Help! My Dog Is Drinking A Lot

dog-drinking-water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Dog Drinks More Than Usual

  1. When dogs drink more it’s usually hormonal or kidney issues
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top cause in small breed dogs is Cushings Disease
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

I’ve talked before about cats drinking too much water. Now let’s look at the common reasons why dogs drink excessive amounts of water. Just like for cats, drinking too much in dogs is potentially serious and needs investigation.

First, though, how much is too much? The first thing to do is measure the amount.

How Much Water Should A Dog Drink A Day?

A dog under normal ambient temperatures and exercise levels should drink no more than 70mL per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a 10kg dog should drink less than 700mL per day. Dogs drinking more than this amount should be investigated by a vet.

Most dogs with excessive thirst will drink well over 100mL/kg/day. To measure the actual amount, mark the level of water in the bowl and after 24 hours refill it to the same mark using a measuring jug. Make sure all sources of water have been accounted for and other animals have their own separate water supplies.

If the result is high, here’s what your vet will be thinking about.

Why Dogs Drink Excessive Water

There are five common reasons why you might notice your dog wanting more water without other signs of illness.

Then there are the common causes where there will also usually be other, more obvious signs of a problem. These include:

There are in fact many other rare causes such as Addison’s disease, portosystemic shunts, hypercalcaemia (usually from cancer) or diabetes insipidus but don’t worry too much about these. The trick is simply to know that routine blood tests and urine testing should get you a long way towards finding the answer. Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously.

Early detection is vital for some diseases. So if you have a dog who starts drinking more, even if they don’t seem unwell, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your dog.

Related: Why dogs pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Cat Is Drinking A Lot

cat drinking water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Cat Drinks More Than Usual

  1. It could be due to diabetes, kidney or thyroid disease
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top three causes can all be managed or treated if detected in time
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

All jokes aside, cats really do have a drinking problem. I’ve talked before about cats not drinking enough water but that’s nothing compared with what happens when cats are too thirsty.

A cat who starts drinking or urinating more than they used to is almost certainly in big trouble. The good news is, it’s not an emergency and there’s plenty you can do if you find the cause before your cat gets sick.

Why Do Cats Drink Too Much?

There are five common reasons why you might notice your cat wanting more water. Read more about each at the links.

The last one should be obvious but it really is surprising how much more water cats need to drink on dry foods. Diarrhoea should also be obvious but many cats don’t use litter boxes so you might need to go poking about (quite literally).

Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously. Any change in a cat’s behaviour almost never happens just by chance. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog, that’s it.

More About Kidney Disease

I’d like to say a few more words about kidney disease; it’s the most common cause of drinking excessively and the most common illness of older cats. Most cat lovers will at some point have to face it so it’s good to be prepared.

Correct treatment of kidney problems depends on knowing both the stage of the disease and the unique features of each cat. It can be fiendishly complex and no two cats are treated the same. You can read all about this at our kidney disease page but here’s a quick summary of what your vet should be thinking and doing.

Tests For Kidney Problems

  • Blood and urine testing. No animal can be diagnosed as having kidney failure without both of these. That’s because dehydration from other causes looks exactly the same until you check the urine concentration. Blood tests like these also show us related problems like low potassium or high phosphate.
  • Blood pressure measurement. Kidney cats are often hypertensive; if you don’t fix this, they can go blind from retinal detachment and kidney problems worsen quickly.
  • Sterile urine culture. Not only are kidney infections more common than realised, they are great to discover. My own cat had one and by controlling it, her kidney problem got better, not worse.
  • Urine protein: creatinine ratio. Urine protein loss is a sign of glomerular damage and can be treated just by adding another tablet.

Read how to collect a urine sample here.

Treatment Of Kidney Disease

It all depends on the individual. The most important therapy for the majority of cats is a change to a renal support diet. By reducing blood phosphate levels and adding extra nutrients, these diets can make a huge difference to your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.

There are also several drugs we use to treat cats with kidney problems, though most cats only need a few of these.

  • Phosphate binders are needed if the special diet doesn’t do enough on its own
  • Potassium supplements fight the increased loss of this electrolyte from the kidneys
  • Drugs like benzepril or telmisartan reduce glomerular hypertension
  • Antihypertensives like amlodipine control high blood pressure
  • Appetite stimulants help cats maintain body weight, especially in later stages

The most important thing, however, is close monitoring. There’s no such thing as ‘wait and see’ with a cat who might have kidney problems. If they get sick, the faster we get them rehydrated the better their chances are of returning to normal.

Early detection is even more important. So if you have a cat who starts drinking more, even if they haven’t yet lost weight, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your cat.

Related: Why cats pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

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