Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/26/2017Updated: 10/22/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Psychogenic Polydipsia?

Polyuria and polydipsia, what is known as increased urination and increased drinking, can be indicative of a serious medical issue such as diabetes.  However, in some cases, diagnostic tests may be performed in order to rule out all possible diseases, and this may be determined to be a  behavioral problem known as psychogenic polydipsia.  

In healthy dogs who drink and urinate a lot, it can be due to boredom, lack of attention, or just because he likes drinking water.  In cases like this, there are options you can try to curb your dog’s behavior to decrease the water intake.  If you are able to find the reason behind your dog’s need to drink a lot of water, such as boredom, and you address it properly, his prognosis of recovery is good.

If your dog drinks a lot and urinates often, it may be a symptom of a medical issue.  If your dog has this behavior, take him to his veterinarian for an evaluation.  Since it is generally not possible to tell if this problem is medical or behavioral without lab work, a visit to your veterinarian is best, regardless.  

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Symptoms of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

Symptoms of this condition are typically straightforward.  Symptoms include:

  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • May have urination accidents in the house

Other signs might include:

Weight loss


Vomiting or diarrhea

Loss of appetite


Psychogenic polydipsia involves your dog drinking excessively with no apparent cause or reason.  It means there is nothing actually systemically wrong with your dog; he is not sick, he is drinking excessive amounts of water.  It is thought this condition can be behavioral in origin.  The symptoms can be similar to diabetes or other illnesses your dog can develop, however, these conditions will need to be ruled out during the veterinarian’s diagnostic process.

Causes of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

It is believed this condition may be caused by your dog being bored, stressed, or simply because he enjoys drinking water.  This can be especially common in dogs who are young but can also be diagnosed in any dog of any age.

Diagnosis of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

To begin her diagnostic process, your veterinarian will begin by collecting a verbal history from you.  She will want to know when your dog’s symptoms started, if other pets in the household are experiencing similar symptoms, if and how his symptoms have progressed since starting, and any other details that may help with her diagnosis.  She will continue by performing a physical exam on your dog.  While his issue may be associated with him needing to urinate frequently she will want to check him over entirely in order to check for other simultaneous symptoms he may be experiencing.  She will note all of his symptoms as it will assist her with her diagnostic process.

Laboratory diagnostic testing will consist mainly of blood work and urine testing.  A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are typically the first blood work performed when doing diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian will also want to collect a urine sample from your dog to perform a urinalysis.  This will provide more information on kidney and bladder function.  These tests can confirm or rule out kidney dysfunction which can be caused by a variety of illnesses.  

To diagnose if your dog has psychogenic polydipsia, your veterinarian may want to perform a random serum osmolality test.  In theory, dogs with this condition are typically over hydrated with low serum sodium concentration and low serum osmolality.  She may perform this test multiple times to check for changes with and without water restriction.

The urinalysis may need to be repeated, as well.  In a dog with kidney issues or diabetes, the urine is typically very unconcentrated.   However, in a case of psychogenic polydipsia, urine concentration will be re-established with water restriction alone.  This proves the kidneys are working fine; your dog is simply over hydrated.

Additional testing may be conducted to rule out or confirm other systemic illnesses your veterinarian suspects your dog is experiencing.

Treatment of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

Once your dog is properly diagnosed and the cause is known, treatment can begin, based on your veterinarian's recommendations.  

For a dog that is bored, more exercise is the best treatment.  This may mean you need to take him out on walks more frequently.  They do not necessarily have to be long walks, just something to break up his day.  You may also want to consider enrichment for your dog as a way to keep his mind busy.  Many breeds of dogs get very bored very quickly but human owners are busy and may not have time to physically exercise their dog more.  

Using enrichment exercises their brain and keeps them occupied.  You can make homemade enrichment for your dog or there are many types you can purchase online.  They can be in a toy form where they have to manipulate the toy to get the treat, or dig through his entire toy box to get to the bottom where you hid his favorite toy.  Another option can be a puzzle feeder for his food.  Your dog has to manipulate the toy feeder until it drops out pieces of food.  This can keep your dog busy anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more.  Then, of course, you can do something simple like hide pieces of treats around your home while you are gone.  It gives him something to look for and find as he wanders around your home. 

