If your dog has been bellying up to the water bowl more frequently than he used to, it is important to assess his overall health and to determine the cause of his increased thirst. Just like their human counterparts, dogs occasionally need to take in more water, such as during a summer heat wave or following a round of vigorous exercise. When the drinking habit becomes consistent and is unaccompanied by these obvious explanations, trouble may be brewing with your furry friend's health. Understanding some of the causes of polydipsia, or increase in water intake, can help you to work with your veterinarian to treat the underlying condition and improve your dog's quality of life.
Hydration Is a Balancing Act
What goes in must come out. Dogs must drink water to prevent dehydration, and they must also excrete water to prevent them from being too hydrated. Increased urination, or polyuria, usually accompanies polydipsia. The more fluid your dog passes, the more he needs to drink in an attempt to make up for the fluid loss. Unless you always measure the amount of water that you place in his bowl, it can be difficult to observe how much your dog drinks, especially if he's a sloppy drinker who splashes half of the contents onto the floor and into his beard. The signs that you are most likely to notice if your dog is experiencing polydipsia or polyuria include the following:
- You find that you have to refill his water bowl more often than you used to.
- He has acquired a new habit of attempting to drink from other sources, such as the toilet bowl, backyard swimming pool, birdbath or rain puddles.
- He asks to go outdoors more frequently than he used to.
- He now asks to go outdoors in the middle of the night.
- You are now finding piddle puddles in the home when he is left alone for a duration during which he never had prior accidents.
If you are observing any of these signs, it is important to schedule an examination by your veterinarian sooner than later.
Simple Explanations for Polydipsia
There are a number of potential causes for polydipsia that can be easily identified, and most of these causes are temporary or intermittent. Some of these simple explanations include the following:
- It is a hot day. Be sure to address this immediately by getting your dog into an air-conditioned room to prevent heat stroke, which is life threatening.
- Your dog has been engaged in a vigorous play session or has been running laps around the backyard.
- Your dog is a hunting or working dog and has been physically active in the field.
- Your dog is a new mother and is lactating.
Once these temporary causes abate, your dog's normal drinking habits should return.
Medical Causes of Polydipsia
Any temporary infectious illness that presents with a fever or diarrhea can cause temporary polydipsia and polyuria. There are also several medical conditions that present with the symptoms of polydipsia and polyuria. Some of the most common such conditions include the following:
- Diabetes mellitus, which is also accompanied by symptoms of increased appetite and weight loss
- Kidney disease, which is also accompanied by symptoms of decreased appetite and weight loss
- Cushing's disease, which is also accompanied by symptoms of a dramatic increase in appetite, hair loss and a pot-bellied physique
- Liver disease, which is also accompanied by symptoms of decreased appetite, weight loss, jaundice and vomiting or diarrhea
The above conditions can be diagnosed through laboratory tests on blood and urine samples, and most of them can be managed with medication, diet and diligent monitoring through periodic examinations and tests.
Treatments Can Cause Polydipsia
In some cases, the treatment could be the culprit of your dog's increased water intake rather than the condition. The following medications carry the potential side effect of polydipsia:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as steroidal medications
- Drugs used to prevent seizures
- Diuretic drugs used to treat heart failure
Always ask your veterinarian what side effects to be on the lookout for whenever a medication is prescribed for your dog, and be sure to report any observed side effects to your veterinarian. He or she may be able to adjust the dosage so that your dog still receives the desired therapeutic effect while making fewer demands for free refills at the water bowl.
If you suspect that your canine companion is drinking too much, never attempt to curb his water consumption by denying him water. Such action can quickly result in dehydration, which is life threatening. Instead, fill the bowl again while calling your veterinarian, such as at Centennial Animal Hospital, to schedule an appointment. The sooner some of the more serious medical conditions are addressed, the easier it is to get a handle on them before they progress toward even bigger problems that are more difficult to manage.