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What is Not Thirsty?

Dogs normally drink as needed without encouragement from you. However, you may notice that your dog has no interest in water. Often, when a dog will not drink or eat, this is a sign that something is definitely wrong. This is mostly true, as a dog that won’t eat or drink is usually sick. However, occasionally there are totally innocent reasons that your dog won’t drink. Several conditions can cause your dog to stop drinking water:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Other diseases such as pancreatitis
  • Other possible causes such as aging

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Why Not Thirsty Occurs in Dogs


Traditionally, diabetes is marked by excessive thirst along with weight loss and increased urination output. However, some dogs may lose interest in water and food. You may also notice urinary accidents in the house, vomiting, dehydration caused by taking in less water, and lethargy. Dogs of any breed may develop diabetes, but Miniature Schnauzers, Standard Schnauzers, Poodles, Australian Terriers, Spitz, Bichon Frise, Samoyeds, and Keeshonds are more likely to acquire diabetes compared with other breeds. In dogs, a genetic predisposition makes a dog more likely to develop diabetes than weight or exposure to certain drugs. 

Kidney Disease

Since the kidneys filter toxins out of the body, it stands to reason that when a dog is experiencing kidney disease or kidney failure that he or she will not be interested in water. While a dog with kidney disease normally drinks excessively, occasionally you will see a dog that does not care to drink water. Chronic kidney disease often shows few signs until the damage to the kidneys is significant, so it is best to stay on top of signs of kidney issues. In addition to changes in drinking water, your dog may experience pale gums, vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, and weight loss. Kidney disease can affect any breed of dog. 

Urinary Tract Infection

While all animals have some bacteria in the urinary tract, sometimes the bacteria can multiply and cause an infection. This is more common in older females, and some dogs with diabetes are more prone to UTIs. E.Coli (the same bacteria that can cause food poisoning in humans) is often the culprit of an infection of the urinary tract in a dog. Symptoms of infection include licking of the urinary opening, apparent difficulty in urinating, frequent small amounts of urine, cloudy or bloody urine that may or may not have an odor, incontinence, and lethargy. Any breed of dog may be susceptible to a urinary tract infection. 

Other Diseases Such as Pancreatitis

A number of diseases other than those listed can cause your dog to lose interest in water. Pancreatitis, parvovirus, or leptospirosis are just a few diseases that do so. With parvovirus, your dog will refuse to drink and may also be vomiting and experiencing diarrhea. Parvo can be deadly, so do not hesitate if you think your dog has the illness. Parvo is most common in young dogs who have not been fully vaccinated. Leptospirosis, also known as canine lepto, is most often present in rats, pigs, raccoons, cattle, fox, skunks, and opossums. However, the Leptospira bacteria can also infect your dog. Some dogs with lepto never show any symptoms; younger dogs are likely to be sick compared to their older counterparts. Infected dogs will present with fever, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and general lethargy. Pancreatitis occurs for a number of reasons, such as high levels of fat in the blood, high levels of calcium in the blood, some drugs or toxins, and trauma to the pancreas. Dogs experiencing pancreatitis often also have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, an increase in heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Pancreatitis can be successfully treated if it is caught in time.

Other Possible Causes Such as Aging

Some of the more “innocent” (not harmful) causes of a lack of thirst in your dog could be cooler weather, less opportunity to exercise, unfamiliar places or smells, and a negative experience or fear. If it is cooler, and your dog has not be out exercising in the heat, he may not need as much water as before to function normally. Aging can contribute to less need for water in dogs. A bad experience, such as someone stepping on your dog’s tail while at the water bowl, could cause him to fear the water bowl. Occasionally, if you are in an unfamiliar place, your dog will not drink because he is uncomfortable in a new area. Any and all breeds of dogs can experience these situations.

What to do if your Dog is Not Thirsty

First, rule out the other possible causes of a lack of thirst, such as cooler weather and less activity. If you suspect that aging is playing a part in the dog’s lack of thirst, you should make sure that no other age-related illnesses are affecting your dog. If you suspect some fear or bad experience is keeping your dog from drinking, switch the location of his bowl. You may also have to buy a new water bowl or waterer. If you believe that your dog is experiencing a health issue that is curbing his interest in water, then get him to the vet. Your vet will start by doing a urinalysis and blood work to rule out diabetes, kidney disease, or a urinary tract infection. Your vet may have to do an ultrasound to check for inflammation of the pancreas. If you suspect your dog might have parvovirus, time is of the essence. Get him to the vet immediately. A young dog can die from parvo within 72 hours.

Prevention of Not Thirsty

While diabetes can’t always be prevented, it is always a good idea to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. If you do see signs of diabetes in your dog, get him to the vet as soon as possible; early treatment is best for your dog. With kidney disease, remember, your dog likely won’t show signs until significant damage has been done to the kidneys. Regular vet trips in which the kidneys are routinely tested for proper function can help catch kidney disease in its early stages. Some causes of urinary tract infections can’t be prevented, but you can feed your dog a special diet if you have an idea that your dog might be susceptible to them.

Cost of Not Thirsty

Treating a lack of thirst in your dog can be expensive depending upon the cause of the problem. Treatment for a urinary tract infection can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the cost of living and the severity of the infection. On average, the cost to treat an infection of the urinary tract is $350.

Not Thirsty Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

lhaso apso
13 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

kidney, pancreaitis

The vet had my dog on SO for urinary for years this in turn caused her kidney/pancreitis. Then they tell me after charging hundreds to try a diff dry food she wouldn't eat. After some research I gave her cooked veg and low fat broth and low fat turkey links with she loves and its LOW FAT and LOW PROTEIN. I thought she was suddenly getting better, solid poop as well but now she does't drink? I cry each night, she is all I have and I don't trust the vets here they are inexperienced. She will drink broth but not water, I am so scared what shall I do? I am in the military and have to leave the country in two months

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2137 Recommendations
It is likely that Tiffany is getting sufficient hydration from the broth, it probably tastes much better than plain old water as well; check her gums and do a capillary refill test - press her gum until it goes white, let go and count the time until the blood returns; if it takes two seconds or longer she is likely dehydrated if it is shorter she probably is fine and is receiving adequate fluids from the broth. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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