Behavioral problems

My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. January 11, 2024
My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water

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It can be difficult to tell if your dog has excessive thirst. Many dogs will naturally drink a lot of water or at least lap a lot out of their bowl. When we look at the context, it can help us to know whether their drinking habits are abnormal. If they are drinking a lot of water on a hot day or do so after carrying out a lot of exercise, then it is likely they are simply replacing the fluids they have lost. If the dog is drinking a lot of water on a mild day while being sedentary, then it might be a sign of a health problem. Obsessive drinking may also be accompanied by other symptoms which can help us to determine the issue.

At AnimalWised, we find out why my dog drinks a lot of water. We look at how to determine whether they are drinking excessively, as well as what physical or behavioral problems may be leading to excessive thirst.

You may also be interested in: Why Do Cats Paw at Water?
  1. Is my dog drinking too much?
  2. Psychogenic polydipsia in dogs
  3. Symptoms of excessive thirst in dogs
  4. Reasons for psychogenic polydipsia in dogs
  5. Neurological disorders leading to drinking a lot
  6. Diseases and disorders
  7. What to do when a dog drinks a lot of water
  8. General tips for when a dog drinks a lot

Is my dog drinking too much?

To understand whether a their thirst is excessive, we need to look at normal drinking habits of dogs. A completely healthy dog requires a daily consumption of 70 ml of water for every kg of their weight. For example, a 10 kg dog will drink approximately 700 ml of water per day. If yours consumes a similar volume, you should not worry unless there are other symptoms.

While the above calculation provides an average amount of water a dog drinks in a day, each dog is an individual. There may be variations based on other factors such as their rate of metabolism and the amount of exercise they do. It is important to know what is normal for your dog, so you should speak to your veterinarian if you are at all unsure what is a healthy amount.

If it is determined that your dog drinks a lot of water in an unhealthy way, we should determine whether it is an obsessive behavior or a symptom of disease. We look at how to make this distinction in the sections below.

Psychogenic polydipsia in dogs

When a dog is drinking too much water, it is known as polydipsia. Psychogenic polydipsia occurs when the impetus to do drink excessively is of psychological origin. The dog does not physically have a biological need to drink water, but their brain is telling them this is the case. It is considered an obsessive behavior, something which is often known as a stereotypy. Stereotypies can be almost any repetitive behavior which serves no obvious purpose.

The harm these behaviors cause will depend on the type of compulsive behavior in dogs. For example, repetitive licking of the skin can cause the dog to develop a lick granuloma. Although dogs need plenty of hydration, excessive water consumption is bad for the dog. It can induce mild symptoms such as nausea, but prolonged excessive water drinking can cause heart failure.

If your dog is obsessed with drinking water, it means they have an imbalance. When it is psychogenic, we need to take a look at their well-being and determine what is causing them mental illness. This is best carried out with the help of a canine ethologist. In the next sections, we find out the physical reasons a dog might have an imbalance leading to excessive thirst.

Symptoms of excessive thirst in dogs

The main symptom of excessive thirst in dogs is the animal drinking a lot of water. However, the act of drinking too much will have a physical affect on their body and behavior. This is partly due to the strain it puts on their vital organs, especially their liver and kidneys. If your dog drinks too much water, it may result in the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Tiredness and excessive drowsiness
  • Paralysis
  • Heart failure
  • Decline in cognitive ability
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Although drinking too much water is dangerous, so too is being dehydrated. Learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment of a dog not drinking water in our related guide.

My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water - Symptoms of excessive thirst in dogs

Reasons for psychogenic polydipsia in dogs

As stereotypies are obsessive behaviors, they are generally psychological or emotional in origin. A companion animal can develop obsessive behaviors for many reasons. They include:

  • Poor socialization
  • Neglect
  • Trauma
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of cognitive stimulation
  • Stressors in the environment

Regardless of size or breed, all dogs need to exercise to stay healthy physically. However, a lack of exercise can also harm them psychologically and result in problems such as excessive thirst. A dog that spends too much time alone or is too sedentary will likely develop various behavioral problems. Each dog is also an individual. What is an appropriate amount of exercise for one dog will be too much or too little for another.

Socialization is also very important, especially when dogs are young. If a dog's socialization period is neglected, they will not learn the skills about how to interact in a healthy way or respond to various stimuli. For this reason, otherwise innocuous stimuli can cause a dog to become scared and anxious. This can lead to a variety of disorders. Some may become aggressive, but it can also manifest in less obvious ways such as excessive thirst.

