Can Dogs Drink Non-Potable Water?

Admit it; you may have thought about giving your dog a sip of water from the toilet, or your seasonal river downstream.

It’s not uncommon for people to think that because their dog drinks from puddles and other dirty sources of water, they can definitely stomach anything.

Talking of anything, does this include non-potable water?

Is it safe for dogs to drink non potable water?

The thing is, dogs can drink non-potable water but it doesn’t mean that they should.

While non-potable water may not kill your dog, it can still make them sick.

Ingesting contaminated water can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and in some cases, even death.

This article will examine some facts about non-potable water (water you shouldn’t drink due to potential contaminants) and whether your dog should consume it.

In addition, it will provide your dog with alternative drinks to non-potable water.

Can Dogs Drink Non-Potable Water

Risks of Consuming Non-Potable Water for your Dog

Consuming non-potable water can be harmful to your dog. The significant risks include:


Non-potable water contains parasites that could make your dog sick.

If your dog consumes it, they may get parasites such as Giardia, roundworms, and hookworms that can live in their system.

They may also get Cryptosporidium parvum parasite, which causes cryptosporidiosis.

These parasites can cause severe stomach upsets, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs.


Bacteria like E coli and Salmonella can cause lifelong health problems.

For instance, Salmonella can lead to several diseases, including gastroenteritis, septicemia, and spontaneous abortions.

On the other hand, E. coli may result in diarrhea.

Several illnesses, such as leptospirosis and Lyme disease, can also develop in your dog after drinking from contaminated sources, such as puddles or streams.

If left untreated, leptospirosis can be fatal, but it is easily treated with antibiotics if caught early enough.


Viruses can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever and joint pain if your dog is exposed to them through contaminated water sources.

Some of the most common viruses include:

  • Parvovirus (can be fatal)
  • Distemper (can cause respiratory problems)
  • Rabies (can be fatal)

Moreover, a virus such as canine distemper is highly contagious and may kill your dog within days of infection.


Chemicals are poisons (e.g., pesticides) used in agriculture for pest control.

If they’re present in high enough concentrations, these chemicals can make their way into non-potable water like streams and ponds, where dogs might drink from them.

Chemicals like chlorine or fluoride can cause severe damage to their kidneys and other organs.

If your dog has consumed non-potable water, monitor them closely and watch for symptoms of illness such as vomiting or diarrhea.

If you notice any signs of disease, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Non-Potable Water

Symptoms your Dog May Display after Consuming Non-potable Water

After consuming non-potable water, your dog may experience various symptoms depending on their health and the degree of contamination.

These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy and weakness

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What to Do if your Dog Consumes Non-Potable Water

If your dog has consumed non-potable water, don’t panic.

The water is unlikely to cause any severe problems.

Here are a few things you can do to help your dog recover:

  1. Call your vet immediately if symptoms develop (such as vomiting or diarrhea) and let them know what happened. Furthermore, take some of the water your dog consumed with you so the vet can analyze it. If your dog has taken a lot of water, they may need to be treated with an IV of fluids.
  2. Get the dog’s stomach empty by administering oral electrolyte therapy. This will help your dog pass that water naturally and reduce the risk of serious complications.
  3. Once your dog feels well, it’s time for tender loving care. After all, your dog went through something scary and probably needs a little extra love and affection from you. You can provide them with treats or extra food to make up for everything they’ve experienced today.

Alternative Drinks to Non-Potable Water for Dogs

Keeping your dog hydrated is essential, especially in the hot summer months.

If your dog prefers water, have some with you by all means.

There is no better way to keep them healthy and hydrated than drinking potable water.

Other dog drinks just do not compare.

Yet, there are occasions when you can offer them a tasty alternative to regular drinking water.

Popular options include prosecco, health tonics, beer, and wine for dogs, which are delicious and harmless.

However, your dog should only take them as treats occasionally, if at all, as they’re not super healthy. 

Water may not be a favorite of your dog.

In that case, you could add bone broth or a tasty and nutritious biscuit to their water to encourage them to drink more water.

Depending on your dog’s normal diet and size, the calories lost through drinking can be replaced with two to three small biscuits.

This is another reason to use healthy treats instead of regular snacks.

Is Non-Potable Water Safe for Dogs to Drink?

Dogs should not drink non-potable water as it’s not safe for them.
Non-potable water is any type of water that isn’t safe for consumption.
It can include streams, lakes, ponds, and even puddles.

Final Word

Dogs should not drink non-potable water, whether it’s from a pond or swamp.

It could be hazardous to their health.

It isn’t worth the risk of your dog getting sick or, worse, losing their life.

If you want to keep your dog safe, only provide them with drinking water from sources you know are safe.

Ideally, this will be water treated to drinking water standards that you’ve boiled.

If in doubt, use bottled water instead.