Change in Drinking Habits in Dogs: Pixie’s Excessive Thirst

Do you know what can cause excessive drinking and urination in your dog? Should you be concerned?

Excessive drinking and urinary accidents in dogs often go hand-in-hand. So it is only natural that all that fluid has to make its way back out. The causes of increased drinking and urination include:

  • urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • uterine infections
  • diabetes
  • Cushing’s disease
  • liver or kidney disease
  • Addison’s disease

Usually, you’d expect your dog to come down with just one of these. However, there are times when one thing can lead to another, and you might find yourself in a diagnostic rabbit hole.

Important note:

Never limit your dog’s water intake, no matter how many potty accidents they have. Your dog is doing what their body is telling them to do.

Rather, enlist your veterinarian’s help to get to the bottom of it and treat the cause.

Change in Drinking Habits in Dogs: Pixie's Excessive Thirst

Pixie’s story

All his life, Pixie was a happy dog with no health issues. It wasn’t until Pixie reached eleven years of age when his mom noticed that Pixie became thirstier and started having urinary accidents. It came on rather suddenly—Pixie would drink and drink and couldn’t always hold his pee long enough to do his business outside.

Pixie never had an accident in the house his entire life, and now it became a frequent thing. What was happening?

Pixie used to be steady as a rock and—something was wrong. Lucky for Pixie, his mom suspected a medical problem.

At the veterinarian

Pixie’s mom made an appointment for a check-up to see what might be ailing him. As soon as the veterinarian smelled pixies breath, he knew what was happening. Pixie’s breath smelled sickly sweet, almost like honey.

To confirm, the veterinarian analyzed Pixie’s blood. Pixie had diabetes. Pixie’s blood sugar levels were so high it changed the smell of his breath.

Increased thirst and urination, like Pixie, is the most obvious sign of diabetes: the sugar in the blood goes so high that it leaks through the filters of the kidneys into the urine. The sweetened urine then draws extra fluid into the urine from the blood, and this extra excretion of fluid from the body means that dogs need to drink more water to replace it.

Pete the Vet

Further reading: The Function of Insulin: What Does the Hormone Do In The Dog’s Body?

Pixie’s treatment

Fortunately, diabetes is treatable with insulin injections to control the blood sugar levels. His mom got so good at it, that Pixie didn’t even noticed she was doing anything to him.

The treatment worked, and Pixie’s blood sugar has stabilized. However, his symptoms remained. Pixie was still drinking and peeing like crazy. Now what?

The veterinarian diagnosed and successfully treated Pixie’s problem—what gives?

There is a condition that can come along with—and even complicate diabetes—Cushing’s disease. Not only Cushing’s disease comes with increased drinking and urination, but it can also make a dog more susceptible to develop diabetes.

Long-term excess cortisol in the body can lead to:

  • immunosuppression
  • muscle wasting
  • skin and coat changes
  • increased risk of diabetes

Further reading: The Function of Cortisol: What Happens In A Dog’s Body When It Goes Awry?

Pixie has Cushing’s too

Because Pixie did respond to his insulin treatment but retained his symptoms, the veterinarian proceeded to the next step—testing for Cushing’s disease. The blood test results confirmed the suspicion; Pixie had diabetes AND Cushing’s.

As soon as Pixie received treatment for both problems, his drinking and urination returned to normal. Everything was going well for two years, but then Pixie’s symptoms returned once again.

The veterinarian checked everything. Pixie’s blood glucose and cortisol levels were where they should be.

Urinary tract infection

After both tests coming back negative, Pixie’s veterinarian decided to test Pixie’s urine. That quickly provided the answer—Pixie had a UTI. Urinary tract infections are a common complication in diabetic dogs. So before treating, Pixie’s conscientious veterinarian ran culture first to make sure that it will respond to normal antibiotics.

Fortunately, the bacteria causing Pixie’s UTI was the garden-variety type and responded well to standard antibiotic.

Source story:
Pixie, the Thirteen-year-old Male Neutered Papillon Dog

Related articles:
Excessive Drinking (Polydipsia)

Further reading:
Why Is My Senior Dog Drinking a Lot of Water?
Why Your Dog Is Always Thirsty

8 Comments
  1. I’m glad that Pixie is doing well and the vet figured out the various issues Pixie has.

  2. I worry about those diseases with Layla but am relieved she is ok. I am so sorry about Pixie poor baby but thank goodness the vet was smart and worked fast to solve the problems.

  3. This is great information! I think a lot of pet owners would miss the signs in terms of changes to their drinking habits simply because it’s not overly common to track how much your dog is drinking. I’ll be honest, this is one that I have totally slacked on in the past. in our case, the fact that we have 4 pets (2 dogs and 2 cats) sharing water dishes makes it challenging.

  4. I love how you start with a critical and important note about NOT stopping a dog drinking. It is something some peope would automatically do to stop the pee (yes, it’s stupid…) then it would come back to bite them – in an expensive way.

    I would have assumed kidney disease (like cats drink due to kidney issues) but I can see there are several issues that I had not thought of. Thank you for a clear and easy to read post that will benefit a lot of dogs.

  5. Oh poor Pixie! I’m so glad Pixie has a mom who is really on top of her health and she could get treatments for all her ailments quickly. Icy drinks more than she used to when she was a young dog, although she’s never had potty accidents. I’ll have to keep an eye on her going forward.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  6. My goodness! Pixie has been through a lot. I’m happy to know that he was able to respond well to treatment of his diabetes and cushings disease. Also, the fact that mom was attentive and noticed his change in behavior is a blessing. It helps give pets a fighting chance when illness or issues are caught early.

  7. Poor Pixie! I’m glad he has a caring human who got him the treatment he needed. One of my dogs occasionally suffers from UTIs. I make sure to carefully monitor him and get him to the vet at the slightest signs of any symptoms.

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