If you just adopted a dog who is obsessed with water, you should also consider the sad possibility they may have a history of physical and emotional abuse. Feeling insecure to express themselves, your new companion may use excessive drinking as release valve to relieve their accumulated tension. You will have to be very patient and invest in a re-education and resocialization, best done with the help of a professional.

Learn more about how to socialize an adult dog with our related guide.

Neurological disorders leading to drinking a lot

We should consider physical problems when a dog drinks a lot. Neurological disorders or damage to the brain can lead to various behavioral issues. Specifically, damage to the hypothalamus can lead to excessive thirst. This is because this the part of the brain that regulates thirst. An organic alteration such as a blood clot or a post-traumatic injury can lead to malfunctioning of the hypothalamus and ensuant excessive drinking.

Although these diagnoses are very rare, it is essential to go to the veterinary clinic to rule out this possibility. The veterinarian will require the necessary clinical studies to determine if the cause of canine potomania is associated with brain damage. They will use diagnostic imaging tests such as an x-ray, MRI or CT scan to make an image of the brain and look for damage. This will likely require a specialized veterinarian to carry out.

Read our related article to learn more about neurological disorders in dogs.

My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water - Neurological disorders leading to drinking a lot

Diseases and disorders

In addition to psychological disorders and brain damage, polydipsia can be a clinical symptom of various diseases. These include the following:

  • Diabetes : dogs with diabetes may have a feeling of excessive thirst. This is because the kidneys work harder to get rid of excessive amounts of sugar in their diet, requiring more water in the process.

  • Kidney disease: for s similar reason to diabetes mellitus in dogs, dogs with kidney failure will require more water to best allow their kidneys to function.

  • Hormonal alterations: some hormonal disorders, such as hyperthyroidism in dogs, can directly interfere with metabolism and cause certain unusual behaviors. These are often related to endocrine disorders since they affect endocrine glands such as the thyroid and parathyroid glands. This could even be due to a tumor on the gland which causes it to overact.

  • Eating disorders: dogs that develop an excessive appetite or suffer from anorexia may feel excessive thirst and become obsessed with drinking water.

  • Infections: different infections can affect the dog's organism in a number of ways. Viral or bacterial infections can lead to increased thirst, especially bacterial urinary tract infections in dogs.

  • Medication side effects: prolonged treatment with anti-inflammatory medications, diuretics, anticholinergics or medications that contain lithium in their formula can cause excessive thirst in dogs.

It should be noted that these causes are more related to increased water consumption without becoming an obsessive behavior. Once the problems are treated, the dog should return to drinking normally.

What to do when a dog drinks a lot of water

The physical symptoms of too much water must receive immediate attention to restore the dog to good health. At the veterinary clinic, your dog can receive the appropriate treatment to balance the electrolyte levels in their body. Diuretic medications may be applied to promote the elimination of excess water and stabilize their body fluids.

The specific treatment for drinking a lot will depend on the underlying cause. This requires diagnosis by a professional veterinarian. They will be able to diagnose any physical health problem and provide the corresponding treatment. For example, if it is due to a urinary tract infection, they can prescribe antibiotics. If a tumor is on the thyroid gland, they can remove it surgically.

When the problem is psychological in origin, the veterinarian should recommend a canine ethologist. They can assess your dog's specific circumstances and best determine the reason they are drinking a lot. They will suggest changes such as improving environmental enrichment to ensure cognitive stimulation, create an exercise regimen to meet their physical stimulation needs or carry out a socialization process to help them in various situations.

My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water - What to do when a dog drinks a lot of water

General tips for when a dog drinks a lot

Obsessive behaviors can not only be avoided, but must be prevented for the physical and mental well-being of dogs. The best prevention for drinking stereotypy is to offer a good quality of life to your best friend. This includes complying with the following guidelines:

  • Offer a positive environment where your dog can develop safely
  • Use positive reinforcement in their education
  • Never use physical or emotional violence
  • Provide regular veterinarian visits which should increase when they become senior dogs
  • Carry out periodic deworming
  • Establish a proper vaccination schedule
  • Maintain a balanced diet which meets their specific needs
  • Provide opportunity for physical exercise according to their needs
  • Socialize the dog when they are a puppy and do not remove them too soon from their mother
  • Learn and respect the five freedoms of animal welfare

The care your dog needs will depend on various factors such as breed, personality, age, health status and more. These will affect what the dog should eat, how much they should exercise and other care requirements. For example, you should provide a special diet for dogs with kidney disease to best ensure kidney function. These issues should always be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure your dog gets the level of care they need.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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My Dog Drinks a Lot of Water