Does your pet drink too much?

1st November 2017



The medical term for drinking too much is polydipsia. Whilst serious medical problems are rare, if your dog or cat is drinking more than usual we’ll need to check that there isn’t a more serious underlying medical condition.

Top tip: If you become aware that you are filling up water bowls much more frequently, contact us to make an appointment.

How much water should your pet drink?

The amount an animal drinks will vary and can often be closely related to the kind of food being fed.  Animals fed a dry diet will need more water than those being fed tinned or sachet food.

As a guide we would normally expect dogs and cats to drink somewhere between 20 and 70 mls per kg body weight per day. Anything over 100 mls per kg per day is abnormal.

The best way to measure your pets water intake is to fill the water bowl with a known amount of water in the morning, and measure what is left after 24 hours. Repeat this over several days to work out the average. You can then divide the volume of water drunk by your pet’s body weight.

Ask us for help measuring your pet’s water intake


What causes polydipsia?

Increased drinking can occur for several reasons;

  • Kidney failure – if the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine is compromised this will allow larger volumes of dilute urine to be excreted, which in turn will make an animal want to drink more. The causes of kidney failure can be temporary or permanent. This damage can also occur suddenly (acute) or slowly (chronic).
  • Kidney infection – this needs investigating and treating urgently to prevent further complications. It can also be painful and cause a fever.
  • High blood calcium – this can occur which certain cancers. If a high calcium level is found we will normally look for other triggers.
  • Liver failure – when the liver stops working there can be a multitude of problems that develop. Alterations in the blood levels of urea, cortisol and potassium all affect water intake.
  • Diabetes mellitus – not just a problem in humans but now also a significant issue in dogs and cats. Animals that are overweight, eat the wrong diet and don’t exercise enough will be most at risk.
  • Pyometra – this is the name we use for a womb infection, a problem that we normally see in middle aged or older unneutered female dogs. Apart from drinking too much you may also see other signs such as a loss of appetite and a discharge from the vulva.
  • Overactive adrenal glands – we normally refer to this as hyperadrenocorticotrophism or Cushings disease. We are lucky that there are some very good treatments available to manage this disease.
  • Over active thyroid glands – also known as hyperthyroidism, this is most common in middle age and older cats.


Is excessive drinking an urgent problem?

It could be, so if you are in any doubt, call us and make an appointment to see one of our vets.


How do we investigate excessive drinking?

We would normally start our investigations with blood and urine tests which can readily identify some of the common causes, such as kidney failure. We may then go on to arrange an ultrasound scan to examine the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands.


How do we help?

The treatment for polydipsia in dogs and cats depends on the underlying cause. It’s reassuring to know that in most cases we can usually find someway to help with the problem. The outcome is generally better if the condition is diagnosed early. Whatever you do don’t delay and let us take a look.


If you have any further questions about polydipsia in dogs and cats you should speak to one of our vets.


Tell us if your pet is drinking too much

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