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Causes of Increased Drinking in Dogs

Updated on February 5, 2016

What's Causing My Dog to Drink More?

Causes of Increased drinking in dogs
Causes of Increased drinking in dogs | Source

How Much Do Dogs Normally Drink?

If you recently noticed your dog drinking lots of water, you are right to be concerned and may be wondering about possible causes of increased drinking in dogs. The medical term used to depict increased drinking is ''polydipsia," coming from the Greek word poly, which means"many' and dypsia, which means thirst. There are several potential causes of increased drinking in dogs, but before tackling the list of medical issues associated with polydipsia, it may be helpful to determine how much drinking is considered too much. So how much is too much?

A good rule of thumb is to consider that generally, a dog will consume about 2.5 times the amount of water, as its daily intake of food, according to the Veterinary and Aquatic Services of Drs. Foster & Smith. This would mean that if say your dog consumed two pounds of dry dog food you would expect him to drink about five pounds of water. If you are wondering how much that is exactly consider that there are eight pounds of water in one gallon.

To put it into a different perspective, an average dog generally drinks an ounce of fluids per pound of body weight per day, therefore, a dog weighing 10 pounds will need a little bit more than a cup of water daily, according to WebMD. If you have a hard time tracking how much water your dog is consuming each day, you can try to refill your dog's water bowl at approximately the same time each day with the same exact amount of water, so you can therefore then subtract the amount left in the bowl after 24 hours.

Make sure your dog has only access to water in the water bowl: it is not unusual that some dogs like to also drink from the toilet bowl or from dripping faucets! Some may also decide to drink from puddles and water dripping from a leaky gutter.

Generally, dog owners are the best predictors of the development of any unusual drinking patterns. If you know on average how much your dog drinks usually and find yourself filling up that water bowl more and more without finding a good reason for it, it is a good idea to play it safe and have your dog seen by a veterinarian.

Causes of increased drinking in dogs
Causes of increased drinking in dogs | Source

Non Medical Causes of Increased Drinking in Dogs

When it comes to excess drinking, there are several factors to consider. Consider for instance the dog's activity level: has your dog been exercising more lately? Is he spending more time outdoors? Consider outdoor and indoor temperatures: has the weather been getting warmer? Is the air in your home too dry? Consider diet: are you feeding foods with more sodium? Have you switched to dry kibble lately? Are you feeding treats that make your dog more thirsty?

Consider also the administration of certain medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone have a well known reputation for increasing drinking and urination. Diuretics, such as Furosemide, are not known as ''water pills'' for no reason. Dog seizure medications such as phenobarbital also have a reputation for increased drinking and increased appetite. Look under the list of side effects of your dog's medications to see if there are chances they may be the culprit.

Life changing events such as lactating a litter of puppies, can also considerably increase drinking up to two or three times the normal amount, and puppies are also notoriously known for being avid drinkers.

Unless you have obvious signs that these potential causes are inducing your dog to drink lots of water, your best bet is to have your dog examined by a veterinarian just to be on the safe side. Your vet will get at the root cause of your dog's increased thirst so the issue can be targeted properly. In the next paragraph, we will take a look at some causes of increased drinking in dogs.

Medical Causes of Excessive Drinking in Dogs

So your dog has been drinking more than usual and it's not that hot outside, your dog's activity level is the same as always, your dog isn't eating particularly salty foods --think hot dogs--and you haven't indirectly added extra sources of fluids to his diet such as canned foods, raw diets or frozen treats such as ice cubes or dog ice pops. There are several dog health conditions that may cause dogs to drink excessively. Most likely, dogs affected by polydipsia, will also be affected by ''polyuria'', the medical term for excessive urination. After all, what goes in eventually comes out! In some cases, dogs may drink so much they may not be able to contain themselves and may have accidents inside the home. This, is also a sign something is not in the norm. Following are some of the most common medical causes that may be causing your dog to drink a lot of water. Notice how many times the increased desire to drink, is the body's reaction to the accumulation of harmful substances in the body.

  • Diabetes

Yes, dogs get diabetes too even though they aren't that crazy about eating sweets. Dogs may get two types of diabetes; diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus is far more common than insipidus in dogs. Affected dogs may lose weight, despite having a good appetite, and they may drink more and urinate more. Thirst and drinking more is caused by high blood glucose levels and the body's attempt to decrease their concentration.

