My Dog is Drinking More Water: Why and How to Help

You might have noticed that your dog is drinking more water. But what could be causing the excessive drinking? Of course, dogs take water now and then, but when your dog drinks too much water, you get concerned. You want to know just how much water is normal, and if drinking too much could be a sign of something serious. In this discussion, we explore the various causes of excessive drinking and what you can to do for your dog.

My Dog Is Drinking More Water, Why?

The amount of water your dog takes depends on a number of issues such as size, age, and health status. A bigger dog will normally take more water than a smaller dog. On average, dogs take one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Therefore, a 15lb dog needs about 15 ounces (just under two cups) of water daily. However, puppies, pregnant and nursing females, as well as older dogs take more water.

The condition where a dog drinks more water than normal is known as polydisia. It can occur due to several different reasons, including diet and weather. Following are reasons why your dog is unusually thirsty:

1. Dehydration

If you notice that your dog is lethargic, has dry gums and tongue, and has thick saliva, he/she could be dehydrated. This may be caused by dry weather, too much physical activity and illness. It is worth noting that dehydration can be life-threatening pretty fast if left untreated. For this reason, consult the vet immediately.

2. Diet

Foods that are high in sodium, especially canned food, can cause your pet to drink more water. An elevated level of sodium is dangerous to your pet and, besides excessive thirst, can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, tremors and depression in your dog. Dry foods can also cause a similar reaction. For these reasons, avoid feeding the dog on such processed foods.

3. Medication

Is it possible that similar to humans, my dog is drinking more water due to the medications? This is probable: Some medications can have adverse effects on dogs. Such medications include:

  • Drugs used to treat seizures like phenobarbital can have adverse effects on your dog and cause it to eat, drink and urinate excessively.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone used to treat dogs for IBD, asthma, and allergies can also cause dogs to drink more water.
  • Furosemide, a drug used to treat heart conditions in dogs, causes them to urinate excessively, subsequently causing a demand for more water to compensate for the water loss.

4. Underlying Diseases

Polydipsia can also be a sign of underlying conditions such as the following:

  • Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus in dogs causes weight loss, thirst, and frequent urination. Thirst is brought about by the high concentration of glucose in the blood and the body’s attempt to bring it down.

  • Kidney Failure

When your dog’s kidneys fail, they cannot effectively remove waste and toxins through the urine. This pushes for more demand of water to dilute the toxins in the bloodstream.

  • Liver Failure

When the liver is damaged (up to 70%), it stops functioning normally and therefore cannot deal with toxins in the blood stream. This causes your pet to drink more water in an attempt to remedy the problem. Your dog’s eyes and gums may appear yellow due to increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. This condition will also cause your dog to lose weight.

  • Cushing's Disease

An abnormally high appetite, hair loss, drinking more water and excessive urinating, could be signs of Cushing’s disease. The disease is a result of cortisol in your pet’s bloodstream, and the excessive drinking of water may be a countermeasure to remedy the situation.

  • Hypercalcemia

This is a result of excess production of calcium in the body. The excessive drinking of water is the body’s way of attempting to flush out the excess calcium from the bloodstream. It may also cause kidney failure.

  • Infections

Is it likely that your dog is drinking more water because of an infection? Yes! Infections can cause a rise in temperature, prompting your pet to take in more water to stabilize body temperature.

  • Psychogenic Water Drinking

Dogs may drink more water because of a past trauma or living conditions. This may have developed into a habit over time.

My Dog Is Drinking More Water, What Can I Do?

Bring Your Dog for Diagnosis

The vet will conduct various tests to determine what could be causing your dog to drink too much water. The tests and prognosis include:

  • A blood test will determine what kind of infection your dog is fighting.
  • A blood count will determine if your dog has anemia which may be related to liver and kidney disease.
  • A blood serum analysis will determine if your dog has diabetes.
  • A combination of urine analysis and blood test will determine whether your dog has a kidney or a bladder infection.

Further tests will be conducted to narrow down to the particular condition:

  • An X-ray will be used to check for cancerous tumors in the liver and kidneys.
  • ACTH stimulation test is used to determine endocrine imbalances.

The breed of your dog and its medical history will also help in determining what the problem could be. If the vet rules out all medical problems, he/she may check for behavioral changes.

Seek Treatment for Your Dog

  • Infections are treated with antibiotics.
  • Diabetes mellitus is managed with the help of insulin shots as well as a change in diet.
  • Cancerous tumors are treated with chemotherapy and/or surgery, depending on the stage of the cancer.
  • Kidney problems are treated by dialysis, change in diet and medications.
  • Liver problems are dealt with according to what caused them in the first place.
  • In case of mild dehydration, give your dog 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons (depending on its size) of water every 10-15 minutes over a period of two to three hours. DO NOT give your dog large amounts of water when dehydrated.

In conclusion, noticing that my dog is drinking more water is not enough. You need to investigate the cause of the increased thirst. If you can’t find any obvious cause, it is an indication that you should take your dog to a vet for examination and any necessary treatment.

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