Excessive Thirst, Should You Be Worried That Your Dog is Showing This Symptom?
Excessive Thirst in dogs also called Polydipsia is a condition experienced by thousands of dogs all over the world, especially those who are already aging. There are several possible factors that can cause excessive thirst in canines, ranging from benign to serious health risks. This article takes a look at some of these probable causes to help you pinpoint what is causing the excessive thirst of your pet.
How much is too much water?
Before looking at what causes excessive thirst in canines, it’s important to qualify what excessive actually means. Dogs have different water requirements depending on their breed, size, and condition. On average, a canine should drink 3 to 4 cups of water for every 20 lbs that he or she has. For example, a German shepherd that weighs 60 lbs should drink 12 cups of water daily. Pregnant, lactating, and working dogs will have a higher water requirement given their situation. Also, excessive heat will mean a higher water requirement as well, and some dogs may even require double the amount of liquids in hot days. Aside from these exceptions, this rule is usually observed. A dog that shows excessive thirst can be suffering from a health problem.
If you’re not sure whether your pet is showing excessive thirst or not, monitor your dog for a few days. Remove all possible water sources but the water bowl, and make sure that your pet is the only one drinking from it. Measure the amount of water that your dog drinks so you can see whether he or she is showing signs of excessive thirst.
What causes dogs excessive thirst?
There are several possible causes of excessive thirst in canines. These include:
- Heat and exercise. Sometimes, the reason behind the excessive thirst of your pet doesn’t actually pose a health risk. If your dog gets too much exercise or is exposed to hot weather, he or she will need to drink more water to avoid getting dehydrated.
- Food. Food that’s rich in sodium can lead to your pet becoming excessively thirsty. Other symptoms that indicate that your dog has too much sodium in his or her diet include vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Food that’s too dry can also make your dog drink an excess of water. Changing your dog’s food should take care of the problem.
- Medications. Some medications, such as cortisone, can also cause excessive thirst in canines. Some drug ingredients can interfere with the normal function of the liver or kidneys, causing him or her to drink more than he or she usually does. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing extreme thirst because of the drug, talk to the veterinarian and ask if there are any possible alternatives to the medication before you stop administering the drug to your pet.
- Abuse. Dogs that have been abused or abandoned may drink excessive amounts of water compulsively. This can also be done by dogs that are going through too much stress.
- Diarrhea. Dogs can also drink large amounts of water when they have diarrhea to make up for the amount of fluids lost due to their illness.
- Kidney problems. Excessive thirst can also indicate kidney failure. This is typically experienced by aging dogs, as their kidneys are no longer able to filter the fluids in the body, which is why they try to compensate by drinking more water. Defects or abnormalities in the kidney tubules can also cause excessive thirst in canines.
- Diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Excessive thirst can also be a sign that your pet is suffering from canine diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Other symptoms of these diseases include weight loss and lack of energy. The thirst will increase as the condition worsens. Overweight dogs are more likely to experience these conditions compared to dogs that aren’t. Similarly, purebred dogs are also more prone to hyperthyroidism and diabetes compared to mixed breeds.
- Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is another disease commonly experienced by older dogs that can cause excessive thirst and urination. This is caused by their adrenal glands uncontrollably producing large amounts of the hormone glucocorticoid. The overproduction of this hormone is often caused by a tumor, benign or malignant, growing on the pituitary or adrenal glands.
- Dementia. Dementia, another problem experienced by older dogs, can also lead to your pet drinking excessively.
- Excessive thirst in female dogs. Excessive thirst pregnancy and pyometra (infection in the uterus) are problems that some female dogs may experience. Pyometra can lead to death if left untreated.
Treatment of dogs excessive thirst
Treatment of excessive thirst will depend on what caused the problem in the first place. If the condition is caused by environmental factors, such as excessive exercise, hot weather, or not being given enough water, it’s okay if you don’t bring your dog to the veterinarian. However, if the problem seems to be caused by something internal, it’s important that you bring your pet to the vet, as leaving the condition unchecked can lead to problems that can even be fatal.
Veterinarians will usually perform a variety of tests to see what caused excessive thirst. These include:
- Urinalysis. As the name suggests, urinalysis is the examination of your dog’s urine to check what its composition is. Diluted urine is usually indicative of a kidney disorder, while concentrated urine can mean dehydration.
- Serum biochemistry profile. The serum biochemistry profile is a test taken in conjunction with urinalysis to check what caused the excessive thirst of your dog. A blood sample is taken from your pet to check its chemical composition to see if it indicates what the cause of the extreme thirst is.
- Complete blood count (CBC). A blood sample is taken from your dog to get the count of how much red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are in your dogs blood. Too much WBCs can indicate Cushing’s disease, while too little red blood cells can mean anemia.
If you notice that your dog is showing signs of excessive thirst that’s due to something other than environmental factors (i.e. not having enough water, hot weather), don’t wait for the condition to worsen before seeking help. Bring your pet to the veterinarian so you can get your dog checked out for any health problems.
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