government uses it for mind control. Nothing like that.

In fact, fluoride in water is actually safe. It even prevents cavities and tooth decay.

But it’s when it gets too much that it becomes dangerous. This happened in Mississippi in 1993.

A faulty pump caused a fluoride outbreak that affected 34 people. They suffered from gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, GERD, etc.

I’ve only scratched the surface.

So, if you’re currently giving tap water to your dog, please reconsider. If you don’t drink water from the faucet, your furchild shouldn’t do so either.

Because, guess what…

Contaminants discriminate between humans and dogs. This brings us to an important question:

How would you know if your tap water is contaminated?

You can always read the yearly consumer confidence report of your city. This is a file that treatment facilities are required to publish.

This tells you exactly what is in your tap water. To receive a copy of it, get in touch with your water company.

Got trust issues?

Why not test the water yourself? There are water testing kits that you can use.

Make sure though that it’s from an EPA-approved laboratory. This way you’re 100% sure with the results.

Sounds like a lot of hassle, right?

There are two easy solutions to this dilemma. First, you simply let your furchild drink the filtered water you’re already consuming. 

And second, give them bottled water. Choose only those with WQA or NSF seal of approval.

Note: If you’re giving your pet water from a well, you’re not off the hook. There may be germs in there as well.

So, as a private well owner, conduct maintenance procedures and definitely get your water tested.

Read next: 5 Reasons Why Your Dog Drinks So Much Water In Winter

Is rainwater safe? 3 facts

#1: Pure rainwater

Pure Rainwater May Not Always Be A Safe Drink For Dogs

Did you know that rainwater in the clouds is essentially acid?

It’s pH level when it’s still in the atmosphere is 5.7. This is considered acidic. But as you already know, this changes when it falls.

We all experienced getting soaked in the rain. And as a child, you’ve played in it. 

Does this mean that pure rainwater is safe? The answer? It depends.

Research says that rainwater is different from place to place. The chemicals it contains depends on the following: 

  • Amount of downpour.
  • Distance from the ocean.
  • Dust and smoke in the air.
  • Volcanoes, and other factors.

Let me give you an example.

If you live somewhere near the ocean, your rain will have traces of calcium and magnesium in it. Sounds harmless, right?

Well, yes. Rain can be safe. In some places in the world, people drink it.

What they do is harvest it and then boil it. They also use it for watering the plants, bathing, laundry, etc.

Pretty neat, huh?

Some homeowners even collect it. They have dedicated private water systems for cleaning rainwater.

Talk about water bill savings!

Does this mean you should start doing the same?

Hold your horses. There’s more information you need to know.

Although rainwater is generally safe on its own, it can be dangerous. If you live in an industrial area, your rainwater is contaminated by pollution.

It’s worse if there’s a volcano nearby. The rain is tainted by ammonium, sulphates, halogens, etc. These are all very bad for humans, let alone dogs.

For these reasons, it’s best to keep them away from pure rainwater. Even if it looks like a refreshing drink, there’s no telling what it contains.

#2: Muddy water

Dogs love to stroll around the neighborhood. If they’re thirsty during that time, they’ll surely try out puddles.

This is a big no-no!

This water may have feces from squirrels, rodents, deer, etc. It may also contain e.coli, leptospira, campylobacter, cryptosporidium, and more.


And then, there’s the case of antifreeze – a car engine coolant. When there’s a problem with the vehicle such as a blown head gasket, leaky radiator cap, etc., this drips to the ground.

During the rain, this washes away from the concrete and gets absorbed in the soil.

This means that puddles not only have feces and bacteria. It also contains harmful chemicals that are very bad for your furbaby.

That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog especially during walks after the rain. You can always take a water bottle and small container with you.

This way, when your dog tries to drink from a puddle, you can provide a clean replacement.

#2: Rooftop water

Rooftop water may seem safe. But, that’s a common misconception.

