As pet owners, we are often attuned to our dog's behaviour, monitoring their eating habits, playfulness, and overall well-being.
Noticing your dog drinking lots of water can raise concerns and leave you wondering why. Whilst occasional thirst is normal for dogs, excessive water intake could indicate an underlying health condition or a reaction to external factors.
Understanding why your dog is drinking lots of water can help you better assess their well-being and seek appropriate veterinary care if necessary.
How much water should your dog drink?
The amount of water your dog needs in a day can vary depending on several factors, such as their size, age, activity level, medication, and weather. According to DAVIES, a general guideline is that a dog should consume around 20-70ml of water per day per kilogram of body weight. For example, a 20kg dog should ideally consume between 400ml to 1,400ml of water daily.
It is crucial to consider the various factors that can influence the amount of water your dog consumes. For instance, if your dog is highly active on a hot, sunny day, they will naturally need and drink more water to avoid dehydration and heatstroke.
As a responsible pet owner, monitoring your dog's water intake and ensuring they always have access to fresh, clean water is essential.
Why is your dog thirsty?
As evident as it is, dogs, like humans, need water to survive. You may notice your dog drinking lots of water for various reasons. They may be thirsty after eating, hot due to the weather or due to some level of activity. It is important that your dog always has access to fresh, clean water because water can help to regulate your dog's body temperature, flush out toxins and keep their organs functioning properly.
Reasons your dog is drinking too much water
While it’s vital to ensure they get enough water, your dog drinking too much can signal that something is wrong. Here are some common reasons why your dog might be drinking more water than usual:
Diabetes in dogs can lead to excessive water consumption due to imbalanced blood sugar levels. AVMA says, "When the blood glucose reaches a certain level, the glucose overflows into the urine and draws large volumes of water with it".
Diabetes mellitus in dogs is caused by the failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. VCA state that one of the four main symptoms of diabetes mellitus in dogs is increased thirst. Due to insufficient insulin, the glucose (energy source) cannot get to the cells. The body tries to eliminate the excess glucose by excreting it in the urine. VCA also say, "Since glucose attracts water, it increases the volume of urine produced. To avoid dehydration, the dog drinks more and more water."
When your dog exercises, they drink more to stay hydrated and regulate their body temperature. During physical activities, your dog loses fluids through panting and sweating (through their paws). Blue Cross states that dogs "rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature".
To compensate for the fluid loss during exercise, your dog instinctively needs to drink more water. Drinking water helps replenish the lost fluids and maintain their body's water balance. Adequate hydration is crucial to prevent overheating and ensure the proper functioning of their organs and muscles during physical exertion.
Your dog's diet can significantly affect their water intake. The type of food they consume, the ingredients and whether the food is wet or dry play a role in determining their hydration needs.
Dogs fed a diet primarily consisting of raw, wet or canned food may consume less water than those on a dry kibble diet. Wet food already contains a higher water content, which helps contribute to their overall hydration. On the other hand, dogs on a dry food diet may drink more water as they need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
The ingredients in your dog's diet can influence their water intake because diets rich in salt can increase your dog's thirst and lead to higher water consumption to maintain fluid balance.
As dogs go through different life stages, their age can impact the amount of water they consume. Puppies have higher water requirements than adult dogs because they are growing rapidly. Their bodies are developing and need more water to support their growing organs, tissues, and muscles. Additionally, puppies are often more active and playful, leading to increased water loss through panting and activity, further increasing their water intake needs.
Adult dogs generally have stable water needs, influenced by their activity levels, size, diet, and environmental conditions.
Finally, the metabolism and activity levels of senior dogs tend to decrease, leading to reduced water loss through physical exertion. However, as dogs age, they may be more susceptible to health conditions such as kidney problems, which can directly affect their water intake. The results from J Vet Intern Med 2013 report stated that the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in dogs varied widely from 0.05-3.74% in the UK.
Weather conditions, such as heat and humidity, are crucial in determining how much water your dog needs to stay sufficiently hydrated. During hot and humid weather, your dog is more susceptible to dehydration and heatstroke due to warmer weather and increased water loss through panting and sweating. During hot and humid weather, closely monitoring your dog's water intake and well-being is crucial, as heatstroke can be life-threatening.
