Is my pet drinking too much?

Tuesday 27th April 2021

10 causes of increased thirst in pets

Increased thirst (or polydipsia) may arise for a variety of reasons. Some of the explanations below are circumstantial and should not be cause for concern:

1.     Warmer weather and increased humidity.
2.     Increased level of activity / excitement / anxiety. 

Read our article on highly active dogs here
Read our article on anxious dogs here 

3.     Eating salty additions / treats.
4.     A change from wet food to dry food or increasing the proportion of dry to wet food. 

Read our advice on changing your pet’s diet here 

5.     Changing from a diet which is lower in sodium to one which contains a higher level.

However, increased thirst can also be symptomatic of a medical or behavioral issue such as:

1.     Renal dysfunction

Read our advice on feeding pets with renal problems here

2.     Liver disease
3.     Diabetes insipidus
4.     A side effect of certain drugs e.g. diuretics which remove excess fluid from the body
5.     A sudden fixation or obsession with drinking

So how much is too much?

If your pet is suddenly drinking noticeably ‘a lot more than usual’, it is very important to seek veterinary advice if matters do not resolve quickly.  If the excessive fluid intake reaches extremes, it may cause water intoxication.

The normal average water intake for mammalian species is 44-66 ml/kg body weight but, if in doubt, ask your vet for guidance for your particular pet’s needs.

Your vet will be able to diagnose or eliminate medical causes and may perform a urine specific gravity test during your visit, a relatively inexpensive and non-invasive means to check that the kidneys are able to concentrate the urine properly.

It can be helpful for your vet if you are able to measure your pet’s fluid intake prior to your appointment. This is easily done in a single pet household by filling the drinking bowl with a measured amount of water and topping it up whenever necessary with a further measured volume. At the end of a 24-hour period you then measure the amount left in the bowl and subtract this from the total.

It is important to be vigilant as cats and dogs may also be drinking water from another source such as puddles, toilet bowls, dripping taps etc.

Important note. Never restrict fluids or prevent your pet from drinking before seeking advice from your vet!

Excerpts from fact sheet ‘Increased thirst’ by Ness Bird - Nutrition Adviser and RVN CertCFVHNut ©

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