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What is Drinking a Lot of Water?

Dogs will typically drink because they are thirsty. In general, a dog should drink between 20 to 70 ml/kg per day. As with people, their body loses water and they drink to replenish what was lost. Should your dog seem to drink more than the usual amount of water or do so when not being more active than usual, it can be a sign of disease. There are multiple conditions where your dog’s body will not be able to regulate the loss of water even at normal temperatures. The water lost needs to be replenished, thus your dog will drink a lot. Conditions that may cause your dog to drink a lot of water include:

  • Kidney disease or kidney failure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Psychogenic polydipsia
  • In reaction to a medication

If your dog is drinking more than usual for his size and level of activity, how serious it is will depend on its cause. Some conditions, like diabetes mellitus will be serious and require significant treatment. In others, for example when the excessive drinking is due to a medication your dog is taking, it may be less of a concern.

Why Drinking a Lot of Water Occurs in Dogs

The reason for your dog drinking a lot will depend upon its cause. For example:

Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure

In kidney (also called renal) disease, the kidneys don’t work correctly which leads to their being unable to filter toxins out of the bloodstream as they would typically. This condition will lead to the water balance in your dog’s body being off, causing him to drink more.

In kidney (also called renal) failure, where the kidneys will no longer function, the condition can come on quickly or over a long period of time and may bring other complications with it. The acute form of the condition is usually the result of injury or your dog ingesting a toxic substance. Chronic kidney failure is more likely to occur in older dogs. Your dog’s kidneys will eliminate metabolic waste and create urine to flush the waste out. The blood that flows through your dog’s kidneys is filtered and there is a certain amount needed in the blood and an amount to be gotten rid of. 

When the kidneys are not working, the waste will build up, leading to an increase in thirst.

Treatment needs to be administered right away; typical early signs are an increase in thirst and increased urination. Your dog will drink excessive amounts of water because as the condition gets worse, his kidneys will not process toxins efficiently and more water will be needed to do the job. Despite the increase in urination, toxins won’t be eliminated as well as they had prior to the kidney disease.

Your dog may be susceptible to kidney disease as a result of underlying health issues or injury, among other reasons. 

Diabetes Mellitus

Also known as “sugar diabetes” the condition occurs when your dog’s body is struggling to connect his glucose and insulin, which are necessary for your dog’s health. When they are not working properly, diabetes is developed; the cause is your dog’s pancreas not producing insulin as it typically would. Without insulin, your dog’s body will not obtain the glucose his body requires. 

Cushing’s Disease

Clinically defined as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s disease is when your dog’s endocrine glands don’t keep the necessary balance of cortisol in his body. The origin of the condition is an unusual growth of tissue or trauma in either the pituitary or adrenal glands. In Cushing’s disease, the hormone cortisol will be over produced. Usually the hormone is in your dog’s system in low levels and will elevate during stress. Its role is to help suppress inflammatory signaling and increase your dog’s blood sugar. 

Psychogenic Polydipsia

While not common in dogs, psychogenic polydipsia is a behavioral condition where excess thirst will physically manifest itself.

In Reaction to Medication

Some medication will note an increase in thirst as a side effect.

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What to do if your Dog is Drinking a Lot of Water

Should you notice that your dog is drinking a lot, and is not taking a medication where that may be a side effect, you will want to contact your veterinarian right away. A full physical examination will be conducted and your veterinarian will ask you for information regarding any other symptoms and/or behavioral changes you have noticed in your dog. It is likely that your veterinarian will conduct blood testing to include a complete blood count and blood chemistry profile. In kidney disease, your dog will typically show high creatinine and blood urea nitrogen in his blood. Electrolytes will also be evaluated to look for the presence of phosphate. In diabetes, high levels of glucose are typically found in the blood. Your veterinarian will consider the liver enzymes of your dog in making a diagnosis. In Cushing’s disease, the blood may show a greater than normal SAP (serum alkaline phosphatase), and increased ALT, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and decreased BUN (blood urea nitrogen). A urine sample will likely be taken and analyzed for levels of glucose that are present; high levels of glucose can point to diabetes mellitus. If kidney disease is suspected, radiographs or ultrasound may be used to look more closely at the size of the kidneys and seek an underlying cause. In some cases, a biopsy will be necessary. 

If your dog’s test results do not show abnormalities, your veterinarian will consider psychogenic polydipsia. Based on the answers to his questions, he may also consider that your dog is drinking more water as a result of salty treats or significant activity.

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Prevention of Drinking a Lot of Water

It is important that you provide your dog with a healthy diet that provides him with the nutrients that he needs. Regular exercise is also important for him to maintain a healthy weight and overall health. An annual check-up will allow your veterinarian to notice any developing issues and address them right away.

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Cost of Drinking a Lot of Water

Treatment for this symptom can vary greatly in cost. In the case of kidney failure, costs can average around $7,000, while in Cushing’s disease the average is around $2,000. If your dog’s excessive drinking is due to a medication, there will likely be no treatment cost. Regardless of the condition, the cost will vary based upon where you live and your area’s cost of living.

