• September 05, 2020 3 min read

    Is Soft Water Safe For Dogs?

    spotted dog drinking water from a bowl

    What is hard water? Hard water contains natural minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium. These minerals are not necessarily harmful to your dog, so giving them this water is not risky. A water softener works by replacing the calcium and magnesium minerals in hard water with sodium and potassium. But then begs the question, is hard or soft water better for cats and dogs to drink?

    Is soft water good for dogs to drink? In short, yes! Softened water is safe for most pets to drink. Softened water meets the EU Directive on water quality, meaning it is safe for human consumption, which includes pet consumption.

    Is hard water bad for dogs?

    Experts say giving your pets hard water won’t cause any problems, as the minerals in hard water (calcium, magnesium, and iron) are not known to lead to any health issues. In some cases, veterinarians may advise against giving your cats or dogs untreated tap water. This is not because of the minerals but because of the chemicals that municipalities add during the water treatment process, like chlorine and fluoride.

    Consider checking with your municipality if you live in hard water areas, since there's the potential for other contaminants to appear in the unfiltered tap water as well. If you get your water from a private well, we recommended having your water tested once a year.

    What are the disadvantages of soft water?

    salt in a spoonAs with humans, softened water isn’t recommended for pets that have a restricted or sodium-free diet. The amount of sodium getting added to your home’s water depends on how hard it is to begin with. However, the amount is generally very minimal. If you are ever unsure, please don't hesitate to contact your local water specialist. Soft water has higher sodium levels because of the ion exchange process water softeners use to exchange hardness causing calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions.  One of the major disadvantages is that this process only replaces the natural minerals and does not filter contaminants like chlorine in tap water. If you are looking for something to filter chlorine, consider a Reverse Osmosis filter.

    Please consult with your veterinarian for additional information if they have recommended a low-sodium diet for your pet. As even minimal levels of sodium aren't recommended for older dogs and dogs that have heart or kidney diseases.

    What are the advantages of soft water?

    Give your pets mineral-free water

    dalmatian drinking waterMost experts agree that providing your pets with hard water is not likely to cause any issues. Hard water minerals including magnesium, iron, and calcium are not likely to lead to any health problems. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that your tap water is safe for your pets. Some veterinarians advise against providing dogs and cats with untreated tap water. This is not because of any hard water minerals, but rather the chemicals used during the water treatment process, such as chlorine, fluoride, and other trace chemicals in tap water.

    Cleaner Bathing

    black dog getting a bathBeyond just consumption, soft water is a huge benefit to any pooch's bathing care. Dogs who bathe in soft water will have healthier and cleaner coats of fur. This is due to the removal of hardness minerals that typically buildup on the follicles and clog natural pores. Dogs who bathe in soft water tend to have healthier and cleaner looking coats of fur. Even in professional dog grooming clinics, soft water is typically used as it binds together easier with soap to produce an easier lather that keeps fogs fur from becoming oily and tangled.

    Is it OK to give your dog distilled water?

    Do you switch to hard water if you notice your dog won't drink soft water? In this situation, there is another option, try bottled or filtered water. As mentioned before, you can always install a Reverse Osmosis drinking system. An RO system can remove up to 99% of contaminants that municipal treatments add, producing pure and great tasting water.


    One last thing to consider; if you decide to switch your pet to a soft water diet, do it gradually. A sudden change could disturb your pet's stomach if sensitive. Just like humans, all dogs are different, and so are their water preferences, which is why some may like soft water while others don't.

    And make sure to consult with your veterinarian before making any serious changes to your pooch's diet.