Dogs are messy, hit-and-miss drinkers, so it can sometimes be hard to know just how much water they get in a day.
Most need about an ounce of fluids per pound of body weight per day, so a 10-pound dog needs a bit over a cup of clean water daily. Really active or lactating dogs may need more and puppies generally drink more than adult dogs. If your dog drinks a lot more than that, it may signal a health problem. Read on to learn more.
Why Is Your Dog Thirsty?
Many things can affect how much your dog drinks, from weather to activity level to diet.
Common sense should be your guide when it comes to your dog's thirst. If your canine companion is drinking so excessively you're noticing the change, it's probably time to talk to your vet who, with a few tests, can get at the root cause of your dog's increased thirst.
In the meantime, a few reasons why your dog might be unusually thirsty include:
Hot summer days, play, exercise, illness, infection -- all of these can lead to dehydration in dogs and trigger them to seek water. Along with increased thirst, signs that your pet may be dehydrated include: lethargy; dry gums and tongue; and thick rope-like saliva.
Dehydration can turn life-threatening fast, so if you suspect your dog is very dehydrated, seek veterinary care right away. If your dog seems mildly dehydrated but is not vomiting, give your pet small amounts of water -- one teaspoon for a little dog, 1-2 tablespoons for larger dogs -- every ten minutes for a few hours.
Don't let your dog have free access to a lot of liquids when they are dehydrated, as drinking too much too fast could cause vomiting.
Sometimes, however, it may not be the condition itself causing your dog's excessive thirst, but the medication used to treat it. Talk to a vet about your dog's medication and its side effects; if drugs are behind your dog's thirst, the vet may be able to lower the dosage.
Just as with people, some drugs can lead to excessive thirst in your dog, including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone, which may be used to treat many conditions in dogs, including asthma, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Heart failure drugs, such as furosemide, lead to increased urine production and a compensatory increase in thirst.
- Seizure medications like phenobarbital may have side effects that include excessive thirst and urination, as well as excessive appetite.
A dry food diet -- which may be as little as 5%-10% water -- can also lead to noticeable thirst in your dog. High sodium foods will also cause your dog to drink more.
Large amounts of salt can be poisonous to your pet, so avoid sharing highly salty "people" food with your dog. Signs your dog may have eaten too many sodium-rich treats include tremors, diarrhea, depression, and vomiting.
Keeping an Eye on Water Consumption
It's easier to notice changes in your dog's thirst or drinking behavior if you develop a water bowl routine.
- Refill your dog's bowl at roughly the same time daily.
- Fill the bowl to about the same level each time.
- Pay attention to how much you put in each day and how much is left.
Water is critical to your dog's health and well-being. Never deprive your dog of water. If you're worried your dog is drinking too much (or not enough), don't wait, give your vet a call.