Dogs have some strange habits that can leave their owners scratching their heads. One of the most unique habits is drinking bath water. Why would a dog that has a perfectly nice bowl of cool clean water prefer your body dirt stew? 

Why does my dog drink bath water?

There’s no concrete reason why dogs drink bath water. There are a few suspected reasons. Unlike most dog behaviors, this one doesn’t seem to arise from some natural instinct. Instead, it appears to be a quirk or personal doggy preference. 

Warm Water

Some dogs enjoy warm water. Most dogs will prefer cold water, even on a cold day. However, a minority of dogs will choose warm water when given a choice. If your dog loves drinking your bath water, it’s possible it’s the warmth they enjoy. 

Salt

Animals have salt requirements, just as humans do. Some animals also enjoy the taste of salt. Since we sweat salt, some of it gets added to the bath water. A dog that likes salt will also lick your skin when you are sweaty, as if you were its personal salt block. It’s thought this is why some dogs love dirty socks as well. 

Owner Taste or Smell

Dogs love their owners, and tend to be attracted to their owner’s specific taste and smell. You can often comfort an anxious dog by providing a piece of clothing that you’ve worn, because it has your scent on it. In addition to licking you out of affection, or a love of salt, your dog might enjoy your taste. It’s a little creepy to imagine your dog considering your bath water a gourmet treat, but it’s perfectly normal. 

Soap

If you’ve ever had your mouth washed out with soap, or caught some in your mouth during a shower, it’s probably hard to imagine why any animal would enjoy the taste. However, some dogs seem to love the taste of your bath suds. If you notice your dog licking at bubbles or soap residue instead of focuisng on the water itself, this might be the reason they are drinking your water. 

Moving Water

Bath water might not be quite the same as moving water, but it’s far from stagnant. Moving water contains more oxygen, and it can actually taste better. Grab a bottle of water and take a drink. Then give it a good shake, and take another drink. You’ll likely notice that the water tastes better after you shook the bottle. 

Doggie water fountains are popular for these reasons. The longer water sits, the more stagnant it becomes. Dogs also instinctively avoid stagnant water because in the wild, stagnant water is more likely to make them sick. So your dog may simply prefer water that’s recently been run to water that’s been in their bowl for hours. 

Should I stop my dog from drinking bath water?

There’s no real health concern with drinking the water itself. The concern would be soapy water. In most cases, even soapy water will only cause some mild diarrhea or vomiting. 

So, when deciding if you should stop your dog from drinking bath water, it’s really a question of preference. Some owners find it adorable and don’t mind the behavior. Other owners prefer to keep their baths private, and don’t want their dog drinking bath water. Some owners are concerned about their dog ingesting soap or chemicals found in bath products. 

The real questions are, “does it bother you?” and “does it seem to have any negative impact on your dog?”.Think carefully about the products you put into your bath water to be sure that they won’t harm your dog, if you want to allow them to drink the water.

The biggest risk to your dog likely comes from natural products that contain essential oils. If you want to allow your dog to drink bath water, it’s best to only allow it when there’s no soap in the water. The other option is to be diligent about the bath products you use, and ensure that they don’t have anything harmful to dogs. 

How to stop my dog from drinking bath water?

Stopping your dog from drinking bath water is actually simple. Bathrooms are equipped with doors that keep others, including your dog, out when the door is shut. However, it’s nto always so easy to implement. 

If You Can’t Shut Your Dog Out

Some dogs don’t take well to being left on the other side of the door. A relaxing bath is not a possibility when you hear your furry family member crying through the door. You may also need to leave the door open so you can hear what is going on in the house, particularly if you have a child. What do you do when you can’t just close the door? 

Leave It

Leave it is one of the best commands you can teach your dog. Anytime they are after something they shouldn’t be, “leave it” will tell them to leave it alone. Of course, this requires training. Begin by using the command and bringing their attention to you. Then give them praise and a treat. If their desire for the forbidden is strong, you’ll need to use a high value treat like a small piece of meat. You may need to physically lead them away a bit or direct their attention to you by petting or moving their head to you at first. Eventually, your dog will look at you when they hear the command, expecting a treat. 

Close the Curtain

This won’t work with all dogs, but some dogs may be deterred by a simple shower curtain. Out of sight out of mind is the goal here. If they don’t see you in the bath, perhaps they won’t be sticking their heads through the curtain and into the tub. If your dog is high energy, this can result in a scratched shower curtain, so use at your own risk. 

Get a Pet Fountain

If they prefer bathwater because it was recently moving, get a pet fountain. This keeps the water moving in a steady stream, and it can encourage your dog to drink more water. It also ensures that they always have clean and fresh water to drink. 

What if my dog drinks soapy water?

It will depend somewhat on the type of soap that was in the water. Some are more harmful than others. It also depends on the amount ingested and any symptoms your dog displays. 

Types of Soap

The good news is that shampoos are non-ionic detergents. These are the least harmful type of detergent for your pet. They may experience some respiratory irritation if they ingest a large quantity. 

Bar soap can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Some soaps can also burn your dog’s mouth and esophagus, but this is unlike y to occur unless the dog snacks on the bar itself. 

A nontoxic bubble bath shouldn’t cause any serious harm to your dog, but it can cause stomach upset. Some bubble baths contain chemicals which can be harmful to dogs as well. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural, so they can seem much safer for your dog than man made chemicals found in most soaps. However, some essential oils are very dangerous to your dog if ingested. Pine oil, which is commonly found in cleaners, can cause weakness and even kidney and liver damage in dogs. Other dangerous oils include cinnamon, peppermint, and ylang-ylang. When using a product with essential oils, be sure that your dog doesn’t ingest the water. 

Rinsing

If your dog ingests soapy water, give them clean water as soon as possible. Be sure their mouth is rinsed well before allowing them to drink, to avoid more soap being ingested.  

Monitoring Your Dog

Next, monitor your dog for signs of detergent poisoning. Soapy water isn’t likely to cause anything beyond mild stomach upset. In this case, you’ll simply need to monitor them to watch out for more serious issues. You may also want to give your vet a call and explain the situation. 

 If your dog is experiencing severe vomiting or diarrhea, a swollen stomach, burns or sores in their mouth, disorientation, or weakness, get them to the vet as soon as possible. 

What Not to Do

Don’t induce vomiting in your dog. This can cause further burns to their esophagus and can aspirate into their lungs. Avoid home remedies like raw eggs and charcoal unless directed by your veterinarian. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.