Is My Dog Drinking Too Much Water?

Water is critical to health for all living beings, including dogs. Drinking too much or not enough can be a sign of or cause life-threatening problems.

How to Recognize if Your Dog is Drinking Too Much

When trying to determine if your dog is drinking too much, you must know how much is a normal amount to drink. A normal healthy dog generally drinks 20 to 40 ml of water per pound of body weight per day. This comes out to be about:

  • 1 ½ cups to 2 cups for a 10-pound dog
  • 3 to 4 cups of water for a 20-pound dog
  • 6 to 8 cups for a 40-pound dog
  • 9 to 12 cups for a 60-pound dog
  • 12 to 16 cups for an 80-pound dog

For a more detailed break down of how much a dog should drink based on weight, go to: How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

The amount of water intake also varies with several factors including if a dog eats dry food or canned food eater (canned food contains more water), activity level, sodium ingestion, warm weather exposure, medications given, fluid losses such as from vomiting or diarrhea, and any underlying disease that may cause excessive thirst.

So as mentioned above, dogs normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day or about 3 to 4 cups of water per day for a 20-pound dog. Anything more than that, under normal environmental conditions, is considered excessive drinking (also known by the medical term “polydipsia”).

Causes for Dogs to Drink Too Much Water

There are several medical causes for excessive drinking. The most common causes are:
Chronic renal failure commonly referred to also as chronic kidney failure and abbreviated as CRF, is a common problem in dogs. It is most common in older dogs. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by the blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease. Signs may include increased thirst, increased urination, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, bad breath, and weakness. Learn more about Kidney Failure (CRF) in Dogs.

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known simply as “diabetes”, commonly abbreviated as “DM”, is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone insulin impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. Diabetes mellitus leads to an inability of the tissue to utilize glucose. The disease occurs from high blood sugar levels, inadequate delivery of sugar to the tissues, and changes in the body metabolism. The most common signs are increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, and lethargy. Learn more about Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs.

Pyometra, the medical term used to describe an infected uterus, can be open (draining pus from the vagina) or closed (pus is contained in the uterus by a closed cervix). Common signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, drinking excessive amounts of water, and urinating often. Learn more about Uterine infection (called pyometra).

Acute kidney failure, also known as acute renal failure and commonly abbreviated as “ARF”, is characterized by an abrupt decline in kidney function that leads to changes in the chemistry of the body including alterations in fluid and mineral balance. The changes that arise as a result of ARF affect almost every body system and is commonly caused by toxins. Common symptoms include vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and changes in water intake. Learn more about Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs.

High blood calcium, also known as hypercalcemia, refers to an abnormally high blood concentration of calcium. There are many different causes including cancer. Learn more about Hypercalcemia in Dogs.

Cushing Disease, a relatively uncommon abnormality of the endocrine system, is also known by the medical term hyperadrenocorticism. This is a disease state in which an overactive adrenal tissue produces excessive amounts of cortisone. Cortisone and related substances are essential hormones of the body, but when produced in excessive amounts these substances may cause systemic illness. Learn more about Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease or syndrome) in Dogs.

Diabetes Insipidus results from the inability of the tubules of the kidney to reabsorb water properly. It is an uncommon condition in dogs caused by impaired production of a hormone called ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) from the brain (central DI), or an impaired ability of the kidney to respond properly to the ADH (nephrogenic DI). Symptoms include extreme urinations followed by increased thirst. Learn more about Diabetes Insipidus in Dogs.

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

Water is an essential part of a dog’s body and critical to good health. Water is essential for all cellular, organ, and tissue functions of the body. One realizes the importance of water when faced with the negative consequences of dehydration. As little as a 10% loss of body water can be fatal.

Water in the body is not static but a constant and dynamic process. Dogs lose water through breathing, panting, urinating, and having bowel movements. Dogs take in water primarily through drinking water but also get some water from eating food and to a small degree by the body’s normal metabolism.

We refer to this dynamic flow of fluids as “intake” and “output”. Intake is primarily from drinking and water content in food. Output is fluid loss through normal methods of panting, drooling, urine, bowel movements as well as abnormal means such as diarrhea, vomiting, or blood loss.

