We previously discussed the 5 basic types of water, spring, well, tap, bottled, and distilled, and which one is best for your pet. Today we continue that discussion by looking at whether hard or soft water makes a difference for your pets overall health.

All living things need water to stay alive. But is some water better than others? We have already established that the only water you should be giving your pet is water that you would drink. In other words, only give pets water that is safe for human consumption. But what about the hardness of the water? Does hard or soft water really make that much of a difference?

Hard Water

In the most basic scientific terms, water hardness generally refers to the amount of dissolved minerals in water. Those minerals typically include calcium, iron, and magnesium. In some cases, hard water may actually be beneficial for humans and pets. If the overall diet in the household does not include enough minerals, the drinking water could be a supplement. In fact, for the most part, experts agree that giving your pets hard water should not cause any problems. However, some holistic veterinarians believe that pets should not be given the additional chemicals in municipal water supplies. Traditional water treatment chemicals include chlorine and fluoride.

If you are on a private water well, you do not have to worry so much about the local municipality is adding to the public water supply, but you should still have your water tested at least once a year for mineral and chemical content. There is also the possibility of other contaminants like bacteria to be present in the water. While there is no conclusive evidence of any pet health issues from drinking hard water, there is at least one study that found a correlation between hard water and urinary tract issues in pets. If your pet has been having urinary issues and you have hard water in your home, it is recommended that you speak with your veterinarian to determine if that could be contributing to your pet’s problem.

Soft Water

If you already have a water softener in your home, it is doing the work of removing the excess minerals from your water. Typically, water softeners do this through replacing those minerals with sodium ions. The amount of sodium added to the water is generally speaking very low volume. However, if your veterinarian has recommended a low-sodium diet for your pet, it is worth having a discussion with your vet about whether you may need to consider an alternate water source for your pet. Another thing to watch out for is the amount of water your pet drinks. Some people and some pets are not fond of the taste of soft water, so if your pet is not willing to drink the softened water, you may want to switch to an alternate water source to ensure your pet stays hydrated.