Bird poop might be stuck there. So, it’s just as dirty as muddy water. It’ll mix with rainwater when your dog drinks from the drips.

Also, steel roofs are another concern. There are certain types that have zinc coating, such as galvanized steel, which is toxic to dogs.

Other roofing materials such as pipes, gutters, etc. contain copper, lead, and asbestos. These are also not good for your furchild’s health.

#3: Rainwater near homes

Rainwater near your house isn’t an exception. 

Rats linger in human homes and these creatures pee everywhere. So, when there’s some rainwater on the patio or anywhere near your house, be alert.

Rat pee can cause leptospirosis. This can harm your dog’s liver and kidneys.

#BONUS: Rainwater near ponds, lakes, etc.

Rainwater near swamps, ponds, lakes, and even oceans is unsafe. Aside from bugs, toxic algae lives there.

Be wary! It may look like soup to your dog but… it could be fatal.

Warning: If the algae is purple, blue, red, green, or brown, it’s risky. Don’t let your dog drink rainwater on a leaf, rock, or anywhere close to these bodies of water.

5 Tips on what to do if your dog drinks rainwater

#1: Call your vet

You have 3 options:

  • Call your vet and ask for their opinion.
  • Take your dog straight to the clinic.
  • Or, if the other 2 are no options at the moment, you can contact a vet online, give the specifics and ask for instructions. 

They may tell you it’s harmless. This can be true if only a little rainwater was drunk. And, if the rainwater was from a clean surface.

But if you’re not sure, don’t risk it. Especially if your dog starts acting weird and shows worrisome symptoms. It’s best to take the little one to a professional.

#2: Visit the clinic

Surefire signs for rainwater infection are watery stool, vomiting, difficulty breathing, etc. But, sometimes you shouldn’t wait for symptoms.

There are serious cases like blue-green algae poisoning. It usually floats on ponds and other stagnant waters. It also grows on coasts and sea water.

So, if your dog has been in these areas. Go to the clinic. Your dog will need immediate care.

Don’t worry, furparent!

Your vet knows how to treat your dog. They will be okay in no time.

#3: Avoid contact

Be careful.

If your dog had rainwater, this is a health risk. They may pass it on to you and your family.

Bacteria and other contaminants may be on their fur, mouth, etc. So, simmer down on the kisses and hugs in the meantime.

Wait for your furbaby to get better first.

#4: Spare water

Furparents are only humans.

You have our dog’s best interest at heart. But, you aren’t free of flaws.

You’re swamped with responsibilities with work and family. That’s why you forget things, like refilling your dog’s water bowl.

To aid this, keep a spare around the house. You can even place two or three around to be sure.

This way when one is empty, your dog has options. They won’t ever need rainwater again.

Note: Remember to clean your water bowl regularly. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for germs.

#5: Vaccines

If your dog loves rainwater, be prepared. Be up-to-date with vaccinations. 

This will ensure their safety just in case it happens again. It will also keep other pets safe.

Vaccines stop disease from spreading to other animals. By being a responsible dog parent, you shield others as well.

You and your family’s health are also guarded. This is the case with infections like leptospirosis.

What’s more is that you’ll also spend less on vet bills.

Vaccines serve as the first layer of defense. It will prevent things from getting worse and therefore it’s less likely you’ll need expensive medications and treatments.

#BONUS: Fun drinks

Did you know that dogs can drink other stuff too? These won’t have health hazards unlike rainwater.

Cool, right?

If your dog is sick and tired of plain water, spice things up! There are other drinks that you can give them.

Bone broth from beef and chicken are nutritious. It’s best to make these at home though since store-bought broths have questionable ingredients.

You can also let them have drinks specially made for dogs like herbal tea for dogs, health tonics, prosecco, dog wine, and alcohol-free dog beer.

Some pet shops have this. But, you can always look online.

These don’t have to be part of their daily diet. But, it’ll surely amuse your dog’s taste buds from time to time.