Dehydration results from more “output” than “intake”. Overhydration results from more “intake” than output.

Factors that Affect How Much a Dog Should Drink

There are factors that can impact how much water a dog should drink. For example:

  • Dry dog food vs. canned dog food. Dry dog food has approximately 15 and up to 30% water while canned dog food can contain 50% to 75% water. Dogs that eat canned food may drink and require less water.
  • Body weight. Bigger dogs require more water than smaller dogs. Water requirements are based on body weight.
  • Sodium. Just as we have increased thirst after ingestion of a high salt snack, ingestion of high sodium foods in dogs can create a need for increased amounts of water intake.
  • Exercise & Activity. Dogs that are more active generally drink and require more water.
  • Weather Exposure. The high temperatures of the spring and summer generally cause dogs to pant. Panting helps them regulate their body temperature but also is a way they lose water. It is critical for dogs to have access to shade but also plenty of fresh clean water at all times.
  • Drug therapy. Some medications may increase a dog’s water intake. Drugs may include steroids or diuretics such as Furosemide (commonly known as Lasix).
  • Disease. Some diseases such as kidney disease or Diabetes can cause increased thirst in dogs.

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

The amount of water a dog should drink per day is dependent on his size. The general rule is that dogs drink 20 to 40 ml of water per pound of body weight per day. This comes out to about 3 to 4 cups of water for a 20-pound dog.

Below is a table with more details based on size. Note there is a range. Much of the range is determined by the factors listed above. And like people, some dogs are better at drinking water than others. Here’s a chart to help you understand how much water your dog needs based on their weight.

Dogs 3 – 5 pounds
60 to 200 mL/day
¼ to almost a cup

Dogs 6 – 10 pounds
120 mL to 400 mL/day
½ cup to little over 1 ½ cups

Dogs 11 – 20 pounds
220 mL to 800 mL/day
1 cup to 3 1/3 cups

Dogs 21 – 30 pounds
420 mL to 1200 mL/day
1 ¾ cup to 5 cups

Dogs 31 – 40 pounds
620 mL to 1600 mL/day
2 2/3 cups to 6 ½ cups

Dogs 41- 50 pounds
820 mL to 2000 mL/day
3 ½ cups to 9 1/3 cups

Dogs 51 – 60 pounds
1020 mL – 2400 mL/day
4 ¼ cups to 10 cups

Dogs 61 – 70 pounds
1220 mL – 2800 mL/day
5 cups to 11 2/3 cups

Dogs 71- 80 pounds
1420 mL – 3200 mL/day
6 cups to 13 1/3 cup

Dogs 81 – 90 pounds
1620 mL – 3600 mL/day
7 cups to 15 cups

Dogs 91 – 100 pounds
1820 mL – 4000 mL/day
7 ½ cups to 16 2/3 cups

Dogs 101 – 110 pounds
2020 mL – 4400 mL/day
8 2/3 cups to 19 1/3 cups

Dogs 111 – 120 pounds
2220 mL – 4800 mL/day
9 ¼ cups to 20 cups

Dogs 121 – 130 pounds
2420 mL – 5200 mL/day
10 cups to 21 cups

Dogs 131 – 140 pounds
2620 mL – 5600 mL/day
11 cups to 23 1/3 cups

*rounded to the nearest quarter cup

Note: There are 240 mL in a cup, 4 cups in a quart, 8 cups in a half gallon, and 16 cups in a gallon.

What are Water Recommendations for Dogs?

