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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Drink Tap Water? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Concerns

Can Dogs Drink Tap Water? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Concerns

filling glass with tap water

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs require water to survive just like humans do. Fortunately, dogs inherently understand the importance of drinking water, so if it’s available to them, they will drink it. They’ll even drink from puddles, rivers, and any other source of water that they come across outdoors—if we let them. The problem is that dogs don’t know what water is safe to drink and what isn’t. For example, they don’t understand that there could be car oil lurking in those street puddles.

At home, you can easily give tap water to your dog to satisfy their thirst. But is tap water safe for dogs to drink? In general, if your tap water is safe enough for you to drink, it is safe enough for your pets. Here is what you should know about this important topic.


The Safety of Your Tap Water

The safety of your tap water supply depends on various things, such as how well your municipal water system is managed, monitored, and maintained, where the water comes from, and whether you’re getting water from a well. So, if you don’t drink tap water out of concern of contamination or for other reasons, you may not want to give that water to your dog either. Let’s discuss the possible contaminants in tap water and how you can improve its safety to make it better for your dog to drink regularly.

Possible Contaminants in Your Tap Water

There may be contaminants in your tap water without your knowledge, even if it looks clear and smells normal. Some contaminants to be aware of include:

  • Lead — While it’s safe to bathe in water that’s contaminated with lead, it is not safe for humans or dogs to drink said water. Lead pipes are no longer legal for building, but if you live in an old home, there might still be lead pipes throughout your plumbing system.
  • Trihalomethanes — This is a human-made chemical contaminant that develops when organic matter is exposed to chlorine water treatments. Fortunately, this chemical evaporates, but it could be present in the water that comes out of your sink because there hasn’t been an opportunity for evaporation.
  • Pesticides — Pesticides from farming and pest control practices can contaminate groundwater and travel long distances. The closer you live to agricultural areas, the higher the risk that pesticides are getting into your water supply.
  • Giardia — This tiny protozoan parasite can’t be seen with the naked eye. When ingested, it can cause giardiasis. Giardia may or may not result in any signs or problems for your dog, but your dog can pass it on to you. Signs that giardia can cause in dogs and people include diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting.
  • Radium — Sadly, more than 100 million people (and their animals) drink tap water that contains radioactive elements including radium, radon and uranium. According to the Environmental Working Group, these contaminants may increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
Water coming from the tap
Image Credit: kaboompics, Pixabay

How to Know If Your Tap Water Is Contaminated

There are a few things that you can do to learn about the quality of your water and whether there are any contaminants in it that you should be worried about. Here are your options:

  • Request a Consumer Confidence Report — If your water is supplied municipally, your local water treatment plant should be able and willing to provide you with an annual consumer confidence report that breaks down exactly what is in your water. You may find that there are things in your water that your water department is working to rectify, but you can do something about yourself at home (like invest in certain filters).
  • Do Your Own Testing — You can take a sample of your water and bring it in or mail it to an EPA-approved testing facility to find out exactly what is in the water that’s running directly into your home. Your local government may offer a free testing site to utilize. Testing can cost anywhere from $20 to $300, depending on the complexity of the test that you choose to utilize.
person testing tap water
Image Credit: luchschenF, Shutterstock

Ways to Make Your Tap Water Safer for Your Dog

Whether you decide to have your water tested or not, there are a few things that you can do to make your tap water safer for your dog to drink without spending thousands of dollars on upgrades. Consider the following:

  • Install a New Water Filter — You can find a variety of add-on water filters that can be installed under your sink or next to your faucet, which will help eliminate many contaminants that might be lurking in your water supply. If you don’t want to install a filter on your water system, consider investing in a filtering pitcher that can be filled from the faucet and stored on the counter or in the fridge.
  • Regularly Clean Your Dog’s Water Bowl — Contaminants can get into your dog’s water from the environment, so cleaning their water bowl two or three times a week can help ensure that contaminants do not get stuck on the bowl’s walls and get into the drinking water.
  • Utilize a Water Fountain — A pet drinking water fountain usually contains a filtration system to help remove contaminants and other impurities from the water, it also continually cycles the water to help keep it fresh and clean.


Final Comments

If your tap water is clean and safe enough for you to drink, there is no reason that you can’t serve it as-is to your pup and any other animals that might be living in your house. If you are unsure whether your tap water is safe for your dog, you can have it tested by an EPA-approved testing facility. You can also install extra filters or consider getting a filtered pitcher.

Featured Image Credit: Andres Siimon, Unsplash

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