Why is Your Dog Drinking a Lot of Water?

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/20/20242-4 minutes
person in green pants holding a water bowl out with a yellow dog drinking from it

Dogs can end up drinking a lot of water for many different reasons. Just like humans reaching for their water bottle more often on hot summer days or after a salty snack, our dogs could also become thirsty more quickly depending on how hot they are or what food they eat. 

However, there are certain underlying health problems that could also lead to extra trips to the water bowl. A visit to the vet is the best next step to take when you notice your dog’s new drinking habit. If you are able to quantify how much your pet drinks each day, by measuring each time you top up the bowl and keeping a tally, that can be very helpful information for your vet. Here is what you need to know about causes of excessive drinking in dogs. 

How Much Should Dogs Drink?

It depends on their age, breed size, activity levels and diet but normally a dog should drink about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. If they go above this amount of water, it may be that your dog is drinking excessively although there can be a lot of variation between individuals. Of course, if it’s very hot weather your dog may be drinking more than usual, but if you can see no reason for extra thirst then it could be a health issue. 

6 Reasons Why Your Dog is Drinking a Lot of Water

Dogs can drink water excessively when they’re bored, hot, after eating salty foods or just because they’re simply dehydrated. However, there other causes that might explain why your dog is drinking so much water such as medication side-effects or possible illnesses.  

1. Your Dog is Dehydrated

Increased thirst, excessive panting and dry gums are just some of the possible warning signs of dehydration in your pet. Make sure you always keep water bowls topped up and within easy reach, so your pup has constant access to a drink. Older pets in particular may need a few bowls spread around the house so that they don’t have to wander too far to quench their thirst. 

If you suspect your dog is drinking a lot more because of dehydration, this can rapidly lead to heatstroke which is a medical emergency. Make sure you move your pet somewhere cool and offer them water, but do not try to force them to drink as this can be very stressful for you and your pet. If your pet’s symptoms do not start to improve then you should contact a vet for advice. 

2. Your Dog is Hot

We’ve all been there. When summer days are particularly hot or after an intense workout, our bodies will need more water than we usually drink. Dogs are no different and when they lose water due to excessive panting, after playing or during warm days, they will need to replace it by drinking more. However, if your dog is showing any signs of heatstroke rather than just being slightly hot, you should contact a vet straight away. These can include drooling, lethargy, restlessness, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. 

3. Your Dog is Bored

There must be a reason for the excessive thirst, right? Not always. It turns out that pups, especially younger ones, can start drinking water for no reason other than a behavioral problem linked to boredom. 

In fact, a lack of suitable mental and physical stimulation can lead many pets down the path of directing their energy into excessive behaviors, whether that’s too much barking, too much biting or too much drinking. If you think that’s what’s making your dog drink a lot more water than usual, here are a few brain games and puzzles for dogs that will help to keep your pet entertained. 

4. Your Dog Has Eaten Certain Saltier Foods

Owners with pups that are always thirsty might want to pay attention to what their pets are eating too. If they keep getting scraps of human food from the dinner table, these could be too salty for them. Another important consideration when it comes to diet and its connection to dogs drinking a lot is that pets on dry food are likely to drink more water than those eating a wet food. Discuss your dog’s diet and excessive thirst with the vet for the best help and advice. 

5. Your Dog’s Medication Can Be a Cause

Medication such as steroids could also be the reason why your dog is drinking a lot of water. As always, the vet will be able to recommend the best next steps. This could be trying a different treatment or changes in their diet that help incorporate more wet food. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your vet when you notice any changes in their drinking habits. 

6. Your Dog Has an Illness

Drinking more water than usual could also be a sign of an underlying illness. Unfortunately, there are many conditions that can be associated with this symptom. Anything from dog diabetes to hormonal diseases such as Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease could be behind your pet’s excessive thirst. Drinking lots of water is also on the list of symptoms for canine kidney insufficiency and liver disease

What Should I Do if My Dog is Drinking Too Much?

Although it can be concerning if you notice a change in drinking habits in your dog, there are ways to minimize excessive drinking. First, you need to discover the reason why your dog is drinking more than usual. If you think it is because they are just an energetic dog, who tends to spend most of their day on high alert, then this is usually nothing to worry about.  

However, excessive drinking can also be caused by underlying health conditions. If you are struggling to determine why your dog is drinking more than usual, then you should contact your vet.  

What Not to Do if Your Dog is Drinking Excessively?

Drinking excessive amounts of water can prompt excessive urination too, which may give you a reason to act. However, do not restrict your dog’s water consumption by moving water away from them. This may result in them becoming dehydrated which can make their condition worse. 

Although there are many possible reasons for your dog’s extra trips to their water bowl, some more serious than others, it is important you don’t dismiss excessive thirst as just a simple change in their habits. Get a feel for what quantity of water your dog usually consumes in a day and if they start to go over their normal limit, look out for any other symptoms as well. This information will help your vet decide to make the best plan for diagnosis and management. 

How to Keep an Eye on My Dog Drinking a Lot

If you want to keep an eye on the amount your dog is drinking to determine whether they are dehydrated or suffering from something else, it is easier to notice any changes if your dog develops a water-drinking routine.  

Setting up a water drinking routine for your dog is simple: 

  • Pay attention to the amount you put in the bowl every time you fill it up, and make sure to see how much is left at the end of the day  
  • Refill your dog bowl at around the same time every day and leave it down in the same place  
  • Make sure to fill the bowl to the same amount each time, and to also always use the same bowl 

Water is very important to your dog’s overall health, never leave your dog without water. If you are concerned about your dog drinking a lot, then you should give your vet a call to make sure they aren’t suffering from something detrimental. 

For more expert tips on dog health, explore our other dog symptoms and issues articles. 

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