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Why Is My Dog Not Drinking Water After Surgery?

Surgery is always a stressful experience, whether it’s you or a furry friend who is going under the knife.

Once you’re on the other side of the surgery, however, you may find that your dog isn’t terribly interested in drinking water.

This can be concerning to many dog owners, especially if they’ve never had a dog go through surgery before, but in most cases, it’s nothing to worry about.

If issues like this persist for longer than 72 hours, it’s important to contact your veterinarian and have them assess the situation.

This is especially important if your dog suffers from diabetes or other conditions that can also suppress their thirst. Always follow your vet’s post-operative instructions to ensure that your dog makes a quick and complete recovery with a minimum of discomfort.

Adequate rest and hydration are both essential to a quick and complete recovery after surgery, so it’s always best to get your dog drinking water as soon as reasonably possible afterward.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in drinking water, but they are eating, giving them wet food is a great way to get some fluid into their system.

Below is an explanation of why your dog may not be drinking water after surgery, and a few ideas for how you can encourage them to drink more.

Why Is My Dog Not Drinking Water After Surgery?

It actually isn’t uncommon for a dog to avoid drinking water after surgery. Sedation affects their bodies in a variety of ways, including suppressing signals like hunger and thirst.

They may also be experiencing some discomfort from the first stages of the healing process, which often causes them to avoid food and water. However, as long as your dog has easy access to clean drinking water, they should be just fine.

There are actually a few reasons a dog may not be drinking water after surgery. The most common one is simple side-effects of sedation, as this often suppresses hunger and thirst for a while after the operation.

This will generally clear up on its own as they rest and the anesthesia wears off, but it can take a while for the effects to fully dissipate.

Another reason your dog may not be drinking water after surgery is discomfort due to the stitches and the beginning of the healing process.

They may not be sure what’s happened to them and when dogs are afraid or in pain, they will often not eat or drink water. If your dog is uncomfortable during the first part of the healing process, this could also explain why they aren’t drinking.

How Can I Get My Dog To Drink Water After Surgery?

There are a few ways you can encourage your dog to drink more after surgery. First, always make sure their water dish is clean and the water in it is fresh, then set the dish at an appropriate height near your dog.

Setting the dish at ‘head-height’ near them will help encourage them to drink without requiring too much effort on their part.

Always make sure your dog’s water dish is clean. If you don’t want to drink from a dirty cup, why ask your dog to do it?

Having clean water will make it more likely that they’ll decide to drink as their thirst gradually comes back. You can also give them ice chips if they seem disinterested in drinking — this will up their fluid levels and help fight dehydration as well.

Make sure the water dish is set at an appropriate height for your dog as well. This is around ‘head-height’, or low enough that your dog doesn’t have to reach up for it, but high enough that they can reach it without bending their neck.

Dogs are often fatigued after surgery, and this can keep them from going to their normal eating/drinking area, so repositioning the bowl near them is a good idea.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water After Surgery?

Dogs can survive around two to three days without water, but needless to say, it isn’t healthy for them to go that long without liquid.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in drinking water but will eat, try giving them ice chips or wet food mixed with a bit of extra liquid to keep their hydration up.

While dogs can go for a couple of days without water, adequate hydration is important to a quick and full recovery from surgery.

If these issues persist, it’s important to have your vet assess the situation and make sure your dog isn’t in any danger due to dehydration. This is especially important if your dog has other conditions which also suppress thirst.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in water but is eating, you can switch them to wet food to help their hydration.

Wet food is easily digestible and will get some much-needed fluid into your dog’s system. If you’re becoming concerned, you can also mix extra water into their wet food or offer them ice chips as well to increase their hydration and help them get back to their old self.


There could be a few reasons why your dog is not drinking water after surgery, but the most common one is simply the after-effects of sedation suppressing their hunger and thirst. In most cases, a dog not drinking water after surgery is nothing to worry about, provided they have other forms of hydration and these issues don’t continue for longer than 72 hours. If this is the case, contact your vet and have them assess the situation. Otherwise, just make sure your dog has easy access to clean drinking water, and they should recover just fine.