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How to know when your pup’s thirst is a sign of a bigger problem
Proper hydration is an essential part of your dog’s health — and it’s important for him to drink plenty of water each day. But if you start to notice him gulping down more than usual or lapping up his entire bowl in one sitting, it’s understandable to become concerned.
Excessive thirst, also known in the medical world as polydipsia, is relatively common in dogs and could be caused by a number of factors including increased activity level, a particularly hot climate, or a new medication. However, it’s often a symptom of a more serious medical problem.
“Signs of increased thirst can be subtle and pets may not show any other signs of illness,” says Dr. David Dilmore, medical editor at Banfield Pet Hospital, which operates more than 1,000 veterinary hospitals across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. “Keep track of how often you fill up their water dish, and if it becomes more frequent, you should take your pet to see a veterinarian. A change in water consumption can be a sign of an underlying medical issue like kidney disease or diabetes.”
Is my dog drinking too much water?
“While every pet is unique, the general recommendation for a dog’s daily water consumption is around one ounce of water per pound of body weight, or approximately one cup per 10 pounds of body weight,” Dr. Dilmore says. While that’s a good general guideline, you should never limit your pooch’s access to water based on that amount, he says, as restricting water can lead to serious health issues like dehydration and overheating.
Additionally, keep in mind that needs can vary greatly from dog to dog, so it’s important to consider the factors that might impact your pup’s daily water intake, “including the type and amount of activity or exercise they’re getting, whether they eat dry or canned food, the temperature or humidity they’re exposed to, and more,” Dr. Dilmore says.
A good way to determine if your dog’s drinking is excessive is to pay close attention to his urination habits and whether or not he’s constantly searching for water. “You might notice your pet asking to go outside more often, or they might have accidents in the house that are atypical of their normal behavior,” Dr. Dilmore says. “They may also seek water from unusual sources around the house, like the toilet or outside pond.”
Why is my dog drinking lots of water?
One reason your dog might be guzzling more water than usual is dehydration, which can be very dangerous.
“Signs of dehydration that an owner might notice in their pet include lethargy, weakness, sticky or dry gums, sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity, depression, vomiting or diarrhea,” Dr. Dilmore says. If you notice these symptoms, you should get your pup to a vet, who can diagnose and determine the cause of dehydration.
Another possible cause of your pup’s increased thirst could be a medication. If he seems to be thirstier after starting new meds, alert your vet, who might be able to prescribe another option.
Finally, it’s likely there could be an underlying — and often serious — medical issue causing your dog’s thirst. The most common illnesses associated with excessive drinking are diabetes (which causes increased blood sugar), kidney disease (which causes a decrease in the kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine), and Cushing’s disease, a metabolic disorder where the body produces too much cortisol. Other less likely medical causes for excessive thirst can include electrolyte abnormalities, liver disease, and certain cancers or infections.
Your vet can determine if one of these diseases or conditions is causing your dog’s excessive thirst, and then he or she can help you move forward with a treatment plan that addresses the specific illness. Many of these ailments are more common in older pets — which is why excessive thirst and urination are therefore seen more in senior dogs — but they can happen at any age.
My Dog is Drinking a Lot of Water! Here’s what to do.
No matter what, don’t limit your pup’s access to water or restrict his intake. “Ensure fresh, clean, cool water is always available to your pet,” Dr. Dilmore says, especially when hiking or playing outside. If your dog drinks plenty of water throughout the walk or the romp at the dog park, he won’t need to guzzle as much as he can once he gets home.
Monitor the amount of water your pet is drinking on a daily basis, and if you’re still concerned that it’s higher than normal, get him to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. The vet can conduct a full examination to determine any underlying causes and begin treatment. Remember: a hydrated dog is a healthy dog, but drinking too much can signal a serious problem — so if you’re worried, it’s time to get your furry friend to the doc.