  • If your dog is active, he or she is in the heat, or has any fluid loss such as from vomiting and diarrhea, they may require more water than what is listed above.
  • It is recommended that you give your dog plenty of fresh clean water at all times.
  • Your dog’s water bowl should be washed thoroughly twice weekly and ideally by running through the dishwasher.
  • Your dog’s water bowl should be big enough to hold 36 to 48 hours of water.
  • Offer one water bowl outside and one inside. If you have multiple dogs, it is recommended to have more than one water bowl in the house.
  • Please contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s water intake. Learn more about Why is My Dog Not Drinking Water?
  • Not drinking can be dangerous and lead to life-threatening dehydration. Learn more about Dehydration in Dogs.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About How Much Should a Dog Drink

Does Dog Water Intoxication Exist? 
Why is My Dog Not Drinking Water?
Should I Give My Dog Tap Water?
Drinking, Drinking, Drinking – Your Dog and Diabetes
Ideal Daily Schedule for Dogs and Puppies
Excessive Drinking (Excessive Thirst) in Dogs
Why is My Dog Drinking Tons of Water?
Dehydration in Dogs
Why Water is Important
Diabetes in Dogs
Kidney Failure (CRF) in Dogs

Why is My Dog Not Drinking Water?

Water is an essential component of a dog’s body and critical to good health. Water is required for all cellular, organ, and all tissue functions of the body. Pet owners sometimes ask the question “Why is my dog not drinking water?”

One realizes the importance of water when faced with the negative consequences of not drinking, which is “dehydration”. Dehydration results from more output than intake. This can occur from not drinking or from excessive output.

Output is defined at the amount of fluid leaving the body. Output can be from normal fluid loss, drooling, panting, urination, and bowel movements. Output can also be from abnormal losses such as from diarrhea, vomiting, and/or blood loss. As little as a 10% loss of body water can be fatal.

How Much Should a Dog Drink?

In a normal environment, the amount of water a dog should drink per day is dependent on his size. The general rule is that dogs should drink 20 to 40 ml of water per pound of body weight per day. This comes out to about 3 to 4 cups of water for a 20-pound dog or 6 to 8 cups of water for a 40-pound dog per day. Learn more about details of water requirements by weight with this article: How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

Occasionally, some dogs may drink too much water. Learn more by reading this article: Water Intoxication in Dogs.

Factors that Affect How Much a Dog Should Drink

There are factors that can impact how much water a dog should drink. For example, a dog may drink more if they are on certain medications such as steroids, exercising, exposed to warm weather or hot temperatures, fed high sodium snacks, and/or eat primarily dry dog food.

Reasons Dogs May Drink Less Water

There are many reasons some dogs may drink less water. Just like people, some dogs are naturally better water drinkers than other dogs. The big concern is if there is an acute change in YOUR dog. If your dog suddenly stops or substantially decreases his or her water consumption, that is reason for concern and reason to contact your veterinarian immediately.
In general, some dogs will drink less for the following reasons:

  • Diet. If they eat canned food (which contains much more water than dry dog food) dogs will generally drink less water.
  • Lifestyle. Dogs with a sedentary lifestyle may drink less water than an active dog (exercise which leads to fluid losses).
  • Environment. Consistent exposure to moderate temperatures or mostly indoor dogs. Some dogs will drink less as the seasons change and temperatures get cooler.
  • Anxiety and Stress. Some dogs in new environments or situations may not drink water as well as they should.
  • Illness. Any illness that makes a dog not feel well can decrease thirst. This can include viral or bacterial infections, pain, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, kidney disease or failure, bladder infections, and more. Just about anything that causes a dog distress or discomfort can cause them not to want to eat or drink.

Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Signs of dehydration can be vague and may include:

  • Depression
  • Dry gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Slow capillary refill time
  • Sunken eyes
  • Weakness

What to Do If Your Dog is Drinking Less Water

If your dog is drinking less water and this is a change from prior behavior, it is important to evaluate all aspects of your dog’s behavior. For example:

  • Is he or she eating normally?
  • Are the bowel movements normal? Is there diarrhea?
  • Is your dog urinating normally?
  • Is your dog licking his or her lips or drooling that could suggest nausea?
  • Is there any vomiting?
  • Is your dog coughing? Have you noticed any trouble breathing or labored respirations?
  • Does your dog appear to be in pain? Is your dog limping? Hunched posture? Reluctance to move?
  • Can you see any wounds on your dog?
  • Does your dog have the same behavior and activity level? Is he playing or greeting you at the door like normal? Or is he lethargic and less active?

Any abnormality is cause for concern. This can be compounded if your dog is very young or old, pregnant, nursing, or has medical problems such as diabetes or kidney disease.

