FAQ -- Automatic Dog Waterers
Why is watering dogs important?
Water is vital for all living things, including dogs. Because we offer a diverse line of automatic waterers, you have to assess your situation and ask yourself, "What fits me and my dogs best?"
When should I consider an automatic waterer?
Heat is a major consideration when choosing an automatic waterer. Dogs need access to water no matter the time of year, but their need increases in hotter months and warmer climates. Because of the additional heat in most regions, waterers are more necessary in the summer.
What are the pros and cons of automatic waterers?
Automatic waterers are a great way to provide your dog with a constant supply of fresh, clean and cool water. The majority of what we classify as automatic waterers are designed so you can screw them onto a hose or connect them directly to a water pipe. Buckets and bowls don't offer this convenience.
It can be tempting to stop checking your dog's water daily when you install an automatic waterer. If your waterer were to stop functioning properly, your dog could be at risk of dehydration. Therefore, at the very least, these products should be checked daily for proper function. Always remember that your dog is at your mercy when it comes to having water available.
How do automatic waterers work?
Conceptually, automatic dog waterers are just little commodes. As the water valve begins to float in the waterer, it slowly halts the flow of water into the reservoir. It is the exact same technology that fills your commode when you flush.
Why do some waterers cost so much more than others?
The difference between a $20 waterer and a $120 waterer is the material they are made of. A $20 one is made of plastic, whereas a $120 one is made out of stainless steel. There are also differences in the quality of the internal components.
The nicest metal waterer that we sell is the Nelson 1200. It is made of high-grade stainless steel and is our most popular automatic pet waterer. It can be attached directly to a chain link fence or to a wall with the hose connected on the left side or the right side, depending on what you need. Although stainless steel can rust, it is not as inclined to rust as other metals and will maintain its shiny finish over time.
If you're on a budget and your dog isn't a chewer, then a plastic waterer may meet your needs. If you've got a chewer, then we don't recommend plastic automatic waterers because your dog will destroy them.
The Tough Guy Waterer is made of polypropylene, connects to your garden hose, and provides consistent fresh water for your dogs. It is fence or wall mountable and easy to clean -- just twist the large drain plug to empty old waste water. Add a drain hose to direct the used water away from your dog's drinking area. It's rust proof, durable, cleans quickly, and is sun resistant.
Our least expensive automatic waterer option is the Aqua Buddy which is just the right size for home use. It connects to any standard garden hose and provides consistent fresh water for your dog or cat. It's also made from polypropylene, is easy to clean, and is sun resistant.
What about water buckets or bowls?
We recommend stainless steel water buckets over plastic or rubber. When considering the type of water bucket you need, think about how likely it is to be tipped over. You need to make sure your bucket is secure and large enough to contain enough water to last until you return. Even with the best buckets, it is still good practice to check your dog's water daily, or better yet twice daily if possible.
Buckets are good for kennel runs. If you are wanting to set up a stationary waterer, we recommend a stainless steel bucket that holds 4-5 gallons. You should clip the bucket to your fence with a double end brass snap or brass bolt snap with swivel eye to prevent your dogs from knocking the bucket over. In the summer, we recommend putting two buckets in your kennel so your dogs have a backup.
No-tip water bowls are good for indoor use, but may not be the best choice outside. As the water level drops from your dogs drinking, it becomes more likely the bowls might be turned over. Plus, a lot of dogs (Labradors in particular) like to dig in their water bowls. The largest no-tip bowl we carry is about 96 ounces or 3/4 gallon.
How do I keep algae out of my dog's water?
Algae growth is the biggest problem that you have got to watch out for, whether you use bowls, buckets, or an automatic waterer. Although treated city water isn't supposed to have algae, once you set it outside it is exposed to organic material in the air which can lead to algae growth. The best way to fight this is to keep your dog's water in the shade. Since the shade changes over the course of a day, you should carefully consider your kennel location and water location.
Algae requires sunlight, so if you leave your dog's water in direct sunlight long enough, algae will begin to grow. We will occasionally have customers who don't realize what is going on, and the next thing they know, the bottom of their dog's new bucket or waterer is green. Also consider that the water is going to get warmer as the temperature rises, and the algae will grow more rapidly in the warmer water. Keeping it in the shade as much as possible will keep the temperature down, slowing algae growth. Most algae is not that harmful, but if YOU don't want to drink something, your dog probably doesn't either!
