It might be more alarming if your buddy suddenly shies away from the water bowl completely – but if you’re dealing with a dog drinking a lot of water (or at least more than usual), that may be a cause for concern too.

Because while it might be due to benign reasons like a hot day outdoors, excessive thirst in dogs can be a warning sign of more serious health issues down the line.

Though you might be wondering:

  • Exactly how much water should a dog drink a day?
  • What does it mean when an older dog starts drinking a lot of water?
  • How come you’ve now got such a thirsty dog – seemingly out of nowhere?

Let’s dive into each of your questions, one by one – and what you can do to help your buddy live their best, healthiest life by your side. (Including pre-empting whether your dog’s sick by monitoring their behavior.)

How much water should a dog drink a day?

In general, the amount of water your buddy needs per day depends on factors like:

  • Their size
  • How active they are
  • How hot (or not) it is outdoors
  • The kind of food they eat

Which we’ve summarized for you in this handy infographic right here:

Infographic summarizing how much water a dog should drink per day
Zentek, Jürgen & Meyer, Helmut (2016).”Ernährung des Hundes: Grundlagen – Fütterung – Diätetik. Enke publishing house.
A dog running through a sunny forest

“Most (dogs) 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.

If your dog drinks a lot more than that, it may signal a health problem.”

– Web MD1

Why is my dog drinking so much water? (The less concerning reasons)

Now just like humans, your dog’s level of thirst can have its ups and downs throughout the day. But in certain cases – like with puppies or dogs nursing a litter of newborns – they might drink a bit extra.

So before you find yourself worrying, here are some the more benign reasons you’ve now got a dog drinking a lot of water:

It’s hot outdoors

Just like us, heat puts a strain on your dog’s body. As a result, they might pant more heavily than usual – causing them to lose moisture from their tongues, throats, and upper respiratory tracts.

Funnily enough, this is supposed to help cool them down – but can also lead to increased fluid loss.

So if it’s a hot day outdoors, it’s quite normal for your dog to drink more water than usual. Just make sure they have access to fresh water and shady areas at all times. (Else they could run the risk of heat stroke!)

Read more:

A woman and dog playing in a garden

Your dog’s gotten more active

Roped in your dog to your new running routine? Or are you both heading outdoors more often for walks or hikes? Either way, increased activity can also lead to a dog drinking a lot of water. (Or at least more than usual.)

⚠️ Just make sure you’re both active in a way that doesn’t harm your dog’s health down the line. Not all dogs respond as well to an increase in activity – some might even experience difficulties breathing or overheating while out on runs or hikes together.

So make sure to:

  • Tailor your activity to your dog’s age, fitness level, and breed.
  • Find a balance – too little exercise and your dog might grow overweight and ill. Too much exercise and they might end up with injuries or mobility-affecting conditions like arthritis.
  • Take plenty of (water) breaks and warm up thoroughly before you get started.
A woman training her dog outdoors

💡An Activity Tracker built for dogs can help you set goals for how much exercise you want your buddy to hit per day – and keep you motivated to their health and well-being for the long run.

Read more:

Your dog’s been exercising their brain

Much like physical activity, keeping your dog mentally active can be one of the best investments you can make for their health and well-being.

Meaning activities like:

  • Teaching them new tricks
  • Revisiting their obedience training
  • Trying out new training methods, like clicker training
  • Investing in food puzzles and interactive toys
  • Increasing the amount of time they spend around other pets and people

(All of which can actually make them a bit thirstier as well!)

A woman training a dog indoors

Why? Because much like with us, dogs’ brains are mostly made up of water.

And the more you get them to use their brains in new and different ways, it uses up more water.

And, well, knowing how many of these activities do involve some running and playing around, it’s pretty normal they might end up with a thirsty dog in your hands.

Read more:

You’ve switched up your dog’s diet

If you’ve switched from wet food to dry food or just generally switched up your buddy’s diet, you might end up with a thirsty dog at hand.

Dry foods tend to be a lot less hydrating than wet foods. So it’s normal for your dog to head to the water bowl more often.

Just make sure to discuss any changes with your vet beforehand – so you know you’re giving your buddy enough to keep them happy and healthy.

Two Corgis sitting by food bowls

Medications

Some kinds of medication might lead your dog to pee more – resulting in them drinking more water to make up for the loss. Including:

  • Diuretics, which are often used to treat heart and kidney disease.
  • Glucocorticoids, which are used to treat inflammation and allergies. (Like if your dog is sensitive to pollen.)
  • Anti-convulsants, which are used to treat epileptic seizures in dogs. These can affect your dog’s kidneys or lead to changes in electrolyte balance.
  • Psychotropic medication, which are used to treat behavioral disorders. These can affect your dog’s central nervous system or indirectly affect their metabolism or urine excretion.

