Dog’s Excessive Drinking Is Concern

Whenever a dog starts drinking excessively, a vet visit is in order.

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Q. We have a 4-year-old German Shepherd who has started drinking water in excess lately. He will drink and drink, then drink more. Sometimes he drinks so fast that he throws up. Should we be worried?

A. Excessive water intake is always a cause for concern in dogs. The big question is: Is your dog sick, or is this a behavioral issue? Some dogs just start drinking water because they enjoy it, which can lead to a kidney condition known as medullary washout, which causes them to keep drinking lots of water. Over time, their water intake will normalize.
 
The main causes of increased water intake that are tied to underlying disease are diabetes, kidney failure, and Cushing’s disease. It is relatively easy to rule out each of these with some simple blood and urine tests.
 
Diabetes is the easiest to diagnose: A urine test strip will show high levels of glucose in the urine. When diabetes was first discovered in humans, medical students would taste urine to see if it had a sweet taste. A very basic test, but not currently recommended. Diabetes is also accompanied by weight loss, and high glucose levels in the bloodstream. The glucose tends to pull additional water into the bloodstream, and out through the kidneys, leading to increased water intake to replace losses.
 
Renal failure occurs when the kidneys lose their water concentrating ability, and excess water is lost through the urine, leading to increased water intake. Often, there is exposure to some kind of toxin (such as antifreeze) which leads to the kidney damage. Sometimes it occurs for no apparent reason, but usually in older dogs.
 
Cushing’s disease is a hormonal disease that occurs when the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol. This, in turn, leads to excessive loss of water into the urine and increased water intake.
 
You should arrange to get a physical exam and at least a few basic screening tests for your German Shepherd to rule out medical causes. Hopefully, he is just enjoying drinking water.

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Samantha   Clinton, Kentucky

12/12/2013 4:51:43 AM

I have a pitbull that just had a litter of 8. 4wks ago and has been doing great but all the sudden started drinking a extreme amount of water like I can't keep it in her bowl and ideas?

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Melissa   Yardley, Pennsylvania

4/19/2013 2:36:15 PM

How is the dog? My German shepherd just started doing the same thing! All tests bormal

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Julie   Walla Walla, Washington

2/10/2013 9:33:08 PM

I have a 10 1/2 year old Rottie who has been drinking an increased amount of water lately. I lost my Dachshund to an adrenal gland tumor last year so I know all about Cushings. The blood/urine tests came back normal so her kidneys and liver are functioning well. What are other reasons for increased water consumption? I have been putting beef broth on her food in the last month and wondered if the sodium in it would cause her to drink more.

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Rick   Newport, New York

1/21/2013 7:33:29 PM

I have 1 1/2 yr old Beagle pup. Drinking excessive water. we have been trying to limit hs intake for the first time. He was not doing well. Constantly going to his dish pushes it around to let us know he is thirsty. So I gave him about 6 oz., he then ate his dinner so I gave him 6 more. I then took him out and he proceeded to lick the snow. Got him to stop and pee but then he came in and began to shake and shutter. After about 15 min. it stopped and now he is sleeping peacefully. Do you have a read on that?

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