  • Kidney Failure

When kidney failure takes place, these bean-shaped organs are no longer able to remove waste and concentrate urine. This causes a need for more and more water to excrete waste. Affected dogs will increase their consumption of water, to prevent toxins from accumulating in the bloodstream, but unfortunately, a point will arrive where no amount of water will suffix anymore to decrease the build-up of toxins.

  • Liver Failure

The liver is an amazing organ that has the capability to regenerate when it's damaged, but up to a certain point. When more than 70 percent of it is damaged, the liver fails and can no longer regenerate, according to Vet Info. Because the liver can no longer assimilate toxins, these toxins end up in the dog's body. The dog's body may react with increased drinking to prevent toxins from accumulating in the blood stream, the eyes, tongue, or gums may appear yellow from the accumulation of bilirubin (jaundice) and there may be weight loss as well.

  • Cushing's Disease

This condition occurs because of excessive cortisol circulating in the bloodstream. Affected dogs drink excessively, urinate excessively and even may develop incontinence. Dogs may also have a ravenous appetite, their abdomen has a pot-bellied appearance, there may be hair loss and other skin problems. The excessive drinking in this case, may be the body's reaction to prevent too much cortisol from accumulating in the body.

  • Addison's Disease

This condition is triggered by the immune system which damages the adrenal glands causing them to produce too little hormones that are responsible for maintaining the balance of sodium, potassium and water. Increased drinking and increased urination are rarely the main, primary symptoms, but they have been reported, according to Dr Mark Peterson and Dr. Peter Kintzer. In this case, the increased thirst and urination, may be the dog's body way of dealing with unbalanced electrolytes.

  • Hypercalcemia

In this case, too much calcium is being produced. The dog's kidneys perceive these high calcium levels and attempt to flush them out in the urine causing increased thirst and urination. However, with time, calcium buildup in the kidneys may promote kidney failure. Causes of hypercalcemia include tumors, Addison disease, vitamin D poisoning and sometimes a real cause cannot be found.

  • Infections

Any infections that causes an elevation in body temperature (fever) may cause a dog to feel more thirsty.

  • Psychogenic water drinking

At times, increased drinking behaviors may stem from a behavioral problem. This can be seen in dogs that were neglected and then drink excessively when water is presented as a form of compensation, and soon, the behavior becomes a habit. Dogs who compete over resources, may drink the whole water bowl just to prevent access to other dogs. Dogs that are stressed may drink water as a displacement behavior.

  • Fever

When a dog's body temperature rises, its body is trying to fight off the illness. With a high temperature though, cells are depleted from vital water. In humans, sweating is often seen with a fever, in dogs, they may pant and get dehydrated and this may trigger increased thirst. It's important to ensure the dog stays well hydrated and that a cause for the fever is identified and steps are taken to lower the dog's fever.

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea

It's quite normal for dogs to feel thirsty after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea or both. It's the body's natural way to re-hydrate itself. In the case of vomiting though, owners must be careful not to allow the dog to gulp up too much water at once; something that could further upset the stomach in the delicate phase of recovery and cause further vomiting. Ice cubes are a good way to allow the dog to re-hydrate slowly.

These are actually only a few of the many health causes that may be causing your dog to drink a lot of water. It may be quite frustrating to sort through all the possible medical causes and several diagnostic exams may be needed at times in order to go to the direct culprit. Generally, in most cases, a blood chemistry panel, urinalysis and complete blood cell count, will suffix to rule out several conditions and confirm the potential cause.


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      Julie Brankovic 2 weeks ago

      I have just got a German Sheppard puppy,she is 8 weeks old all she does is drink heaps and pees alot she when I take her out side all she does is just lays down I'm outside with her for a long time as soon as she comes inside she will pee or poop inside,take out side again nothing back inside again pees or poop, she doesn't play much and whimpers slot.

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      Marlene Clarke 5 weeks ago

      My dog is a 10 year old male , and has increased his water intake and has urinated a couple of times in the house (never did that before) his nose seems to be dry also. Used to be impatient for his breakfast, now takes a couple of hours to eat it. Also burps a lot since a couple of years. ???

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 weeks ago from USA

      Gulping too much water at once can cause vomiting in dogs. You need to find the underlying cause with the help of your vet if there's no logical reason for the thirst (heat, exercise).

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      Barb 6 weeks ago

      My dog is drinking a lot of water. She is also throwing up liquid that looks like water

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      JQGus 9 months ago

      Check the salt content of the food and treats you give your dog. Also, if your dog is taking Rimadyl, excessive drinking and urination (among other things) are side effects! Check with your vet.