My Senior Dog Is Drinking Lots of Water. Is It Just Old Age?

Corgi drinking from a bowl of water

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Some pet owners with older dogs may notice that their dog is suddenly drinking a lot more water. Taking note of this increase in fluid intake is important and may be an indicator of a health condition. No matter what age your pet is, a noticeable increase in water intake (drinking) and subsequently increased urination often means there is an underlying medical problem. If your animal is on a medication such as Prednisone, that may already impact fluid intake (and output), so speak to your veterinarian about changes to your medicated dog.

Noting a Change in Habits

A change in drinking or urinary habits, such as urinating in the house or where the pet sleeps (leaking), increased urge to urinate, or very diluted urine needs to be evaluated as soon as possible. Increased water intake can be a sign of many different diseases, including, but not limited to; dehydration, kidney failure, Cushing's disease, Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, kidney disease or urinary tract infection, and Pyometra (infection of the uterus) to name a few.

How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?

Diet and environment will cause some differences in water requirements, but an average daily intake for dogs and cats should be about 1 ounce of water per 1 pound of weight. For reference, a 10-pound dog would need a little more than one cup of water a day. Do note that some of the daily fluid intake will be found in food too, especially with a moist diet, such as canned or raw food versus kibble. Puppies and kittens have a higher fluid requirement. If you notice a change in your pet's fluid intake (and subsequently show increased urine output or increased urinary accidents) call your veterinarian for an examination.

One exception for urinary accidents would be a senior pet with cognitive dysfunction or dementia (disoriented, forgetting housetraining), but other more common medical conditions must be ruled out first.

Ruling Out a Thirsty Dog

Before getting too worried about your overly thirsty dog, take note of the current conditions in its life. Does your dog have constant access to fresh water? If not, it will likely take advantage of any time water is available. For optimum care, maintain your dog's access to fresh drinking water at all times. Also, if it is a particularly hot day and/or your dog has been particularly active, it may be more thirsty. Finally, any changes to diet, especially a new brand of food or a new dry food diet, may make your pet more thirsty.

Checking for Dehydration

Dehydration is common, but it's a dangerous situation for a dog and one reason why they may be drinking a lot of water. It can be life-threatening, especially for an older dog. A simple at-home test can alert you to signs of dehydration in your dog. Simply grab the fur on the back of your dog's neck and then release it. If the fur goes flat, back into place, your dog is likely not dehydrated. If the fur stays up, even after being released, that is not a good sign and your dog is likely suffering from dehydration. You should call your vet right away and inform them of your findings and concerns about dehydration. They will take your concerns seriously since they know how dangerous this condition can be.

Plan for a Productive Vet Visit

If you have decided to call your vet and make an appointment, it's helpful to plan ahead to have the most productive visit possible. Caring for your pet at the veterinarian's office can be stressful, so the better prepared you are, the better the appointment will go. Write down any questions ahead of time so you don't forget what you want to ask. Also, bring notes of your dog's habits, including times of drinking, urination, behavior, eating, or schedule changes. It can also be helpful to ask the vet's office if you will need to supply a urine sample. If so, it can be easier to take one prior to the appointment so they can begin to test it and you won't need to return to the office with a urine sample.