Should My Dog Have Water in Her Crate?

Ready access to water is as essential for keeping dogs hydrated as it is for people. But crating your dog complicates things. A water bowl inside a crate can spill and leave your dog uncomfortable—in what should be her cozy, inviting den. During housetraining, the ramifications are even worse.

So, how can you crate your dog and keep her hydrated?

Your priority is always giving your dog easy access to fresh water. Keeping that goal top of mind, you can wisely determine whether to crate her without water, how long you can leave her crated without water, and the instances where water in the dog crate is a good idea.

Do Adult Dogs Need Water in Their Crate?

In general, healthy adult dogs do not need water when crated for an hour or two, if they have access to fresh water before and after their crate time.

If your adult dog spends more than three or four hours in a crate during the day, you can leave her with water, provided she is healthy and housetrained. In this instance, your dog will drink when she is thirsty and won’t likely have an accident.

Crate your destructive chewer with a stainless steel water bowl rather than a plastic bowl, which she may gnaw to pieces out of boredom. Swallowing hard bits of chewed water bowl is dangerous for dogs, as the pieces can cause gastrointestinal damage.

With or without water, crate time during the day should include at least one scheduled break. Your dog needs an opportunity to stretch her legs, go for a walk, relieve herself in the yard, and play. Enlist the help of a family member, friend, or professional dog walker, if you are out of the house all day and your dog spends hours in her crate.

Do Puppies Need Water in Their Crate?

Your growing puppy needs access to plenty of fresh water, but keeping water in her crate is never recommended because it can undermine housetraining. Crate training is a helpful tool in the process because dogs instinctively resist relieving themselves in their den. But if you provide water, your puppy will drink when she is thirsty and won’t be able to hold her small bladder. Beyond causing frustration and distress for you and your puppy, repeated accidents will slow the housetraining process significantly. Though water in the crate isn’t advisable, never limit your puppy’s access to water as a housetraining tool. Give her ready access to water, and then make sure she has the opportunity to relieve herself before crating her.

In general, your puppy should never spend more than two hours in a crate without an opportunity to drink, visit the back yard, go for a walk, and play with her people. Overnight, take your puppy out of her crate and go outside with her every few hours—slowly extending the time between breaks as she grows, until she is sleeping most of the night in her crate without an accident.

When Does My Dog Need Water in Her Crate?

In specific circumstances, making water available inside your dog’s crate is advised. Extreme heat warrants a water bowl in your dog’s crate for any duration, as well as the crate’s relocation to a cool spot in the house. Never leave your dog alone in her crate for long in hot weather—she could run out of water, become dehydrated, and suffer from a heat-related illness.

As mentioned above, you may also opt to put water in the crate if you’re leaving your healthy, housetrained adult dog crated for more than three or four hours. But pay attention to the time, and don’t ask her to stay crated much beyond that without a walk break and some play time.

If your dog has Cushing’s disease, diabetes, or another illness that makes her excessively thirsty, avoid leaving her with water in the crate. Her increased water intake will correspond with increased urine output, and she’ll be prone to accidents, which can be upsetting and uncomfortable for her. In general, dogs suffering from serious or chronic illnesses should have a family member with them most of the time anyway, so this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Does My Dog Need Water in Her Crate Overnight?

No. Healthy, adult dogs don’t need water in their crate overnight. Hydration isn’t an issue so long as your dog has plenty of water available throughout the day. Also, your dog should associate the ritual of going into her crate at night solely with sleep, comfort, and security, and not with drinking water. As for puppies, water in the crate at night will only impede housetraining progress.

If you’ve got a furry bundle of joy at home or one on the way, we have a detailed rundown of what to put in your puppy’s crate at night to keep her content through the wee hours.

How to Give Your Dog Water in Her Crate

If your dog requires water inside her crate, use a bowl that won’t turn the bottom of the crate into a lagoon. Lying on a wet crate bottom is uncomfortable and cold, and if a soft dog pad lines her crate, it could become soggy even if it’s water-resistant. Either way, a prompt cleanup is necessary after water spills to prevent unsanitary conditions inside her crate.

Choose a dog bowl that attaches to the side of the crate, or use a no-splash travel water bowl tucked into the corner. Most travel dog bowls are soft—a welcome feature in close quarters—and resist slipping, so they won’t shift around.

Finally, talk with your veterinarian about how long your dog is crated and whether she needs water. Your vet understands any health or breed-specific issues your dog may have, and can give you guidance and strategies.

As a rule of thumb, keep crate time to a minimum and water available in abundance—outside of the crate. But know there are times when water inside your dog’s crate is the right choice. Base your decision on what’s best for your dog’s needs, and you won’t go wrong.

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