Dog’s Excessive Drinking Is Concern

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


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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Nancy   Hawthorne, California

12/4/2015 2:22:10 PM

My 11 yr old lab hasn't eaten in 2 days, he's been laying down and drinking lots of water. Now this am he was a bit more happy but had diarrhea and still wouldn't eat. Being he's less lethargic, he even had a short walk (slow) he enjoyed I'm thinking to wait a another dAy to see my vet, I'm financially strapped but I'm concerned about his drinking water only

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Madi   anchorage, Alaska

11/26/2015 9:00:43 AM

My dog is dieing

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tara   boise, Idaho

4/30/2015 9:18:02 PM

Robin, WHY the Lack of DISCLOSURE, I would be shouting at the roof tops to let people know that the local 'vet' is TOTAL WASTE OF SPACE, INCOMPETENT AND HAS NO COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS OR THE PEOPLE THAT LOVE THEM. It would seem to me that you would not want others to go thru what you have in trying to help your dog. Word of mouth is the best advertisement there is. I hope your Lucy is feeling better and you might try getting one of those shirts that they make exclusively for dachshund type dogs to help w/ back problems. I lost the love of my life to IVDD 1 year 4 days ago, he was only 5 years old, his name was BO WILLIS and not 1 day goes by that I don't think of him and wish I had done something, anything different that day. Take care.

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Julia   Mundelein, Illinois

4/13/2015 7:47:32 PM

My dog is 13 and has an ear infection smells bad, lumps on his stomach and one protruding from behind, also drinking lots more water than usual. I think it is time to let him rest but my daughter, his best friend 21 is out of town until next month. is it awful if my husband does not wait to have Jackie my daughter next to him for this last visit to the vet?

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