There are dogs obsessed with drinking water and there are dogs who drink loads of water because of an underlying medical condition. An important question to ask is whether the behavior is a new one or whether the affected dog has been this way ever since the owner got him. In dogs recently rescued from a shelter, water obsession is not uncommon, considering that a shelter environment may be stressful and increased drinking may be a coping mechanism. If a dog though becomes obsessed with drinking water out of the blue, a potential underlying medical problem must be investigated.
Avoid Restricting Water
Dogs obsessed with drinking water are often simply dogs drinking because it's very hot or they have exercised heavily.
Generally, the normal intake of water in dogs is 1 ounce (30ml) of water per pound of body weight in 24 hours, explains veterinarian Dr. Dave.
If your dog is drinking obsessively and also peeing a lot or having accidents in the home, and you cannot find a reasonable explanation, it's important to avoid restricting water as this may not be a safe practice.
There is a good reason why restricting water is not safe in a dog who is drinking and peeing a whole lot.
The dog may be suffering from an underlying medical condition where excess volume of urine is being produced. In this case, the increased drinking is a compensatory mechanism in response to the large volume of urine produced, explains veterinarian Dr. Shadwick.
Therefore avoid restricting water until you have had your vet rule any possible medical conditions.
Possible Medical Problems
Dogs obsessed with drinking water may do so because of medical reasons, it's therefore important to rule out several potential medical problems. Psychogenic polydipsia is indeed a disorder that's diagnosed by exclusion.
One potential medical problem that may appear as obsessive drinking is diabetes insipidus, that is, excessive blood glucose levels.
Another possible medical condition is early kidney disease or early liver disease. Both these conditions may cause an increase in drinking while other symptoms may not be visible until later on as the disease progresses.
Other possible medical causes include Cushing's disease (excessive blood cortisol levels), Addison's disease (underproduction of cortisol hormone) and hypercalcemia (high calcium levels), but generally this occurs secondary to cancer.
Several of these medical conditions can be ruled out by having the vet perform some baseline tests such as a complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile, a urinalysis, and a urine culture.
On top of medical conditions, sometimes in dogs obsessed with drinking water, the increased drinking can be caused by certain drugs such as steroids. High-sodium diets may also cause increased drinking.
Dogs Obsessed with Drinking Water
Once all medical causes can be ruled out, the veterinarian may suspect a case of psychogenic polydipsia. Psychogenic means "having a psychological origin or cause rather than a physical one" and polydispsia is the medical term for increased drinking. Put these words together and you have compulsive drinking in dogs.
Canine psychogenic polydipsia is not really a disease per se', but rather an annoyance to the owner who may end up cleaning accidents all the time considering that increased drinking may lead to increased urination up to the point of not being able to hold it anymore. This condition though is overall not very common.
If you suspect your dog may have this condition, it may help to consult with a veterinarian specializing in dog behavior. The veterinary behaviorist can make sure there are no underlying medical causes, and if the case truly turns out being psychogenic polydipsia, the vet may suggest behavior modification, psychogenic drugs and partial water restriction.
"Affected animals are usually young hyperactive breeds large breed dogs that have been placed in exercise restrictive environments or subjected to some sort of stress."~Susan M. Meric DVM