Keeping hydrated is important for all of us — our dogs, too. How much water our dogs are drinking can actually tell us a lot about their general health.
Daily, a dog should be drinking 1 ounce (1/8 of a cup) of fluids per pound of body weight. For example, a 10-pound dog should drink approximately 10 fluid ounces per day, while a 100-pound dog should drink roughly 100 fluid ounces in a day.
Excessive thirst in dogs, medically known as polydipsia, can result from something as simple as recent exercise to a more complex underlying medical condition.
Dr. Annette Louviere, of Wisdom Panel pet DNA testing service, says that while dogs can normally change their water intake from day-to-day, any fluctuation that persists or any sudden, drastic changes in their habits could be an indicator of an underlying health condition.
Reasons dogs drink a lot of water
Dr. Louviere says other causes of increased water intake in dogs include the type of food they’re eating (dry food can make them more thirsty), hot weather, playing, certain medications, infection and even boredom.
A related symptom to dogs drinking a lot of water is increased urination, which could indicate a urinary tract infection (UTIs) or urinary stones. More serious kidney disorders or endocrine conditions like Cushing’s disease, are possible, too.
Sometimes, when a dog drinks too much water it’s a medical problem that requires a vet visit.
Here are a list of the top medical issues that are causing your dog to drink a lot of water:
- Kidney disease in dogs. Other signs of kidney disease in dogs may include:
- Increased (or sometimes decreased) urination
- Lack of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
2. Diabetes. Signs of diabetes in dogs also include excessive drinking, along with:
- Increased urination
- Weight loss — especially paired with increased appetite
- Chronic or recurrent infections
3. Side effect of medication, such as steroids.
A bladder infection, or UTI, can often cause dogs to drink more water.
Dr. Louviere says to see a vet if you notice any fluctuation from your dog’s normal level of water drinking that is persistent — or if you see sudden, drastic changes in your dog’s drinking habits. If your dog is drinking much more water than usual and he’s a senior, a trip to the vet is a good idea. When in doubt, give your vet a call. Note any other unusual symptoms your dog is exhibiting — like changes in appetite levels and urination.
She says a vet will likely start with a physical exam in order to determine the best course of action. Then bloodwork and urinalysis to help rule out (or rule in) different conditions like kidney disease, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.
But drinking more water isn’t always a sign of a larger medical problem. Dr. Louviere says to look at the big picture and take into account if there are any other notable changes — like appetite or energy levels — as well as your dog’s age and lifestyle.
Water intoxication in dogs
While keeping hydrated is important, our dogs can get too much water. Dr. Louviere says there’s a condition called water intoxication often seen in dogs who like to play in water for long periods — especially those who continuously lap at the water while playing in it. It’s rare but severe cases are potentially fatal.
Symptoms of water intoxication may include:
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive salivation
- Dilated pupils
- Trouble breathing
How to tell how much water my dog is drinking
Monitoring how much water your dog is drinking can help pet parents gain valuable information about dog health. But it doesn’t always mean something serious. Sometimes it just means your dog is hot.
For pet parents with water-loving dogs who enjoy playing in the pool regularly, water intoxication is something to keep in mind. Dogs can ingest too much water while playing in water that can lead to this potentially fatal condition. Keep an eye on how much water your dog is taking in during water play and give him plenty of breaks to relieve himself.
Generally, if you notice any big changes in your dog’s water drinking, pay your vet a visit and note any other changes in your dog to help determine if there’s an underlying medical issue.