We recommend you dump and refill stationary water sources like buckets and bowls at least every other day, depending on the time of year. Water buckets and automatic bowl waterers have to be cleaned out on a semi-regular basis, depending on how much direct sunlight they are exposed to. If you have an algae situation, the fastest way to clean it is with a bleach-based cleaning product called the Wysiwash. Be sure that you follow the product directions exactly before refilling with clean drinking water.
What about Lixit Automatic Dog Waterers?
A Lixit is a different concept than an automatic water bowl in that a Lixit does not fill up. It is very similar to a water fountain and attaches directly to your outside faucet. It has a lever on the end that your dog presses, allowing water to run out. Most dogs that use them love them, and they are also really inexpensive. In a lot of situations, they are better than a bowl because you don't have to worry about algae or the bowl getting knocked over.
A bowl-style automatic waterer is self-explanatory to your dog. You put the bowl out there and if your dog is used to drinking out of a bowl, they will use it. Alternatively, a Lixit actually takes a bit of training. The easiest way is to take some peanut butter and put it on the end of the water release lever. Since most dogs love peanut butter, your dog will start to lick it and the water will run out.
We have two different models of Lixit. Most people are going to want the Lixit Automatic Dog Waterer for Faucets which is designed to screw directly onto your faucet or spigot. You might customize it by adding a hose to put it in a preferred location, but you are really better off connecting it straight to the faucet so there is no hose for your dog to chew on. We also have the Lixit Dog Waterer for Pipes which attaches to a half inch water pipe, which most people do not have.
What if it's below freezing outside?
Lixits and non-heated automatic bowl waterers are not intended for below-freezing temperatures. For those cold winter months you need a heated waterer. To install a heated waterer you need a combination of water and electricity, which is not something that a lot of people are comfortable combining. Make sure that you are putting your dog in a situation where he CANNOT mess with the electricity. If your dog is a heavy chewer or young puppy this line of products may not be for you.
We highly recommend the Osborne Canine Canteen Heated Water Bucket. It is a stainless steel-lined water bucket that is heated. The Osborne is not an automatic waterer.
The Nelson "Blue Devil" Water Bucket Heater keeps your dog's water from freezing in sub-zero temperatures and can be used in metal, plastic, or rubber buckets that hold up to 5 gallons of water. It features copper tubing that protects the power cord from chewing, a stainless steel mounting bracket, and a safety chain that snaps to the fence to prevent the heater cord from being pulled into your dog run.
The Kane Heated Dog Waterer contains a 5-gallon reservoir that you replenish as needed. It comes completely assembled with a 2 piece mounting bracket. The heater turns on when the water drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and remains functional with an outdoor temperature as low as -48 degrees Fahrenheit.
What will work best for you? It depends on your situation, your dog, and your kennel set-up.
How should I handle watering on the road?
Generally when traveling with dogs, the only time you will need to water them is when you walk them. Stop every three or four hours to exercise them, and at that point offer them water. We recommend several portable bowls as an option, or you could carry two quart stainless steel bowls.
The biggest downside to just filling up water bowls whenever you let your dogs out is that you end up dumping out whatever they don't drink. When you are carrying eight or fifteen dogs with you, wasted water is not a good idea. As an alternative, we recommend the Buddy Bowl. Buddy Bowls are plastic spill-proof bowls that hold about 1/2 gallon of water. They will not leak or lose water between stops and are especially good when you are only traveling with a couple of dogs. Plus, when one of your dogs gets hot, you can leave a Buddy Bowl in their crate so they have access to water the entire time. If you do choose to leave water in their crate, we recommend you add Kennel Deck flooring in your dog boxes so if water does spill, your dog is not going to be laying in it. You don't want your dog laying in water for a prolonged period of time.
Another option is to use a Portable Standalone Waterer, such as the Drinking Spot or Ruff Tough Waterer. These waterers hold more water than the Buddy Bowl which makes them great for watering multiple dogs, but they are not completely spill-proof, so it really comes down to how many dogs you have to water at one time when deciding which will work best for you.
The Drinking Spot holds 2.5 gallons of water. Just flip it down and the bowl section fills with water, automatically refilling as your dogs drink. It will continue to refill until the reservoir is empty. When your dogs are done, flip it back up and all the unused water will drain back into the storage reservoir. The Ruff Tough Waterer, which holds up to 1.5 gallons of water, works in a similar manner.
What if my dog stays at home indoors while I go to work?
Most of the products we carry are designed for outdoor use, but some could be utilized inside as well.