If your dog wants more attention, then you have to either give it to him or find other ways to occupy him.  This can also include more exercise and mental enrichment for your dog.  If his condition is simply because he really likes water you can attempt to restrict his water intake.  You must be careful with this however, as you do not want to unintentionally cause your dog to become dehydrated.  Young dogs and puppies especially really enjoy drinking water, but they need it as they are more active and have higher metabolisms than older dogs.

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Recovery of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs

Once you have a diagnosis and establish the source of your dog’s psychogenic polydipsia and address it properly, his prognosis of recovery is good.  Simply offering him the attention he desires and keeping him occupied may be enough to curb his drinking out of boredom habit.  It may take a few months to find something he likes enough to keep his brain stimulated and decrease is water intake, but with persistence you will be able to change his behavior.  If you are patient and work with your dog, prognosis is good.

Psychogenic Polydipsia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Labrador Retriever, Akita, English Bull Mastiff




11 Years


21 found this helpful


21 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Obsession With Drinking Water
We have an 11 year old Lab/Akita/English Bull Mastiff mix male neutered dog. About 8 months ago he started peeing in our utility room right in front of the washer on a throw rug but only at night. He's 119 lbs so he pees a lot! At first, it wasn't happening every night but most nights. Now it is nearly every night. We also noticed he would stay at his water bowl for long periods lapping up water, to the point where we couldn't figure out why. He never peed in the house before, he's always been a good dog but now he was doing such odd things like getting into the garbage although we have the trash can up high where he can reach it. He would also pull things off the counter in our absence, like an entire loaf of bread and eat it. One morning I woke up to blood all over my house-- it looked like a murder scene. My son had thrown away in our recyling container an empty tuna can that had been washed out. Our dog, Rex some how got the tuna can out of the garbage and took it to his bed cushion and licked it and tore it open with his teeth so much that it must have cut his nose and tongue. Then he began in pursuit of water as he had licked his bowl so dry that there was blood in the bottom of it. He went to both bathrooms looking to get water from the toilets but we keep the lids closed, and Rex licked the outside of the toilet bowl-- I guess looking for consensation droplets. There was blood drips all over the floors, all over the toilet bowls, the walls, we had to throw away his big bed because it was ruined with blood. There was blood on the floors and on and on. He's doing unusual things he never did before. He's always been such a good dog whom we've had since he was 6 weeks old, you could have left a steak on the table and he wouldn't have touched it previously. Of course, we took him to his Veterinarian right away and the doctor did all kinds of tests including a full panel that was sent to the University of Illinois School of Veterinarian Medicine. They found nothing. His doctor said his urine looked very dilute-- so he was drinking too much water. We have tried everything with him and he really seems to have a pychological attachment to water. Nothing has changed, his diet is the same, his walking routine is the same, the only thing that has changed has been his attachment to water, and he pees in the same spot on the utiliy room floor and only at night, never during the day. I am going to the pet store today and get him some mind actiity ​toys and see if possibly this will help. Thanks for all your great comment.s

Sept. 16, 2018

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2 Years


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Drinks A Lot Of Water At One Time
I adopted a dog about 1 1/2 years ago. She was 15 mos. old and was a owner surrender pet. I think she has anxiety issues because when I first got her she wouldn't leave my side. She would follow me around everywhere. She pees anywhere she feels like it -- even when I'm looking at her (being inside my house). When I first got her she didn't drink a lot of water. I would say just normal. Lately, she waits till I come home from work and just before I feed her she drinks a lot of water. Almost the whole bowl. I have two dogs the other one is 11 and not an issue. They have a doggie door and she uses it. I do notice when I'm home on the weekends and she goes out. She runs in and out to make sure I'm still home. I just need her to stop peeing in the house. I give here as much attention as I can but sometimes she just gets so excited she just pees while she's looking at me. It's not the excited pee when you pet a dog and they're excited. This happens after I've stopped giving her attention. Is there some kind of treatment I can give her?

Aug. 9, 2018

2 Recommendations

We have a few training guides linked below which cover urination and stopping it indoors, I would start with some training since this does sound more behavioural than medical but you should also visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine whether it is something more serious like spay incontinence, hormonal conditions or another cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 10, 2018

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