Why Do Dogs Like Drinking Rainwater? Stagnant Water Diseases

Dog looking to a puddle of rainwater. Why do dogs like drinking rainwater?

Dogs like drinking water everywhere except their designated water bowl. Is your dog more interested in a muddy puddle than their bowl? Here’s why do dogs like drinking rainwater!

Dogs like to drink rainwater because it smells and tastes different from tap water and/or bottled water. Rainwater is rich in minerals, bacteria, and other road/ground scents. Dogs taste the puddles or pools of water to explore those scents and tastes! Of course, not all rainwater is safe for dogs to drink, so you’ll need to be careful in this common doggy habit.

Is rainwater safe for dogs to drink?

While it seems harmless enough falling from the sky, rainwater in puddles is not safe to drink! It is not clear, first of all, and it can also have a huge amount of dangerous issues just below the surface. For example, dirty, chemical runoff (including antifreeze), oil, animal poop, dead insects, litter and garbage, and more.

If your dog just has a lap or two, they most often won’t get enough to cause them a problem, but drinking liberally from it is a hazardous risk!

Can a dog get sick from drinking rainwater?

Yes, your dog can easily get sick from drinking rainwater. Some of the most common infectious conditions include Leptospirosis, E. coli, and Giardia. Salmonella is another popular one.  

Even if your dog doesn’t get any of these, dirty water can give them a stomach ache and mess up their appetite for a few days. Really, there are no advantages to your dog drinking rainwater! But, of course, dogs don’t understand that.

Should I stop my dog from drinking puddles?

You should definitely consider stopping your dog when you see them sniffing and trying to drink from puddles. As you are already aware, there are no upsides and many harmful, dangerous, and potential downsides to drinking puddle water!

Why do dogs like drinking dirty water?

As mentioned above, dogs like drinking dirty water because it fascinates them. There are lots of scents and flavors that show them something new and exciting regarding their palette. Dogs are curious and will drink the water.

The other thing is that most dogs find tap or well water boring. It doesn’t have an interesting scent or taste, so this new and exciting water will get their attention easily!

Symptoms to look for if my dog drinks rainwater

If you want to make sure that you’re prepared if your dog has had rainwater to drink, then you’ll want to look for the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

These can indicate kidney failure and other illnesses that can be fatal. You’ll want to call your vet and let them know what happened. The more symptoms you notice and the stronger they are, the more you’ll want to get them to the vet for them to see what’s going on.

Diseases your dog can get from drinking dirty rainwater

Your dog can get many very serious diseases, illnesses, and infections from drinking what seems to be harmless rainwater from a puddle. Some of the most common include:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Lungworm
  • Giardia
  • Antifreeze poisoning

All of these are very serious and can be fatal. You’ll want to have your vet run a full panel of tests if they’ve had a lot of puddle water to drink. They need to know exactly what your dog is dealing with for proper diagnosis and treatment!

All of these are very common problems from drinking rainwater. It isn’t just a rare occurrence that your dog doesn’t really have to worry about. Your dog is putting their health at risk every time they take a lap from unhealthy water sources.

Dog drinking rainwater from a puddle.

How do I know if my dog has Giardia?

If your dog has Giardia, you’ll be looking for symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. They can start out mild, but they’ll often get more severe.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs?

This is one of the most common complications and the most serious ones because the symptom is so common: stomach pain. Since dogs are champions at not letting us know that they’re in pain, it can be almost impossible for us to know that there is a problem.  

This stomach pain can be masking something more serious, which is kidney failure. This is why proper vet tests are important. They’ll be able to see the infection and treat it quickly for your dog’s best chance.

Can dogs get worms from dirty water?

Dogs can get lungworm from dirty water, although it’s not as common as the other conditions. The symptoms of this parasite include an increased breathing rate, coughing, and wheezing. This can be fatal since it infects the lungs and is notoriously difficult to destroy with one treatment cycle. 

The amount matters

Remember that these issues are all likely if your dog drank several gulps of water rather than mouthfuls. While even small sips aren’t recommended, you don’t need to panic about your dog going into instant kidney failure.

That being said, a quick trip to the vet for some testing is still a good idea if you notice those symptoms listed above or something just doesn’t seem right about your dog!

What to do if my dog drinks rainwater

If your dog drinks rainwater, you’ll want to follow these steps to help give them their best chance at recovering safely:

  • Wash them off, especially their mouth area
  • Offer fresh water and encourage them to drink
  • Watch for the symptoms listed above 
  • Feed a bland diet
  • Consider specialized vaccinations

These steps will help you to get them as clean as possible, inside and out, which is going to be a huge help — though not a cure — for possible health complications.

The honest fact is that some dogs just love to drink puddles. If this is the case and you’re worried that you won’t be able to catch this behavior every single time, consider specialized vaccinations that will help protect them as much as possible.

How to stop my dog from drinking dirty rainwater

If you want to do whatever you can to prevent your dog from drinking rainwater when you’re out for a walk, then the best thing you can do is be as preventative as possible in your approach. This includes:

  • Avoid obvious puddles in bad locations (parking lots, commercial areas)
  • Always have fresh water on you so that your dog can ask you for water
  • Teach obedience commands to draw your dog back to you when they start inspecting a puddle
  • Have your dog fully vaccinated for protection

Keeping your dog safe from the possibility of dangerous rainwater is in your best interest and that of your dog. Remember that drawing your dog away from this bad water isn’t going to hurt them. At most, they’ll be disappointed that they don’t get a chance to play with the “interesting water” and then will move on to the next thing.


Dogs find rainwater fascinating because it both smells and tastes different from the normal water they access. However, this kind of water can be dangerous since it can teem with bacteria, chemicals, animal poop, dead insects, and more.

While rainwater is interesting for your dog, it’s not safe, and you’ll want to know what you look for in signs of illness or infection and how to stop your dog from doing this.

Rainwater can pose a serious threat to your dog, so you’ll want to prevent them from lapping it up. Know someone with a dog that is bad for doing that? If so, you’ll want to share this with them to help spread the know-how!

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Sara Santos

Writer, Editor and member of the Council, I am a dog person and I thrive to get the answers that will help you provide the best care a dog can have. You can also find me on my personal blog here.