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Ed King from Charleston, SC asked:
My dog (mixed breed), I think part Greyhound, recently started drinking water excessively. Her normal 2 Qts. a day now exceed 5 Qts. No changes were made diet or exercise. She’s 8.
Possible causes? cures?
Hi Ed, thank you for your question.
This is such a common problem that I hope I can help your furry friend as well as many others out there.
Increased drinking is a common symptom in middle age and older dogs and can have a number of different causes that are not always easy to identify.
With such a dramatic increase in water intake in your fur baby, this is most likely a medical problem that should be identified as soon as possible.
The three most common causes of increased drinking in middle aged and older dogs are diabetes mellitus, kidney disease and Cushing’s disease.
Diabetes is typically caused by a low production of insulin or the body not responding to insulin anymore. This can be easily tested for by looking for glucose (sugar) in the urine or a high blood sugar. When the blood sugar goes over 200, glucose appears in the urine. You can test for glucose in the urine at home using these test strips: click here. The great thing about these strips is that you can use them to test for diabetes but also get an idea if there is possible infection in the urine by checking for trace amounts of blood and protein. You can also get the less expensive strips that just check for glucose here.
Diabetes in dogs is treated by giving insulin injections twice daily with your veterinarian’s supervision because getting the right insulin dose can be difficult. If she has diabetes, it is important to begin treatment right away, while she is still eating well and not acting sick. Once they become sick with ketoacidosis, intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital for 3-5 days is required and some dogs don’t survive this phase of the disease. Diet change alone is not effective in controlling diabetes in dogs but a high fiber diet can help improve regulation.
Kidney disease is a broad term that includes infection or more serious kidney damage. Blood tests and urinalysis should be done to determine if there is just a simple infection in the kidneys, causing a change in the water regulation system in the body or more serious deterioration of kidney function. If either of these problems exist, treatment would include antibiotics and potentially some other medication. A prescription diet with restricted, high quality protein and restricted phosphorous should be fed. Most diets have too much phosphorous for a dog with compromised kidneys and the prescription diet food K/d has been shown to double the survival time of a dog with kidney disease when compared against a senior diet.
Cushing’s disease is a hormonal problem where the adrenal glands make too much cortisol. This hormone then affects the water regulation system in the body, causing them to produce more urine. This then causes dogs to drink a lot more water. It is usually caused by a small tumor in the pituitary gland (most common) or adrenal gland (less common). This condition can go on to increase the risk of other problems such as diabetes, hair loss, infection as well as other issues.
Cushing’s disease tends to be a more chronic, slowly developing problem with less urgency than diabetes or kidney disease. It is detected by advanced blood testing and ultrasound once the other causes of increased drinking are eliminated. Treatment involves several different possible medications and frequent monitoring of cortisol blood levels to decrease the risk of side effects and improve control of symptoms.
I know this is a lot of information to digest for such a seemingly simple problem. These are the three most common causes of increased drinking but there are at least 12 other causes as well.
My recommendation is to start with a urinalysis and a basic CBC and Chemistry profile with your veterinarian and go from there. If you want to start simple at home, try the test strips from Amazon. They are inexpensive and can help you see if there is glucose, blood or protein in the urine. At least then you will have an idea of what you may be facing before you take her to your vet.
If she has an infection, this may be easily treated with antibiotics. If it is one of the more complicated problems mentioned, you will need your veterinarian to sort it out with you and determine the best treatment for your girl.
Good luck and I wish you well!
Dr. Chris Smith
America’s Favorite Dog Vet
my dog was tested for everything but his saliva glands. hes drinking alot of water why dont vets know about salva stones or even anything to do with blockages he doesnt have any other probs no diabeties everything checked ok. what can cause this his mout is always drooling and he needs tons of water all day ive paid alot to try and find out why dont vets know
I’m trying to spread the word on this because I don’t see anything written in any of the articles regarding dogs and excessive drinking and urination. I finally figured out it can be a side effect of the prescription medication RIMADYL . If your dog is taking RIMADYL, please consider it as a possible cause of frequent drinking and urination.
I was just about to write the exact same thing as Linda, and then saw her comment. Please write the name of the test strips.
My 14 yr old Collie has started to drink a lot of water. Then she sleeps so hard and keeps wetting the bed. I wash her blankets every morning. It is not like she only goes to the vet once a year. She goes in frequently for diarrhea. She is also spitting up all over the house. It’s not vomit, it is mostly clear. The vet did xrays to make sure there was no blockage in her throat. My point is, the vet is always doing xrays and blood work on her. If my Collie had any of the above diseases, wouldn’t the vet have picked up on it already?
The link to the test strips on Amazon is broken. Will you please say what the name of the product is, so we can look for it manually?
