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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emma   gibraltar, Florida

11/8/2014 11:15:36 AM

Hi i have a 2 year old female british bull terrier she drinks so much water shes always thristy so thirsty that i have to make sure bathroom door is closed or she will drink out the toilet bucket bath anything with water in it she even sleeps outside the bathroom door!

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dennis   bellevernont, Pennsylvania

9/17/2014 11:22:09 PM

Beautiful white 2 yr old huskie lab that has never been able to hold down water..variable temps & amounts..anyone encounter these same symptons..?

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penelope   edina, Minnesota

8/31/2014 11:00:57 AM

i have a 14 year old shiba inu who is drinking lots of water and sometime goes potty in the house (very unusual for this breed) earlier in the spring her blood tests and urine test were fine however she continues to drink a lot of water - should i have her checked again. She also seems to be getting dementia. gets confused, gets scared and only likes a routine. For example this is a dog that always loved to ride in the car and now gets agitated

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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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