How to Keep Dog Water from Freezing without Electricity?

Constant hydration for your dog is essential no matter what the time of year. Although warm weather might make them thirstier in the summer, it is also important that when playing outside, they have constant access to drinking water even in the winter months.

And this is problems can arise, because often your dog’s outdoor water bowl can freeze over, meaning he loses access to a water source. If your dog is left alone outdoors or in open access kennels, it’s a potential danger.

However, there are some hacks you can use to keep dog water from freezing without electricity… or spending any money. I’ve compiled some of those tips below.

I have also included a recommendation for a heated water bowl (on Amazon), dish, or bucket in case you can get an electricity point sorted… because a heated bowl will always be the best option.

How to keep dog water from freezing outside

1. Put ping-pong balls in the bowl

This might seem a bit strange, but a lot of dog owners opt to putting a couple of ping pong balls (up to three) in their dog’s outdoor bowl during the winter to stop the water freezing. This is because when the wind blows, the ping pong bowls will cause little ripples on the water. This constant rippling then prevents the water from settling, which then prevents it from becoming still enough to freeze!

Of course, this method isn’t fool proof. Sometimes, in extremely cold temperatures and a lack of wind, you might find that the water bowl still freezes if the ping pong balls in it. If this happens, all you need to do is remove the balls, crush up the ice, and put the balls back in the water.

It might be good to move the bowl to a windier location if this keeps happening.

Also, if your dog is the more playful type, you might want to check that they don’t run away with the balls from their bowl!

2. Put a microwavable heat disc under the water bowl

You can also keep your dog water from freezing outside using a microwavable heat disc (view on Amazon). It’s a popular and cheap option that doesn’t need an electricity cable.

First, warm up the microwave disc for a couple of minutes (the time needed to heat the disc will depend on the wattage of your microwave, but you need to make sure that it is hot to the touch).

The first time you do this, it is better to microwave the disc for one to two minute intervals and then put it back into the microwave if necessary. This way, you will be able to see how long is needed to sufficiently heat the disc. Then, using an oven glove to protect your hands, remove the disc from the microwave and place it under the bowl.

You can now leave it under your dog’s bowl, dish, or bucket, and it will stop the water from freezing over.

It is important to bear in mind that this is more of a short-term solution, as the microwave disc I’ve shown you here is said to run out of heat after 10 hours.

3. Put the water bowl in a Styrofoam cooler

Buy a Styrofoam cooler on Amazon and cut a doorway out of one end. The whole needs to be big enough for your dog to be able to stick his head through, as the water bowl will be left inside the Styrofoam cooler.

The cooler will keep the water from freezing and could keep the ice at bay for a few hours until it’s time for you to return and refill the bowl.

To stop the cooler from blowing away and shifting in the wind, weigh it down with rocks.

4. Place a sealed bottle of hot saltwater in bowls

Get a plastic water bottle and fill it with approximately a quarter or third of salt and fill the rest with water. Then, submerge it in the water bowl.

This is effective because saltwater has a lower freezing temperature than pure water. The idea is that by submerging a sealed bottle of saltwater into the dog’s bowl, the bottle will transfer some of its heat to the rest of the water and stop it from freezing.

However, be mindful of the bottle splitting, and be sure to remove the bowl if the saltwater mixes in with the pure water to avoid your dog drinking it – saltwater is bad for dogs and can lead to poisoning.

5. Use an old tire with heated rocks

Cut the top off an old rubber tire, place it down, and put your dog’s water bowl in the center. Next fill the space inside the tire outer rims with dark rocks. The reason this can keep your dog’s water from freezing is down to heat.

how to keep dog water from freezing without electricity
Stop dog water from freezing without electricity with an old car tire. (Image via WikiHow, licensed under Creative Commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)

The sun will heat the dark rocks, and they will remain warm for hours. Therefore, the water bowl will also keep warmer, meaning the water should not freeze over as quickly as it normally would.

6. Use rubber water bowls instead

Rubber is a better insulator than metal. This means that it will lock more of the heat in the water than a metal bowl would, which means that the water in the bowl will be slower to freeze.

To maximise the effectiveness of this method, try to find a sunny spot to place the bowl in! Even in winter, if you place the bowl in a sunny spot, the sun will warm the rubber.

As with some of the other methods, using rubber bowls might not be effective if the weather is extremely cold or if you are leaving the bowl for a long period of time. It should be effective for a good few hours.

7. Keep a spare bowl on hand

Although it’s hardly a ground-breaking solution, having a spare water bowl on hand can be useful so that you can swap it with the other bowl if you find it is close to freezing up. This means that your pet will have consistent access to drinking water, and it is certainly cost effective.

However, if you haven’t got the time to swap water bowls every couple of hours, you might find that this isn’t the best solution for you to stop your dog’s water bowl from freezing outside.

Handy Hint: You might also find that birds want to eat your dog’s food and drink the water in outdoor bowls. Here’s how to prevent birds stealing your dog’s food.

Methods to stop freezing that need electricity

8. Put a heater or heat lamp near the bowl

If your dog’s water bowl is close to the house, under a roof or near a plug socket, another option is to place a small heater or lamp near the drinking bowl for a quick-fix solution.

All you need to do is plug in the heater or lamp and then place the bowl around 5 to 10 inches away. The idea is that the heater or heated lamp will radiate enough heat to keep the bowl warm and prevent the water bowl from freezing over.

If you decide to do this method, it is important that you only do it on a covered patio. If left uncovered, moisture can enter your heater or lamp and then cause damage: stopping it from working.

When doing this, it is important to keep an eye on your pup so that they don’t get too close to the heater – they might get burnt!

9. Invest in a heated water bowl

And finally, if you want an easy way to keep your dog’s water from freezing outside, and don’t mind spending a little money, an easy solution is to get a heated water bowl. Available in many shapes and sizes, they will suit your dog no matter what the breed.

The one below is said to be the best option on Amazon.

If you can position the bowl near a plug socket, you can purchase a heated water bowl with a plug and cable.

If you use a heated water bowl, you will need to refill it more often due to evaporation. It is also advisable to get your dog used to drinking before winter hits so by the time they need it, they are used to using it.


If outdoor temperatures get too cold, your dog’s water can freeze. With temperatures only dropping further as time goes on throughout the day, it is very unlikely for your dog’s water to defrost on its own. This then leaves you with a situation where your dog has no access to drinkable water outdoors, which can lead to dehydration and other health issues.

Because of the implications of dehydration, it is important to solve the issue of a frozen dog water bowl.  You can keep your dog’s water from freezing outside, and you don’t have to use electricity as I’ve explained… but the best option will always be the heated bowl.

So, as you can see, cold weather needn’t prevent your pup from having access to refreshing unfrozen water! There are many options – with various price ranges – to solve this commonly-found problem, which means that all dog-owners can feel confident in tackling this issue regardless of their budget or dog breed!

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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