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If you spend a lot of time with your dog, you may know their habits, including when they take their naps, how fast they eat, and how much water they drink daily. Most pet parents can gauge how much their dog drinks by how often they fill up their water bowls. However, some pets have fountains that make it difficult for you to determine if your dog is getting enough or drinking too much water throughout the day. Sometimes you might wonder, "Why is my dog drinking so much water?"
People and dogs drink water when they're thirsty, but if you notice Fido drinking more water than usual, it could indicate a serious health problem. However, there are many causes for excessive thirst in dogs, so the key is to figure out why your dog is thirsty and when it's time to consult a vet.
- How Much Water Should A Dog Drink?
- Non-Illness Related Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Thirstier
- Medical Reasons That Can Cause Excessive Thirst
- Is Your Dog Drinking Too Much Water?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Notes
How Much Water Should A Dog Drink?
How much water a dog drinks depends on their weight and other lifestyle factors. For example, a working dog on a farm would likely need more water than the same breed of dog that lives in a home and gets little physical activity outside of a daily walk. Most dogs should drink one ounce of water (⅛ cup) per pound of body weight every day.1 If they drink a little more or less than this, it's usually not something to worry about. However, if you notice your dog drinking considerably less or more water for many days in a row, it could indicate a health problem, so monitoring their water intake is essential.
Non-Illness Related Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Thirstier
Not all thirsty dogs drink lots of water because they're ill. Instead, there are many non-illness-related causes for excessive thirst in dogs. If you're wondering why your dog is drinking a lot of water, it could be due to lifestyle factors, diet, and activity.
Common non-illness-related causes of excessive thirst in dogs include:
- Hot weather: If your dog drinks a lot of water, they might be trying to cool down and rehydrate. When the weather is warmer outside, people and pets drink more water because they lose water faster. While your dog doesn't necessarily sweat like you do, they lose water in other ways, such as through panting or the glands in their paw pads.
- Increase in activity and exercise: When you go to the gym, you drink more water throughout the day than when you sit on your couch; the same concept applies to your dog. When dogs are more active, they need to replenish with water more often.
- Diet (dry food): Dry food doesn't contain much moisture, and some commercial dog foods are salty, making dogs drink more water than if they ate a wet food diet.
- Panting: Dogs pant for many reasons, mainly to keep themselves cool by releasing heat and capturing cooler air. Additionally, dogs may pant from excitement or stress or when experiencing pain. Since panting can dry the mouth and tongue, your dog may drink more water when they pant more.
- Medications: Some medications can lead to thirst in dogs, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and seizure medications, which may result in excessive thirst and urination.1
- Pregnancy or Lactation: Getting enough water is vital for pregnant or lactating dogs, which need more water per pound.
Medical Reasons That Can Cause Excessive Thirst
If you notice your dog drinking slightly more water than usual, it's likely not cause for concern, especially if the behavior is short-term. However, if your dog drinks a lot of water and starts displaying new behaviors or symptoms of illness, consult a vet to have them examined. Common medical reasons that contribute to excessive thirst in dogs include:
Polydipsia isn't technically an illness. Rather, it's a symptom of many conditions like kidney infections, diabetes, and Cushing's disease.2 Polydipsia refers to excessive thirst in dogs, and there are many possible causes. Additionally, this symptom is typically associated with polyuria, increased urination. Diabetes is often treated with insulin therapy, dietary changes, a weight loss program, and close monitoring.
Kidney disease in dogs is fairly common and comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease occurs due to toxins or injuries, while chronic kidney disease occurs over an extended time. Chronic kidney disease is irreversible and progressive.3
Symptoms of kidney disease in dogs include:
- Excessive thirst
- Change in frequency of urination
- Loss of interest in activities
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Blood in urine4
This potentially fatal disease is treated depending on the severity of the condition and the cause. Treatment options include:
- Fluid therapy
- Medication to reduce symptoms
- Blood pressure management4
Kidney disease is a life-threatening illness and must be treated by a vet.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
If your dog is drinking a lot of water, it could indicate a urinary tract infection. Dog urinary tract infections can affect the kidneys, bladder, and urethra, developing when harmful bacteria enter through the urethra. UTIs are more common in female dogs, but they can happen to any dog regardless of sex. These painful infections are often accompanied by:
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Straining or pain during urination
- Licking around the genitals
It's important to note that UTIs do not typically clear up on their own and require treatment in the form of antibiotics.
Diarrhea & Vomiting
GI upset symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting can make your dog dehydrated because they're losing water faster than they normally would. Diarrhea and vomiting have many causes ranging from dietary indiscretion and a change in diet to allergies, parasites, and infections.5
Some instances of diarrhea and vomiting are not medical emergencies, especially if you recently changed your dog's food.
However, since diarrhea and vomiting can indicate a more serious health concern, like poisoning and infections, it's important to monitor your dog. If they continue to vomit or have diarrhea over a period of a few hours, take them to the vet immediately.