Read more: Dog Pollen Allergy: Dealing With The Springtime Sniffles

A vet administering a tablet to a dog

💡If your dog is already on medication, make sure to keep track of any increase in thirst – and bring it up with your vet the next time you’re dropping by. This will help you both figure out whether your dog’s extra water drinking is normal or if there’s cause for concern.

Like with these medical conditions that might be deadly if left untreated.

Medical causes of excessive thirst in dogs

Now once you’ve ruled out the weather, exercise, training, and medication – here are some easy-to-miss health conditions that might cause your dog to drink more water than usual.

Diabetes mellitus

Much like us, dogs are also vulnerable to diabetes – especially the older they are, or if they’re on the overweight side.

With diabetes, your dog’s body doesn’t properly transport any sugar from their blood into their cells (for energy.) This can lead to increased blood sugar – as well as increased thirst. You might also find your dog losing weight without a change in diet.

A vet checking up on a dog at a clinic

Read more:

Gastrointestinal problems

Take your eyes off them for just a second – and your dog’s eaten something they shouldn’t have. Which, depending on what it is, might be fatally toxic if you aren’t vigilant!

So besides being mindful of what food are off-limits for your buddy, make sure to inform your friends and loved ones too. (You want to avoid one of them feeding your dog something potentially dangerous by accident – especially if you’re hosting them for a big dinner or similar.)

A woman and dog inspecting a fridge

If you aren’t able to intervene immediately, your buddy might end up with a bad case of stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. All of which make them lose fluids and even end up dehydrated – leading to them drinking more water to make up for the loss.

Read more:

💡So here’s a counter-intuitive solution: figure out where your dog’s off wandering throughout the day.

Why? Because if you’re tracking your dog’s movements, it can actually help you figure out if:

  • They’re exploring areas they might eat something potentially fatal. (Including the nearby garbage dump or even at your neighbors who aren’t aware what foods are off-limits for them.)
  • They’re wandering into places they might come in contact with other toxic substances. (Like pesticides and common gardening items like snail bait.)

In fact, vets even have a term called “garbage gut” to describe gastrointestinal issues in dogs who are off scavenging in trash heaps. (Or just generally eating stuff that isn’t great for them.)

A white dog spending time with a group of friends outdoors

It’s why investing in a dog GPS collar can be a lifesaver – like with this dog parent:

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Liver & urinary diseases

Your dog’s liver, bladder, and kidneys all play important roles in their body’s water balance. So if they’re infected, you might find your buddy:

  • Needing to pee more than usual – but also in smaller amounts
  • Showing blood in their urine
  • Peeing around the house
  • Showing a swollen, distended abdomen area that’s sensitive to touch

All these diseases might cause your dog to drink more water in order to pee out the toxins.

Golden retriever liegt krank auf einer Ledercouch

Infections

Different types of infection – including viral and bacterial infections that cause fever – might cause your dog to grow thirstier.

Cushing’s Syndrome

This condition leads to an overproduction of cortisol (the stress hormone.) Which can affect your dog’s metabolism and cause them to drink more.

A dog running through a sunny forest

Drinking more can be a sign of illness in a dog, from more temporary conditions such as a stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhoea, to more serious issues such as cancer, fever, liver disease or infection.

As always, knowing your dog and what’s normal behaviour for them is essential to providing them with good care.”

– Petwise3

What does it mean when an older dog starts drinking more water?

Senior dogs tend to slow down in general – which might be one relatively benign explanation for why they’re drinking less water as they age. (I.e., they’re not as active as before.)

But at the same time, your grand-paw is also more vulnerable to the health conditions we’ve covered. Many of these can affect their metabolism and/or kidney function, leading them to drink more water.

Read more: Senior Dogs: Helping Your Buddy Age Gracefully

These might include:

  • Dehydration – whether from medication, the weather, or another health condition
  • Urinary problems, including bladder infections and kidney failure
  • Uterine problems in older female dogs, including pyometra
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • High blood calcium

And left untreated, many of these diseases can be deadly.

💡But on the bright side, with a little vigilance and monitoring, you can catch on to a change in your dog’s behavior early – and get them to a vet for a checkup before they get worse.

How monitoring your dog’s behavior looks like in practice

Now your dog isn’t likely to come complaining to you when they’re feeling poorly. If anything, they’re more likely to mask any signs of pain, discomfort, or distress – so it’s easy to miss out on the signs they’re sick until it’s too late.

But here’s a simple, observable behavior that can tell a lot about how well they’re doing, health-wise: how active they are.