How to Encourage Your Dog to Drink Water

If your dog is drinking less water, you may try the following to encourage him to drink:

  • Wash and rinse the water bowl thoroughly and refill with fresh clean water.
  • Some dogs enjoy pet fountains and will drink more when available.
  • Allow your pet to lick water from your hand or your finger.
  • Feed canned food, as it has much higher water content than dry dog food.
  • Add warm water or low-sodium broth to your dog’s food. It works well to add the water or broth about 30 minutes before trying to feed.
  • With your veterinarian’s permission, offer small amounts of Pedialyte. It is sometimes recommended to mix Pedialyte with water in a 1:1 ratio and offer small amounts at a time.
  • Adding an ice cube to the water bowl can encourage some dogs to drink.
  • Please contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s water intake.
  • Offered bottled or filtered water. Some dogs like the taste and will be encouraged to drink.
  • As a last resort, you can use a syringe to give your dog water. If your dog is weak, there is a risk of aspiration, which can be life-threatening. In general, if your dog is so sick that you need to give fluid by syringe, he would benefit from the advice and treatment from your veterinarian. When offering water by syringe, squirt it gently in the front of the mouth or cheek pouch. Do not shoot it directly into the throat to minimize the risk of aspiration or choking.

Ultimately if your dog is not drinking, the risk of dehydration exists. It is best to see your veterinarian to help identify the underlying cause and provide treatment if needed.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest if Your Dog is not Drinking Water

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?
Is My Dog Drinking Too Much Water? (INSERT LINK)
Does Dog Water Intoxication Exist?
Should I Give My Dog Tap Water?
Encouraging Your Sick Dog to Eat
Dehydration in Dogs
Why Water is Important
Kidney Failure (CRF) in Dogs

Does Dog Water Intoxication Exist?

What is Dog Water Intoxication?

Dog water intoxication, also known as acute water intoxication or water toxicity, is an uncommon problem in dogs that can occur due to increased amounts of fluid in the body which changes blood sodium levels. This is a rare condition but one that has potentially fatal consequences.

In a normal dog there are very specific amounts of fluid and electrolytes inside cells and outside the cells. When the body is overwhelmed and cannot process the fluids, electrolytes in the body which are normally present in very precise ranges begin to shift. For example, excess water can dilute the sodium level in the fluid outside the calls. The body tries to compensate, which ends up causing water to go into the cells, including the brain cells, which can cause life-threatening neurological damage.

Learn more about what is normal – How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?

Causes of Dog Water Intoxication

Dog water intoxication can occur from the following:

  • Dogs going to the pond, lake, or swimming pool that ingest or drink excessive amounts of water.
  • This can occur from dogs drinking too much from playing in the water and ingesting water. Some dogs will ingest water while swimming or fetching toys.
  • Excessive water ingestion after deprivation. This can occur after dehydration from excessive exercise or from excessive drinking after restriction of water such as a dog being accidently locked in a room without water.
  • Dogs that excessively drink out of a sprinkler or drink from pressurized water flows such as a garden hose or sprinkler.

What Are Signs of Dog Water Intoxication?

Symptoms of dog water intoxication may include:

  • Abdominal distension or bloating
  • Difficulty or labored breathing (dyspnea)
  • Lethargy
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Low heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Nausea or drooling
  • Seizures
  • Trouble walking
  • Unsteady walking or incoordination (ataxia)
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Treatment of Water Intoxication in Dogs

The treatment of water intoxication will depend on the underlying cause and the symptoms displayed by the patient.

  • Very mild cases may be treated with a temporary restriction to water with close observation of blood electrolyte levels and monitoring for progression in symptoms.
  • Advanced water intoxication may require intravenous fluid (IV) therapy with fluids that contain sodium. It is critical that the sodium level in the blood be raised slowly. There are very specific criteria for the treatment. For example, the goal of treatment is to increase the plasma sodium concentration no faster than 0.5-1 mEq/L per hour. Increasing the sodium level too quickly can result in shifts of fluids in the body that can be fatal. Abrupt changes in sodium levels can cause brain damage that may not be apparent for 72 hours post-therapy. Drugs such as furosemide or mannitol may be recommended to help remove fluid and reduce pressure in the brain.