I have an 8 year old cocker spaniel/poodle and i love her so much but shes drinking so much i have to fill the bowl up 4-5 times a day then she gos and sits next to the bowl and wines what should i do? thanks
My almost 10 year old Belgian Shep suddenly started drinking too much water one day in October 2013. Tests showed hypercalcemia. This secondary condition is caused by the body producing too much calcium as a response to several possible primary causes. It was never fully established, but by process of elimination for other possibilities, cancer was the only possible cause left. The dangerously high calcium levels were actually more lethal than the cancer. The higher calcium began to destroy his back legs within 3-4 weeks, causing terrible suffering. Then one day he stopped eating and drinking and I thought it was over. But the new vet suggested steroids as a last resort, “may as well give it one more day, it may be worth a try”….Within one hour my boy was able to stand up again and eat and drink again. And eat. and eat…he was so happy again! He tolerated prednisone and tramadol really well for 20 more weeks, enjoying an excellent quality of life, though I knew our time was now limited. Sadly, almost as predicted, the steroids stopped working and finally his back legs completely quit in one afternoon. The only thing left was to end his suffering humanely. He only passed 2 weeks ago, March 12. Looking back to when this all began, I *intuitively knew* the sudden dramatic increase in drinking water was a serious sign. He was a fantastic dog who we loved and still love, and we miss him terribly. Everyone called him Ghandi because he was so peaceful and gentle, always took the high road whenever any dog would challenge him.
My big question is why are our beloved dogs getting so much cancer now and what can we do about it?
Hi Pat, I am sorry your dog passed away. I have a golden retriever who is 9.5 yrs. old. He has tumors on him and is drinking a lot. My Vet said let him live out his life this way because I do not want him to have surgery. Some times you just can’t do anything but love them. We had a Sheppard Oh! we loved her. She was 13 and her hips and legs gave out and we had to put her down. It is never easy. I am thankful to God for the time we have with them.
My dog Katie, she is a Australian Sheppard mix has been drinking to much water. She was my Dad’s dog. He died in Jan. 2, 2010. Katie can drink a 5 gallon bucket in two days. Taking her to vet. Before it is to late. She is all I have left of Daddy.
My dog Apollo started drinking a lot of water and also quit eating suddenly. Took him to two different veterinarians and found out he was in end stage renal failure. This caught us off guard because he had been in our regular veterinarians office two months before for allergy illness and the blood test was ok on his kidneys. Long and short of it, they gave him daily injections of fluid and he finally was hospitalized so they could give him ivs 24/7. His keratin levels kept climbing and finally veterinarian said he would not recover as his kidneys were not making red blood cells now. Lost my best friend Apollo on February 22, 2014 as we couldn’t stand to see him suffer like he was suffering. I still miss him so much and can’t believe he is gone! I hope your story has a better outcome than mine did but when Apollo started drinking a lot of water, it was too late for veterinarians to really save him.
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never
understand. It seems too complex and extremely
broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get
the hang of it!
My Dog too started drinking an excess of water….It totally freaked me out. She was drinking much more often & MORE than I’d ever seen her drink in 11+ yrs. Sadly, once we the doc looked at us (with that “look”) we knew it was serious. She ended up having Lymphoma. (It’s been only 3wks today that she passed)PLEASE take you sweet poochie to the Vet As Soooon As Possible! Good Luck 7 will be hoping that’s it’s nothing serious for your greyhound baby.
Had to make the correction: “Good Luck & (not 7) will be hoping for you both it’s nothing serious”!!
my dog drank alot of water. she is a small breed dog. i brought it to the vets attention. she drew blood, checking her various problems. i was told it was normal for her to drank that much. she eats dry dog food. i don’t agree with the vet, my dog still drinks alot of water. i fill her water bowl several times a day.
We had a friend who had a poodle 2yo ,he was drinking lots if water I knew something was wrong ,she would not believe me ,after few month when she took him to vet ,he told her after all the tests they done he had stage 5 lymphoma and. He died 3 month later he was so sick .I think u should not let her drink that much take the bowl up give it to her 3 times a day .
Sorry, but depriving your dog of water when it wants/needs it is one of the worst pieces of advice I have ever heard. They will only drink if they need it, not because they just fancy drinking a bit too much. All that will happen is they will dehydrate – a very bad thing is there is an underlying cause.
You DEFINITELY should NOT remove the water. And after telling the story of the 2-year-old poode who had lymphoma? You crazy? The dog needs to go to the vet. We have a 16,5 year old dachshund who has recently been drinking excessive amounts of water. My gut tells me it is probably kidney failure or diabetes, but my intellect tells me that it is probably time to let him go. He is increasingly incontinent, a big problem, and senile….. he walks into corners and forgets where he is, he walks through cords hanging off my desk and if I’m not there, will quite likely pull something off my desk and damage either himself or a piece of office equipment. He is unsettled all night which is creating rest problems for us, drinking water and whining slightly and we are all at our wits’ end. This little guy is a survivor – he came from a puppy mill, unbeknown to us, and survived his first two weeks in intensive veterinary care. The vet’s wife often held him against her chest for hours at night to help him through (he wasn’t home with us yet) and he has had a very long, healthy, happy and very bossy life! I don’t think he is that happy now, although he is alert, interested in our other dog and friends or strangers, and eating voraciously. I could just keep feeding him till he bursts, but I know I must limit his food intake because dachshunds must never, ever be overweight. No dog should be, but it’s more potentially damaging for dachshunds. So this is why I got onto this page. I just can’t bring myself to end the life of otherwise this tough, warm, shining, feisty, muscular little person. But there is so much that is not right.
Another possibility that is often overlooked: Leptospirosis. The age of this dog not be relevant.
Caught soon enough & it can be cured…our vet also checked for that too!!
Could be to much protein in her food, and its burning up her kidneys!!
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what if my dog will not eat K/D food