💡 In fact, vets even recommend tracking your dog’s everyday activity – especially how long they can keep up with you on walks.

Why? Because the minute you notice a drop in your dog’s activity or if they seem generally less enthusiastic about walks or playtime, you can take action earlier and get them to a vet for a checkup.

A dog running through a sunny forest

Keep track of your dog’s energy levels, especially how long they are able to walk.

If you notice significant declines, it could be a sign of pain, heart disease, or other illness.”

VCA Animal Hospitals

Now you could jot down your dog’s activity in a journal – or you could use an Activity Tracker to monitor this for you automatically.

Either way, it’ll help you have a more productive conversation with your vet – especially if you’ve got actionable data at hand.

In fact, it’s actually why dog parents around the world – just like you – are investing in our life-saving technology.

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground

Because with its built-in motion detector, your trusty Tractive device picks up on your dog’s active minutes throughout the day.

Which, with time, can help you figure out:

  • What’s a normal level of activity for your dog
  • How active your dog is compared to other, similar dogs of their age and breed
  • Whether there’s an abnormal spike or drop in your dog’s activity

No need to rely on memory or risk missing some important detail when you’re at your vet’s.

💡Rather, with your Activity Tracking data, you can avoid paying a hefty vet bill from treating any disease – and take steps to prevent it in the first place.

Tractive Trustpilot review

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Water intoxication in dogs: What to watch out for

What many dog parents also need to watch out for is water poisoning – or when your dog ingests too much (or contaminated) water. This applies not only to the water bowl, but also when you two are out swimming or playing in a pond, lake, river, or even the sea together.

Now it’s most likely your dog loves to play fetch – whether into a body of water or elsewhere. And if you’ve got a dog that loves playing in winter, you might’ve actually flung a ball into the lake for them to fetch.

A dog swimming in a pond with a green ball in their mouth

⚠️ But in doing so, your dog’s mouth is so wide open that they might end up swallowing a ton of water at once. If your dog ingests at least a third of their body weight in water – they might be at risk for water intoxication.4

When this much water enters their bloodstream, it can disturb their body’s electrolyte balance – especially their levels of sodium. Left untreated, this can even lead to death.

Signs your dog might’ve drunk too much water

If you think your dog’s ingested more water than they can handle, it can be deadly if you miss out on it. So make sure to watch out for these signs:

  • Distended abdomen
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Heavy salivation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrolled peeing
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seeming dazed or uncoordinated

What should I do if my dog drinks too much water?

Water intoxication is an emergency. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to a vet as soon as possible. If you can, call them in advance so that they’re prepared for your arrival.

On your way to the vet, give your dog something salty to eat – like salt sticks or salty cookies, if you have some available.

Corgi tobt im Wasser umher

Avoiding water intoxication

Now if you’ve got a dog that loves being in water, it’s a good idea to:

  • Keep an eye on how long they’ve been swimming or just being in water in general
  • Ensure they take enough breaks
  • Watch out for the signs of water intoxication or overexertion
  • Use a frisbee or a safe stick substitute for fetch rather than a ball (so your dog won’t have to keep their mouth so wide open when jumping in)

And most importantly…

  • Keep track of your dog’s location, so you can prevent them from wandering (unsupervised) into an area full of pools, ponds, or lakes.

Which, if you’ve invested in a Tractive device, means you’ve got everything you need for your buddy’s safety, health, and well-being – all in one device.

Tractive Trustpilot review

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Got a dog drinking a lot of water & don’t know why?

First, double check if the weather, your dog’s daily walks, training, or any medications might be the culprit.

(Plus, if you’re not sure how active your dog has been or whether anything’s changed – go for an Activity Tracker that’s built for them.)

Next, keep out an eye for any symptoms of illness besides your dog’s sudden drinking – like a drop in their activity, a loss of appetite, or general weakness or disorientation. If you’re noticing these persist over a few days, it might be time to drop by your vet.

Because besides heat or exercise, a number of serious health conditions can also cause excessive thirst in dogs. Including:

  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal problems (especially from eating something potentially toxic)
  • Liver & kidney problems
  • Infections
  • Cushing’s disease
  • …or even some types of cancer

💡But with a little vigilance and monitoring, you can stay on top of your dog’s health, safety, and well-being – for good.

Which, with a Tractive device, means you’ve got…

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packaging of the Tractive GPS DOG tracker

Stay on top of your dog’s wellness

See how they’re doing at a glance with Wellness Score. Set goals. Compare with dogs like yours. Monitor sleep. Detect issues and keep them healthy.

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Want a vet’s take on excessive water drinking and what might cause it in dogs? Here’s Dr. Lera from the Heron Lakes Animal Hospital weighing in:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.