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Dogs and Drinking Water, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1 of “Dogs and Drinking Water”, we talked about the health risks that may exist when…

Why does your dog drink too much water?

Last week, in Part 1 of “Dogs and Drinking Water”, we talked about the health risks that may exist when a dog does not consume enough water. This week we will explore the reasons and concerns behind a dog that drinks too much water. This is a condition called Polydipsia, and it happens more frequently than you would think.

There can be many physical reasons for polydipsia. Just like the opposite affliction we discussed last week, illness, infection, and medications can be to blame. But drinking too much water is sometimes a psychological issue. When drinking too much water is because of a behavioral or psychological issue, it is called psychogenic polydipsia.

Why is drinking too much water dangerous?

Drinking water is a healthy habit, right? We often talk about how important it is to get our 8 glasses of water per day. It is just as important for our dogs to have adequate hydration. Our bodies are composed of 60% water. A dog’s body is composed of 60 – 80% of water depending on age and body fat percentages. These fluids are necessary for so many bodily processes – for humans as well as dogs: digestion, transport and absorption of nutrients, maintaining body temperature, circulation, joint lubrication, waste removal and more. A lack of fluid creates an obvious problem. But when a dog drinks more than he needs, it is equally as dangerous.

Water intake will vary by dog. Some dogs are just big water drinkers, and if it is not excessive, it is not a problem. There are times when you may think your dog is drinking more water than they should, but it is perfectly normal.

Normal reasons your dog may drink more water than usual

• If a dog is highly active and plays hard, they will be thirstier than a dog that is sedentary.
• Dogs that eat dry kibble will be more thirsty than wet food eaters.
• Salt is often used as a flavoring and a preservative in dog treats, so it is logical that higher sodium treats will make your dog more thirsty.
• If it is hot outside, a dog will drink more than usual.

Medical reasons your dog may be drinking lots of water suddenly

Drinking too much water may be a sign of a disease, many of which are serious.

• Diabetes. As the dog’s body attempts to remove the excess glucose by urinating, the glucose attracts water and excretes it along with the glucose. This will cause a dog to be very thirsty.
• High Blood Calcium (hypercalcemia). An excess of calcium in a dog’s blood may be a sign of a more serious condition. But in itself, hypercalcemia may cause a dog to drink and urinate too much. In addition, it causes weakness and loss of appetite.
• Kidney Disease. One of the first signs of developing kidney/renal disease is polydipsia.
• Addisons Disease. Increased thirst is sometimes an indicator of Addisons disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands that controls thirst (among other things).
• Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is caused from a tumor on either the base of the brain or on the adrenal gland. One of the many symptoms of Cushing’s disease is increased thirst.
• Pyometra. It was a surprise to me to learn that Pyometra is one of the most common reproductive emergencies seen in a veterinary emergency room. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus and it sounds just terrible. Bacteria enters into the uterus of unspayed females causing a build up of toxins. The toxins reduce the kidneys capacity to retain fluid, causing increased urination. So naturally, it causes the dog to drink more water.
• Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of a hormone by the thyroid gland. This will cause an increase in metabolism, often causing excess thirst, among other symptoms.

Medicines that may make your dog drink too much water

Is your dog on any medications? There are several drugs that would cause your dog to drink more:

• Prednisone, a corticosteroid, commonly prescribed for a variety of health issues.
• Furosemide is a diuretic used to treat fluid retention. It is most often prescribed for congestive heart failure, but sometimes for other organs in the body that are retaining too much water.
• Phenobarbital, used to treat seizures, may also cause increased thirst.

Psychogenic polydipsia in dogs

Drinking too much water is not always a symptom of disease and illness. As we mentioned previously, drinking excessive amounts of water can be a psychological problem and it is referred to as Psychogenic polydipsia. It is not as common as polydipsia. Psychogenic polydipsia is manifested by excessive thirst, and the inability to stop once thirst is satisfied. Very often, these pups have a nervous, excitable type of personality. If your veterinarian has ruled out any medical complications for your dog drinking too much water, it is time to examine the motivation behind his conduct. Believe it or not, sometimes it is determined that the dog is drinking too much water because he just likes water! But more often, it is because he is lacking some type of mental or physical stimulation. Maybe the dog is bored. Or maybe he is just looking for attention. Adding more enrichment, exercise, and quality time to your dog’s life may help to alleviate the symptoms.

Just like people who suffer from OCD – obsession compulsive behavior, dogs can also suffer from compulsive behaviors. Drinking too much water is only one of the repetitive behaviors’ dogs will exhibit when they have a compulsive behavioral issue. Simply limiting access to water will not eliminate the problem. The compulsion will return with even more urgency when water is given. It’s almost like an addiction. The underlying cause of compulsive disorders are often difficult to diagnose, but once confirmed, can be treated with medication and behavior modification throughout the dog’s life.

What happens when your dog drinks too much water?

When a dog drinks more water than he needs, it lowers or dilutes their electrolytes: sodium, potassium and chloride. Electrolytes are critical for nerve function, muscle function and blood pressure. A lack of sodium, particularly, can adversely affect the brain and central nervous system.

Have you ever heard of “water intoxication”? A dog that is over hydrated acts like he is high on alcohol or drugs. They may begin staggering or loose coordination, and have glazed eyes and dilated pupils. They may be nauseated, lethargic, and may drool excessively. If untreated, they could seize, have trouble breathing, and lose consciousness. It can be fatal.

How do you know if your dog is drinking excessively?

• You are constantly refilling your dog’s water bowl.
• Your dog needs to “go outside” more often.
• Your dog makes frequent visits to the water bowl.
• Your dog suddenly starts drinking from the toilet.
• Your dog regurgitates water after drinking.
• Your dog begins having accidents in the house.

If you suspect that your dog is drinking too much water, call and make a Veterinarian appointment, and then keep tabs on what you are observing for a 24-hour period. Record how often (and how much) you fill your dog’s water bowl, as well as any of the other above signs you notice. Just before your visit to the veterinarian, collect a urine sample in a clean container. Then take your record and urine sample with you to your appointment.

Contact us

If you are looking for a little vacation for your pup, reach out to Holiday Barn Pet Resorts in either Glen Allen or Midlothian to see our luxurious staycation, boarding, or grooming options!

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