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Drinking a Lot of Water Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lilah

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pitbull

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cushings Disease

Our dog does have cushings disease and we have noticed her water intake has increased. And that is all she wants to do is drink water. Is there anything we can do to help that

July 18, 2018

Lilah's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

An increase in thirst and urination is a typical symptom for a dog with Cushing’s Disease, however if managed appropriately the thirst should be controlled; the source of the thirst may be related or unrelated to the Cushing’s. There are many causes for an increase in thirst and you should visit your Veterinarian to determine the specific cause and manage as appropriate. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 18, 2018

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Roxy

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Saint Bernard cross leonberger

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Drinking And Peeing A Lot

My 4 month old saint Bernard cross leonberger seems to drink a lot when she's awake and goes to pee a lot too. Could this be because of her size, or more serious?

Dec. 31, 2017

Roxy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are various causes for an increase in thirst, but we have to know whether or not the amount consumed is physiological or not; a dog shouldn’t be really drinking more than an ounce per pound of water per day but this can vary according to diet, environment (temperature), underlying medical conditions (infections, Cushing’s, diabetes). You should monitor the water consumption per day and then discuss with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 31, 2017

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Diablo

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Boxer

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Disorientation

My boxer is drinking lots and lots of water and will not stop.took him to the vet and ran blood test and said he has kidneys issues. They gave us meds but now he is very disoriented and can't sit still for Mr than a few seconds

Oct. 15, 2017

Diablo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Disorientation may be caused by a medicine side effect or due to the kidney issues; it is difficult to determine what is happening, but if you are noticing this new symptom you should return to your Veterinarian for another check to see the progress of treatment and to see if there should be any changes to the treatment plan. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 15, 2017

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Zorro

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Siberian Husky

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Drinking Lots Of Water
Pees A Lot

My foster dog drinks a lot of water. I got the dog on January 6th. 6 months ago. He had an ultra sound. Kidneys normal. He had blood work. Not diabetic. He had the ach test for whate very that disease is, not Cushings but I think the same test. Normal. The only thing in the blood test that was abnormal was the lymphocytes were very high. He has a lot of enervy but I restrict it to one areason of the house because he doesn't always hold his pee and also pees in his cage occasionally. I've got a routine of when i give him water and when to let him out which helps but no adopter is going to want to do that. In addition, he can be food agressive, if in an inexperienced person's hands.

July 26, 2017

Zorro's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Addison’s Disease is the one you were looking for; if Zorro is clear of the usual possible suspects for an increase in thirst and urination, the other possible cause include pituitary gland tumour (adenoma), diet (some diets cause some dogs to drink more etc…), infections, sex hormone related, ectopic ureters (more commonly seen in females) and other causes. I understand your concerns as you are trying to get Zorro adopted and the increased workload would put many off, also it isn’t ideal for a dog not to have free access to water. It may be worth having a intravenous pyelogram to look for any anomalies in the ureters, urinary bladder or urethra. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Mika

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chihuahua mix

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Urination

15 lb chihuahua mix, 4 yrs old, has recently started drinking and urinating excessively. She is eating fine and has energy and good spirits. She has been diagnosed several years ago with bladder crystals, but not since then. Her appetite has increased. I found out she was eating mouthfuls of dirt with blood meal in it about two months ago.

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Emma

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Treeing Walker Coonhound

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Too Much Water

Emma is a rescue coonhound about 10 yr, 65 lbs. She has been with us for 2 years. She has been drinking a lot of water since we adopted her, and could hold urination for very long periods of time but recently has needed to get up during the night twice to go out, and still very thirsty (about 1.5 gallons a day, she's 65 lbs). Getting seemingly worse. Vet says urine is so clear that diagnosis is difficult and tried her on amoxicillin but didn't help. Emma seems normal otherwise. Not sure what to do. Taking her back to vet this week but not hopeful for diagnosis and treatment.

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C

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Portuguese Water Dog

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Lethargy
Thirst

My dog takes a lot of medication for seizures and as a side effect gets very thirsty. The problem is that when I give her water she doesn’t stop and just drinks the entire bowl until it’s dry. Is this a normal side effect or should I be concerned? There’s also the fact that she drinks all of the water in my other dogs bowl and leaves none for her. But that is a separate issue.

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C

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Portuguese Water Dog

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Thirst

My dog takes a lot of medication for seizures and as a side effect she is always thirsty and drinks so much. My problem is that she does not stop drinking when I fill her bowl. She drinks everything until the bowl is dry. Is this a normal side effect or should I be concerned? There’s also the fact that she drinks all the water in my second dogs bowl, but that’s a separate issue.

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Gizmo

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Chihuahua

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13 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bloated Big Belly Thirsty

My dog is a male and about 13 yrs old. Drinks a lot of water and pees a lot. I have to let him out almost every hr. He’s always hungry and never seem to get full. He has a big belly, bloated and staggers when walks. I started giving him probiotics for his bloating and flatulence. It helped a little bit. I often think that he drinks too much to make his stomach full and fill hunger. Today he vomited water after drinking too much.

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