Daily fresh water for your dogs is essential for their health. So, knowing you’re giving them the best water to drink is important. Soft water may be best for you, but is it best for your dogs too?
More importantly, can dogs drink softened water?
To answer this, we’ll first find out what soft water is. Then we’ll compare hard and soft water, so you can make the safest and best choice for your dog.
What Is Soft Water?
While hard water is water high in dissolved minerals, soft water is the opposite. Water softeners remove these natural minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium) from hard water to produce softened water.
A water softener system uses the ion exchange process to produce soft water. The water softener mineral ions with sodium ions to soften water. Through this process, water softeners can remove hardness minerals from the water, as well as filter contaminants.
Head over to our post How Does A Water Softener Work? for a detailed discussion on this topic.
Soft Water Versus Hard Water For Your Dogs
Let’s say you’re preparing your household for a water softener installation or are still in the process of considering having a water softener. It is important for both situations to know whether soft water or hard water is safest and best for your dogs.
Is Hard Water Safe for Dogs?
If you ask experts, they’re likely to tell you that hard water won’t cause any problems for your dogs. In some cases though, veterinarians may advise against having your pets drink untreated tap water—and it’s not because of the calcium and magnesium ions in unfiltered tap water. These minerals aren’t necessarily harmful to pets.
The concern comes from the chemicals (chlorine and fluoride) municipalities add during the water treatment process. Though these are safe for human consumption, the same can’t be said for most pets and other animals. If you get your water supply from a private well, it’s recommended to have your water tested at least twice per year.
No conclusive data suggests pets can have health issues from unfiltered drinking water. But a study from Trupanion in 2016 did find a correlation between urinary health claims for cats and dogs and areas in the United States with very hard water. While one study is by no means definitive, it’s still important for cat and dog owners to keep this in mind.
- Contains essential minerals for your dog
- Very hard water has been linked to urinary issues in cats and dogs
- Can cause mineral build-up on your dog’s coat and skin
Is Soft Water Safe for Dogs?
Soft water is safe for most dogs to drink. The concern comes in for some dog breeds where even a slight increase in sodium content in their diet can be harmful. Dog breeds known to have heart or kidney diseases will have problems with even minimal sodium levels. The same can be true for elderly dogs.
If these conditions are true for your dogs or if your vet has your dogs on a restricted or sodium-free diet, it’s inadvisable to give your dogs softened water. Having them drink soft water can increase their blood pressure and trigger kidney diseases.
If your dogs aren’t prone to the health issues mentioned above, then soft water is safe for your dogs to drink. On top of this, having your dogs drink soft water can provide some health benefits. Especially if you live in an area with very hard water, you’ll be avoiding possible urinary issues for your pets by giving them soft water instead.
Soft water is also beneficial for your dogs’ skin and coat. Untreated tap water can leave mineral buildup on their skin and fur. Bathing them with soft water eliminates this buildup leading to moisturized skin and a softer coat for your dogs.
- Free of excess minerals and other contaminants
- Moisturizes dog’s skin
- Makes a dog’s coat softer
- Can add sodium content to your dog’s diet
As long as your dogs aren’t prone to health issues triggered by sodium and do not have a low sodium diet, they can definitely drink soft water.
Going From A Hard Water Diet To A Soft Water Diet
A sudden change to soft water won’t be good for your dogs. Doing so may upset a dog’s stomach. Your dogs’ water consumption may also be affected. With that, gradually changing your dogs’ drinking water to softened water will be the best course of action.
You can do this by mixing soft water with unfiltered tap water. Start with small amounts of soft water and increase the amount over several weeks until you’re giving them purely soft drinking water.
During the transition period, observe your dogs and make sure the soft water isn’t bothering them. The salty taste can possibly turn off some dogs and lead them to drink less over time.
Dogs can drink softened water—as long as they’re not on a restricted or sodium-free diet, or prone to kidney and/or heart diseases. Hopefully, the discussion we’ve had has helped you understand whether water softeners will be beneficial for your household. Check out our other posts for more guidance on the subject.