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How To Keep Your Dog’s Water From Freezing

The winter months can often be challenging for dog owners, especially if you live in an area where freezing and sub-freezing temperatures are the norm.

On the one hand, we want to keep our lovable furry companions safe from the bitter cold, but our pets also need a measure of outdoor time for things like exercise, potty breaks and more.

One particular trial that dog owners face during the bitterly cold winter is trying to keep the water in their dogs’ bowls from freezing solid.

It’s no secret that all dogs require proper hydration throughout the day, but when the temps plunge below the freezing point it does not take long for the water in those bowls to become nothing more than a solid water popsicle, leaving your dog both thirsty and frustrated.

To help you meet this particular challenge, below we have outlined several easy steps you can take to prevent your pet’s water from freezing, tips that do not directly involve any electric power.

Tips to Prevent Your Dog’s Water from Freezing

If you have a dog that spends any time outside during brutally-cold winter days, it is absolutely crucial that you take steps to prevent your dog’s water from freezing up solid.

To accomplish this, try implementing one or more of the tactics we have outlined below.

Choose Your Dog’s Bowl with the Freezing Cold in Mind

Dog bowls come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

They are also made from different types of materials—a fact that is very important when considering how it will perform on those raw winter days.

Rather than choose an outdoor dog bowl made of plastic or metal, you may want to opt for one made from a more insulative material—a material such as rubber.

As you will see from our next tip, entitled the “Tire Trick,” rubber tends to stay warmer than bowls made of other materials.

When the sun outside beats down on your rubber dog bowl, the material better absorbs that sunlight and retains it, making it less likely that the water inside it will freeze over.

The Tire Trick (Or the Tire and Rock Trick)

Do you have an old tire laying around your yard or garage?

If so, you can easily transform that tire into an effective dog bowl-heating device.

A rubber tire can help insulate your dog’s bowl from the vicious winter temperatures.

How does this trick work? Using a saw—a hand saw or power saw—carefully cut the top off of one side of the tire.

This can take a bit of time and elbow grease, but the end result is worth it.

Once the top of the tire has been removed, center your dog’s water bowl into the resultant opening.

Not only will the rubber of the tire help insulate the bowl, it will also block the freezing wind that could otherwise accelerate the freezing process.

If you want to further shield the water bowl from the cold, gather a bunch of dark-colored rocks and arrange them evenly around the outer edge of the water bowl.

The “dark coloring” is very important here.

Dark-colored rocks will absorb the heat from the sun and the tire, creating a nice warm nest in which the water bowl to sit.

Create an Igloo

To help keep the water in your dog’s bowl from freezing, you may try creating an igloo of sorts, one made from an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler.

Using a small saw or box knife, cut a doorway into the long side of the rectangular cooler.

Make certain that the opening is large enough to comfortably accommodate the head and neck of your dog, but not so large that it allows in the cold.

Next, place your dog’s water bowl into the bottom of the cooler.

This trick works best when the dog bowl has some heft to it.

Cheap plastic dog bowls do not have enough weight to keep the cooler in place, which can quickly turn into a problem on windy days.

Ping Pong Anyone?

Believe it or not, a step as simple as placing one or more ping pong balls in your dog’s water bowl can go a long way towards preventing that water from freezing.

So what’s the science behind this move?  Water tends to freeze faster when it is static—when there is no movement.

That’s why something like a lake, where the water is placid, will freeze up much more readily than even a shallow, slow-moving stream.

When you put one or more table tennis balls into your pup’s water bowl—balls that are very lightweight and buoyant—the outdoor breezes will consistently move those balls over the surface of the water.

This, in turn, creates ripples—movement—in the water, slowing the rate at which the water will freeze.

Now, you may be thinking, “does a trick so simple as this really work?”

The answer is yes, but only to a degree.

Naturally, the colder it is outside the less effective this technique will be, as the balls can only cause so much movement in the water.

However, on days where the temps barely dip below freezing, this can be a very effective step.

Heating from the Bottom Up

Another quick and easy way to thwart the freezing cold temperatures is to place a heated disc under your dog’s bowl, thus warming the water from the bottom up.

Microwaveable discs such as these are very affordable and effective.

When heated in the microwave, these discs can retain that heat for between eight and ten hours, at which time they would need to be re-heated and placed.

Depending on the wattage power of your microwave, these dog bowl warming discs can be fully heated in just one to two minutes.

Because of their heat-retaining properties, it is very important that you use a towel or oven mitt when removing them, placing a hand on either side of the disc.

Next, place the disc on the ground and then center the water bowl on top of it.

Be sure to check the water after about 4-6 hours, as some of these warming devices are more effective than others.

Final Word

These are just a few of the many tricks and tips you can employ to prevent your dog’s water from freezing.

Of course, if all else fails you can always purchase one of the many heated water bowls on the market today, or even use a space heater placed near the bowl for the purpose of warming.


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National Canine Research Association of America