What is Sick After Drinking Water?

There are many reasons why your dog may be sick after drinking water. It can be as simple as drinking their water too fast - especially on hot days or after some hectic play. If this only happens occasionally, there may be no cause for concern, but if it is happening all the time then there is likely an issue with your dog's health.  The sickness could be related to some disease, infection or condition that is affecting your dog’s health. These conditions could be related to the following.

  • Esophageal dysfunction
  • Bacteria from contaminated water 
  • Blue-green algae
  • Parasites including Giardia 
  • Gastrointestinal blockage

Why Sick After Drinking Water Occurs in Dogs

Esophageal Dysfunction 

A condition called megaesophagus is a rare condition that affects the esophagus when it fails to contract as it normally would, where it forces food and water along into the stomach. Due to a weakness in the muscles that fail to contract properly, water (and food) can build up in the throat, and as your dog drinks more, it causes a reflex action which ejects anything sitting in the esophagus.  

Bacteria From Contaminated Water 

While your dog’s bowl may look clean, if you haven’t washed it for days it can become contaminated (especially outdoor water bowls). Ponds and stagnant pools of water can contain contamination from animal or human waste, which contains bacteria including Salmonella, campylobacter and Leptospira and can cause your dog to vomit after drinking.  

Blue- Green Algae 

Stagnant ponds and pools of water can harbor all sort of nasty toxins and pollutants that may harm your dog, such as runoff from fertilizer used on the nearby paddocks. Another concern is the elevated level of toxic blue-green algae that may be present. Canals and small lakes are best to avoid as well, although it can be hard to stop an active dog from wanting to swim in them and possibly drink the water, as well.

Parasites 

These nasty species love living around water or may be in feces that have infected the waterway. Protozoans such as Giardia and cryptosporidium come to mind and can cause sickness. Usually, it shows as diarrhea, but your dog may be sensitive to these parasites and may vomit after drinking. 

Gastrointestinal Blockage 

If your dog eats objects that cannot be digested, these objects can cause vomiting. Usually, if this is the case, your dog will be looking quite sick, and you will notice him retching to try and remove the object. A partial blockage or growth of polyp can also cause this behavior.

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What to do if your Dog is Sick After Drinking Water

If your dog has esophageal dysfunction, your veterinarian will be able to advise on treatment for your dog. The muscles of the esophagus tend to fill with water or food which builds up, leading to problems getting the food to the stomach. Treatment is focused towards the management of the underlying disease. Hypothyroidism and myasthenia gravis are autoimmune neuromuscular diseases that are characterised by weakness within the muscles. Drugs can be administered to increase the movement of the muscle and antibiotics will be given for secondary aspiration pneumonia. While it is a rare congenital condition, it is worth mentioning just to be aware that it can be present.

Simple cases of bacterial infections often respond to a 24-hour withholding of food (with clean water allowed) followed by a bland diet of white meat, fish or chicken along with boiled white rice. It can take about three days for your dog to return to normal. But it is always advisable to check with your veterinarian as some bacterial infections are nasty and will need antibacterial medications to clear them up. Leptospira can result in liver and  kidney damage and death. 

Blue-green algae exposure needs immediate veterinary attention. While classed as a bacterium they deserve mention on their own since they produce colonies of blooms on the surface of ponds and pools of water, especially during the hot summer months. If your dog swims in the water, he may either get a few mouthfuls of bloom infected water or ingest it when he is grooming himself. Algae can produce vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, collapse and death- it is extremely serious. While there is no antidote for the toxin produced by the algae, the sooner you can get your dog to the veterinarian for supportive care the better the chance for survival. 

Parasitic control needs veterinarian assistance as your dog will require symptomatic treatment and medications that can hasten recovery. Most dogs will respond well to prompt treatment, supportive care and a course of antibiotics. 

Blockages need investigating whether it is an external source causing it (a stone or toy part) or whether it is disease tissue such as a growth. Your veterinarian will find the source and treat accordingly. It is better to take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as you can before it develops into a serious, life-threatening condition. Removal of the blockage will be done under anesthesia via surgical means, with supportive care after that.

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Prevention of Sick After Drinking Water

If your dog is being sick after drinking water, if he gulps his water in massive amounts, it can help to slow them down by putting ice cubes in the water bowl. If that doesn’t work, consider just giving your dog small rations of water at a time, but ensuring they do get all they need.  A good practice is to discourage dogs from drinking from puddles, ponds, swimming pools (because of the chemicals) and other stagnant sources of water. When you are out walking, take along a bottle of water for your dog so that he is not tempted to drink from other sources. Ensure your dog’s bowl is clean, and change the water daily.

If your dog is sick after drinking water, it could symptomatic of a serious medical condition. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Cost of Sick After Drinking Water

If your dog’s habits are making him sick such as gulping vast amounts of water, or over exerting before drinking, then there are no costs involved, just a bit of pet management. Other conditions such as megaesophagus, can cost between $500 and $6,000 depending on the severity of the condition (average cost $2500), while gastrointestinal blockages can range from $800 to $5000 with the average cost being $2500. Bacterial infection treatments range from $250 to $2000 with the average cost being $1,600.

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Sick After Drinking Water Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Labrador Retriever

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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17 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Drinking A Lot Of Water And Moping Around

He keeps drinking water walks away and streets drinking more. He went outside and hid and threw up a little bit

March 6, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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17 Recommendations

Hello, some dogs will drink a lot of water and then vomit shortly after from just drinking too fast. She could also have GI issues and would need to see your vet for prescription nausea medication such as cerenia. For dogs that are vomiting, you can also try chicken and rice to help calm her stomach.

March 6, 2021

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Siberian Husky

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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9 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Mix breed possibly with Mara-mar. Having bowel and bladder incontinence episodes after being outside and going each time several times throughout the day. Unusually soft stool but doesn’t look any different than what’s normally been passed before. Drinks quite a bit of water but lately has been unable to keep most if not all of it from coming back up. He’s very athletic and outgoing but I haven’t been able to get any weight on him he’s practically all skin and bones in his back area.

Feb. 24, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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9 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. These signs are very concerning and could have multiple causes including a neurological disease, infection, kidney failure etc. A vet visit is important to check him over and run some tests such as a blood and urine test. We can then start the most appropriate treatment.

Feb. 24, 2021

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