Why Is My Dog Drinking So Much Water?
If your dog seems to be drinking more water than normal, you may be wondering why is my dog so thirsty? Excessive drinking in dogs is oftentimes associated with an underlying medical or behavioral condition. There can also be normal situations that cause your dog to drink a lot of water.
If you are concerned your dog is drinking more than is normal for them for no explained reason, you need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. In this article, we will discuss various reasons for dogs to drink a lot and to give you a grasp of what could be going on. You will still need to follow up with your vet to have your pup examined and lab work performed. This will allow you to get to the root of your individual dog’s water problem.
How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?
The normal amount of water intake for dogs varies based on a number of factors. It can also vary day by day depending on the changing activity level of your dog and the environment your dog spends their time in.
For instance, dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors will drink much more during the hot summer months than they do in the winter. They will also tend to drink more than a dog who just lies around indoors all day.
Active dogs will have higher water requirements than sedentary dogs. Puppies need to drink a lot of water as they grow, and lactating dogs will need to drink more water as well. Additionally, larger breed dogs will have higher water needs than smaller breed dogs.
Your veterinarian can provide you with a specific liter amount of water your individual dog should drink per day. This will most likely be based off of their “maintenance requirements”. You should keep this in mind because that is just the amount of water they need when having a calm, resting day.
If they go on a long hike or run with you, they will require more water during and in the hours after that particular activity.
Generally speaking, the maintenance amount of water your dog needs per day is based off of the following formula:
- 50mL x kilogram of weight
This means that if your pup weighs about 50 pounds, on average they need to drink just over 1 liter of water per day.
Causes Of Increased Water Intake
There are so many things that can cause your dog to have an increased thirst. These can be broken down into normal, benign situations, medical, and behavioral reasons. Don’t forget to check for the obvious. Was it a hot sunny day? Did your dog just get done running or playing? Could your dog be pregnant? Is your dog nursing new pups? The reasons for increased water intake can be many. The problem is not knowing exactly why which is why a visit to your local vet might be needed.
Normal Reasons For Increased Water Intake
Normal reasons your dog may drink more water includes increased activity, increased outside temperature, and eating salty foods. Additionally, if you have a female dog who just had puppies, she will naturally drink a lot of water due to lactation needs.
Another normal reason your dog may have increased thirst is if they are taking certain medications. Whenever your dog is prescribed a medication make sure you discuss with your vet what the possible side effects of the medicine could be.
Here is a list of medications that can cause increased thirst in dogs:
- Steroids (prednisone, prednisolone) – used to treat allergies, immune conditions
- Phenobarbital – an anti-seizure medication
- Furosemide (Lasix) – used in dogs with heart failure
- Prescription foods that help get rid of urinary crystals, such as Hill’s s/d & Royal Canin s/o
Medical Conditions For Increased Water Intake
If your dog is drinking more than normal for no apparent reason and their activity level has been the same, you should seek out veterinary care as soon as possible. There are many important medical reasons why a dog may drink more water than usual. Never ignore the problem for too long, as it could cause the condition to worsen and be harder to treat.
Behavioral Reasons For Increased Water Intake
Some dogs will drink a lot of water due to behavioral disorders, boredom, or obsessive compulsive disorders. There is also a rare condition in dogs called psychogenic polydipsia. Dogs with this disorder tend to drink a lot of water for no apparent reason other than they feel inclined to. This will in turn make them have to urinate a lot.
What Health Problems Can Be A Sign Of Excessive Thirst?
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of medical conditions that can cause increased thirst in dogs.
Here is a list of some of the more common ones:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Diabetes Insipidus
- Kidney disease and failure
- Liver disease and failure
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Cushing’s Disease
- Addison’s Disease
- Increased calcium levels in the body
- Infection anywhere in the body
- Hyperthyroidism (rare in dogs)
Because of the severity of some of these conditions, it is very important you take your pet to your local vet if you are concerned about their water intake. Your vet can do a thorough physical exam and recommend testing to rule out many of these conditions.
Try to bring in a fresh urine sample from your dog when taking them in for the appointment. That will likely be the first thing your vet will want to check. They can check your dog’s urine specific gravity to confirm whether or not they are drinking more than they truly should be. Your vet will also perform basic blood work on your dog, which can help rule out diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, increased calcium, and hyperthyroidism.
If all of these causes are ruled out, your pup may need to have more extensive testing done to see if Cushing’s Disease, Addison’s Disease, or cancer could be an underlying cause of their increased thirst.
What Not To Do If Your Dog Is Excessively Thirsty
Even though your dog may be drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating in the house, never restrict your dog’s access to water. If your dog has one of the medical conditions listed above, limiting your dog’s ability to drink water could put them in a life-threatening situation.
Many of the conditions that cause your dog to drink a lot, do so because your dog is unable to retain fluid and is constantly urinating it out. Their bodies must make this loss of fluid up by drinking more. If you restrict their access to fresh water, they can become very dehydrated, even in a short amount of time.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Excessive tiredness
- Seeking water from any source
- Dry gums
- Tough skin, loss of skin elasticity
- Thick saliva that is mucousy
What You Can Do To Help Your Thirsty Dog
First, make an appointment with your local veterinarian to rule out treatable medical conditions. Keep fresh water available easily accessible to your dog at all times. Take your pet outside as often as you can during the day so they can relieve themselves.
If you are unable to take them outside frequently and they do not have access to a doggie door, keep them confined to an area of the house that is easy for you to clean up. This may mean keeping them in the kitchen area or wherever there is no carpet they may urinate on.
Some dogs take to potty pads fairly well and using them can make clean up much easier for you. If your dog is ultimately diagnosed with one of the medical conditions, treatment may or may not solve the symptoms of increased thirst and urinations right away. You may have to make these lifestyle adjustments regardless in the meantime.
Leslie Brooks graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis to do an intensive one-year internship at a specialty practice and then began working as a small animal general practitioner. She ran her own house call practice for three years, visiting pets in people’s homes. Currently, she works part time in clinical practice and volunteering her free time to serve pets of the homeless. Read more about us here.