On the other hand, dogs may show reduced interest in drinking water during cold weather compared to warmer climates. However, providing access to fresh, clean water is essential.
Certain medications can affect your dog's water intake due to their pharmacological effects on their body. Some medications may cause increased thirst in dogs, a condition known as polydipsia. This side effect can be a direct result of the medication's impact on the brain's thirst-regulating centres or its effect on certain hormone levels.
Additionally, other medications may cause side effects like dry mouth or nausea, increasing your dog's thirst. Some medications can affect your dog's metabolism or body temperature regulation, contributing to higher water needs.
It's essential to be vigilant about these medication effects and ensure your dog's water intake remains appropriate during treatment, consulting with a veterinarian if any concerning changes occur.
Dog dehydration symptoms
Dehydration occurs when your dog's body loses more fluids than it takes in. This can happen for various reasons, including not drinking enough water, excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhoea, or a combination of these factors. If your dog is dehydrated, it's important to address the issue promptly, as it can quickly become a severe health concern.
Dehydration can cause your dog to become lethargic and show little interest in physical activities. They may seem weak or tired, lacking their usual energy levels. Your dog needs water to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes in their body, which is essential for proper muscle function and energy levels. If you notice a significant decrease in your dog's activity and playfulness, you should take them to the vet to get checked, as it can be a symptom of several other health conditions.
Loss of appetite
Dehydrated dogs may lose their appetite and show disinterest in food. Dog treats or meals might not entice them to eat. If this is the case, try more high-value rewarding dog treats to see if it piques their interest. A sudden loss of interest in eating can be a worrisome indicator of dehydration and other health issues. It is vital to see your veterinarian if your dog is not eating. Other than dehydration, a loss of appetite can signify other significant illnesses.
One visible sign of dehydration is the appearance of sunken eyes. Dehydrated dogs may have eyes that look recessed or appear sunken into their eye sockets. This occurs due to the loss of fluid throughout the body, including the tissues around the eyes. The dog's body will try to conserve water by pulling it from other areas, such as the eyes.
A dehydrated dog may exhibit a dry and sticky mouth. You may notice their gums and tongue appearing dry, and their saliva may be thick and rope-like. Dehydration affects the production of saliva, leading to these dry mouth symptoms.
Thick, rope-like saliva
In addition to a dry mouth, dehydrated dogs might have thick and sticky saliva. This type of saliva is rope-like rather than thin and watery. This change in saliva consistency is related to reduced fluid intake and the body's attempt to conserve water.
How to get your dog to drink more water
If you have spoken with you're veterinarian, and it has been found that your dog does not have any health conditions, but you're still having trouble getting your dog to drink enough water, there are a few things you can try:
Keep the water bowl clean and filled with fresh-cool water.
Make sure the water bowl is easily accessible.
Offer water in a different bowl or location to make it more appealing.
Add water to your dog's food to increase their water intake.
Consider using a dog water fountain.
When out, bring a dog water bottle for hydration on the go.
Keep an eye on your dog's water consumption
If you notice that your dog is drinking more water than usual, monitoring their water consumption and behaviour is essential.
Whilst it's important to ensure your dog stays hydrated, drinking too much water can be a sign that something is wrong. By keeping an eye on your dog's behaviour and water consumption, you can help ensure that they stay healthy and happy. If you notice any changes in their drinking habits, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. Remember, prevention and early detection are key when it comes to your dog's health.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I be concerned about my dog drinking too much water?
If your dog is drinking lots of water and shows other symptoms such as frequent urination, lethargy, or changes in appetite or behaviour, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you are concerned, it's best to consult with your veterinarian.
What does it mean when an older dog starts drinking a lot of water?
As dogs age, they may develop health conditions that can directly affect the amount of water they consume. For example, older dogs are more prone to developing kidney disease, which can cause increased thirst and urination. Additionally, some medications commonly prescribed for senior dogs can cause increased thirst as a side effect. If you notice that your older dog is drinking lots more water than usual, it's best to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.