There are over twenty common (and less common) causes of polydipsia (drinking too much). From diabetes and Cushings disease to compulsive behavioral overdrinking. Some are easily treated while others can only be maintained. But it is important to not restrict the dog’s water until a cause can be found. Some diseases will cause severe effects –even death- if the dog’s water is cut back too much.
Some pets are big drinkers – always have been. So it is not just about how much your pet is drinking but how much change there is in how much your pet is drinking. Compare current intake to what is normal for this pet. In general terms, a dog should drink 60 mls of water per kilogram of weight – so a 70 pound Labrador would be expected to drink 1.8 L of water (about 8 cups) a day.
If your dog drinks significantly more than this on a regular basis then it is time to investigate. Usually the veterinarian will begin with a general physical to rule out obvious abnormalities. Then a urine test (bring a first thing in the morning sample to the appointment) and blood work to evaluate the “inside” of your dog.
Hopefully these results will provide the answer but sometimes further testing is required. Ultrasound examinations or radiographs can be used to look at internal organ abnormalities or for the presence of some tumours.
By: Dr. Jennifer Merry BSc (Agr), DVM