How to Help Your Dog

If you believe your dog has water intoxication, please call your local veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately. They will help to guide you on the recommendations for care.

You can prevent water intoxication by monitoring your dog’s interaction while swimming or with pressurized water sources such as the sprinkler or garden hose. Give your dog frequent breaks when exercising and offer frequent opportunities to drink fresh clean water.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Dog Water Intoxication

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?
Why is My Dog Not Drinking Water?
Should I Give My Dog Tap Water?
Drinking, Drinking, Drinking – Your Dog and Diabetes
Ideal Daily Schedule for Dogs and Puppies
Excessive Drinking (Excessive Thirst) in Dogs
Why is My Dog Drinking Tons of Water?
Dehydration in Dogs
Why Water is Important
Diabetes in Dogs
Kidney Failure (CRF) in Dogs

Should I Give My Dog Tap Water?

The safety of tap water is a question many pet owners ask for themselves and for their pets. Our Tap water is regulated (by the EPA) and determines it to be safe when coming from the tap. However, one wonders how strictly these guidelines are followed.

There are 8 possible contaminates that are of potential concern in tap water. They include:

  • Fluroide. Several decades ago, the United States government mandated the addition of fluoride to the water supply. There is some controversy over the safety of fluoride as it is also a toxin and considered a hazardous waste by the EPA.
  • Chloride. This is used in water treatment plants as a disinfectant. However, there is also question about the safety of routinely drinking chloride, as it has been associated with bladder, rectal, and breast cancers.
  • Drugs. Several drugs including antibiotics, birth control, painkillers, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and much more have shown up in public water supplies. Learn more about this issue below.
  • Chromium. Normally found in our Earth such as plants, rock and more, this element is probably classified as a carcinogen and can enter the water.
  • Radioactive contaminants. Contaminants have been identified in U.S. drinking water supplies in low levels. The impact is unclear.
  • Arsenic. Natural deposits in the earth may release arsenic into our water supply. Arsenic is considered a carcinogen and is toxic.
  • Lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals. The most common way these metals contaminate our water is through corrosion of the pipes in our homes plumbing system. Symptoms of toxicity can include learning disorders in children, as well as nerve and brain damage.
  • Bacteria. Bacteria can enter the water system from sewers or enter from animal wastes in fertilizer or in the ground.

Drug Contamination in Tap Water

While your tap water may be portable, that doesn’t mean it’s pure or healthy. A lot of people can get low-grade infections from bacteria in local water supply-and that can lead to such symptoms as feeling bloated, itchy eyes, stomach cramping, and fatigue. And you’d have no idea what even caused the problems.

Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer Society.

It’s not good for you, either. Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors.

Recently, an article published by the Associated Press (AP) in 2008 exploited the presence of several drugs in drinking water from various locations around the country. Since then, this has been intermittently in the National headlines. In this particular According to the AP article, they tested water that supplies over 41 46 million Americans during a 5-month survey. The residue of several drugs including both nonprescription drugs and prescription drugs were found.

Nonprescription drugs such as Tylenol and ibuprofen as well as prescription drugs such as sex hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, and other drugs have been found in the water at several water facilities across the country. Of the 62 water sources, 28 were tested. Of those, 25 of the 28 tested positive for drug residue including 24 large metropolitan areas. Some tested positive for multiple drugs.

The amounts of drug residue in the water were very small and much less than a therapeutic dose of medication but this raised concern regarding the safety of the water. Is the water safe to drink? What happens with the consumption of water over time? The water utility companies claim this water is safe. The U.S. government does not have requirements for safe drug levels in the water.

Drugs get into the water as water is recycled. People take drugs of which some is absorbed and the rest is eliminated out of the body. As these drugs are eliminated in urine, the residue ends up back into the water supply. Water purification systems eliminate some but not all drugs from the water.

What does this mean to our health? No one really seems to know. Water plants indicate the water is safe. Several doctors have been quoted as not being quite as sure. Drinking this water containing drug residue over a long period of time could have some effects but it has not been studied.