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What is Sick After Drinking Water?

There are many reasons that 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 then it is understandable, but if it is happening all the time then it is an issue.  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

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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 as well.


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 try to vomit them back up after drinking. 

Gastrointestinal Blockage 

If your dog is a stone carrier type, it can often result in the swallowing of a stone (or object) at some point in time. This object can cause the water to be ejected because it cannot get to the stomach. 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. But even a partial blockage or growth of polyp can cause unusual behavior.

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 (but with clean water allowed) followed by a bland diet of white meat, fish and 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 specialist will find the source and treat accordingly. It is better to take your pet to the specialist 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.

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. Some dogs slurp as if the water was going out of fashion so they can get back and play, so slowing them down will allow the body processes to cope. 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.

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.

Sick After Drinking Water Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Siberian Husky
2 Months
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


We brought my 2 month old female husky home yesterday and she seemed fine, she drank water like it was going out of style but didn’t really seem to have too much of an appetite. Today however she has been sleeping most of the day and wakes up long enough to have diarrhea, urinate or vomit. It’s now 3 am, I got her pedialyte and some organic purée pumpkin but she still won’t eat and when she finally takes a few laps of the pedialyte she starts heaving and vomits up the little bit she just drank. We are going to the vet in the morning but I’m still wide awake with worry. Any thoughts on what could be wrong?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
675 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Ammy isn't feeling well. Puppies are susceptible to a few things - parasites, intestinal blockages, and infectious disease like Parvo virus are a few. Because she isn't eating, is vomiting and have diarrhea, and is lethargic, she should definitely be seen as soon as possible. I'm not sure what time your veterinarian opens on Sunday, but if it isn't for a few hours, you might want to consider taking Ammy to your nearest 24 hour clinic that is open now. Puppies can become dehydrated quickly, and sometimes a few hours makes a difference. The veterinarian will be able to examine her, analyze a stool sample and probably run a test for Parvo virus, and will be able to advise you on the best treatment for her. I hope that everything goes well for her today.

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5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Throwing up

My Chihuahua has been throwing up after drinking water.She eats fine and is playful but once she drinks water which seems lately she has been very thirsty she gets sick.I did take her to the vet and they gave me a dewormer for intestional parasites and it did work for about two weeks and now she is throwing up again but yet she seems like her normal spunky I don't understand what could be going on.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
675 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Lola isn't feeling well. Since I can't examine her, I can't diagnose what may be going on, but it would be worth a recheck with your veterinarian to have some blood work done and make sure that she is okay. I hope that everything goes well for her!

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4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Throwing up after drinking water

Our 4 yr old English mastiff has started throwing up after drinking water. He is fine with food but once he drinks a little water, all of it come back up. Took him to the vet and they ran tests.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
675 Recommendations
Thank you for your question. Without more information, I can't comment on what may be happening with Huck, but if your veterinarian has run some tests, I am sure that they will be able to figure out what is happening, and how to treat it. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Please help me my 9 month old pit bull is having the same problem he eats fine is extremely playful and energetic but as soon as he drinks water he throws up!!!! Did anybody find out what this means ?!!?!??

I have the same thing going on with my Chihuahua.Shes her normal spunky self,lots of energy,eats good but then when she drinks water everything comes right back up.I took her to the vet and was given a dewormer for intestinal parasites and she was totally fine for 2-3 weeks and now shes back to throwing up after she drinks her water....Gonna make another appointment with vet...Did anything get tooken care of at vet for your dog Huck?Hope it wasn't anything serious...

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