Treatment for diarrhea and vomiting in dogs depends on the cause. For example, dogs that have diarrhea due to infections or parasites will need treatment for the primary illness to get rid of the secondary symptoms. If you’re monitoring your dog at home, provide them with a bowl of fresh drinking water to keep them hydrated.
Dog diabetes occurs when your pet has insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. Insulin deficiency is more common in dogs and occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin. Excessive thirst is just one of the many common symptoms associated with diabetes, but other symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
Cushing's disease in dogs is often characterized by excessive thirst and urination. In many cases, this disease is pituitary-dependent and triggered by a tumor on the pituitary gland, but it can also be adrenal-dependent.6
Symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs include:
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Increased appetite
- Heat intolerance
- Muscle weakness
Treatment for Cushing's disease may include medications to control symptoms, surgery to remove the tumor, or radiation therapy.
Pyometra is an infection due to hormonal changes in intact female dogs.7 These uterine infections develop after a dog has finished their heat cycle and continues to have elevated hormones. When a dog has multiple cycles without getting pregnant, the uterine lining can secrete fluids that lead to the growth of bacteria.7
Symptoms of pyometra include:
- Lack of appetite
- Distended abdomen
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Vaginal discharge
If you suspect your dog has a pyometra, get them to a veterinarian immediately for treatment, as pyometras are fatal if not treated. A pyometra is often treated by surgically removing the uterus, which carries more risk when a dog has an infection than when they're healthy and spayed.
Is Your Dog Drinking Too Much Water?
Sometimes it may seem like your dog is drinking too much or not enough water, but are you effectively tracking their water intake? Knowing how much water your dog drinks regularly can help you determine when they're drinking too much. Here are a few ways you can track your dog's water intake:
- Consider activity level: More active dogs will naturally drink more water, so if your dog spent all day playing outside, they're likely to drink more water throughout the day.
- Give the same amount of water: Giving your dog the same amount of water at the same times throughout the day can help you gauge how much your dog is drinking. If you notice their bowl is empty more than usual, you'll know they're drinking more.
- Track leftover water at the end of the day: Knowing how much water is left at the end of the day can help you determine the amount of water your dog drinks.
- Skin elasticity test: The skin elasticity test can help determine if your dog needs more water. You can lift the skin at the back of the neck and let it go to see how quickly it falls back into place. If your dog's skin doesn't go back down immediately and instead forms a tent, it could indicate dehydration.8
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you be concerned about the amount of water your dog is drinking?
If you've been accurately tracking your dog's water intake and notice they've been drinking more water than usual for a prolonged period, it may be time to take them to the vet. Of course, you should also know external or lifestyle factors that could cause them to drink more. For example, dogs will drink more during the summer months to rehydrate. However, if your dog displays any symptoms of illness, they should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
Drinking too much water can be dangerous to dogs, leading to a condition known as water intoxication in which your dog drinks too much water. Since water intoxication is as dangerous as dehydration, it's important to know how much water your dog should consume every day.
How to get your dog to drink more water?
Many dogs are good at taking care of themselves, but some dogs may not get enough water throughout the day. A few ways to get your dog to drink more water include:
- Adding water to dry food
- Changing to a wet food diet
- Let them play with ice cubes
- Buy a drinking fountain
How much water is too much for dogs?
The amount of water every dog needs depends on several factors, so how much water is too much for your dog depends on their individual needs. In general, dogs should drink one cup of water for every ten pounds of weight. Depending on your dog's diet and activity levels, they may need to drink more or less than that.
There are many reasons why dogs drink a lot of water, and in some cases, there's no cause for concern. However, if your dog experiences excessive thirst, urination, or any other symptoms, they should be examined by a vet. Since excessive thirst is often one of the first noticeable signs of illness in dogs, having your pet examined by a vet as soon as possible can help them diagnose and treat diseases faster.
Wondering why your dog is drinking so much water? Ask a Dutch vet. We can diagnose illnesses that cause excessive thirst in pets, allowing you to catch diseases before they affect your dog's quality of life. Try Dutch today.
“How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_the_importance_of_water.
Reisen, Jan. “Is Your Puppy Drinking Enough Water?” American Kennel Club, 21 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/puppy-drinking-enough-water/.
Fitzgerald, Dr. Kevin. “Kidney Disease in Dogs.” American Kennel Club, 20 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/kidney-disease-in-dogs/.
“Kidney Problems in Dogs: Kidney Failure, Kidney Disease, and More.” WebMD, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/kidney-problems-in-dogs.
“Dog Diarrhea: Treatment, Causes & Remedies.” American Kennel Club, 21 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/doggie-diarrhea/.
Commissioner, Office of the. “Treating Cushing's Disease in Dogs.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/treating-cushings-disease-dogs.
“Pyometras: Infection of Dog's Uterus.” Veterinary Medicine at Illinois, https://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet-health-columns/pyometra-infection-dogs-uterus/.
“Does Your Dog Have a Drinking Problem?” Halifax Humane Society, https://www.halifaxhumanesociety.org/Does-Your-Dog-Have-a-Drinking-Problem--1-14.html.