Excessive Thirst in a Dog: Oscar’s Increased Drinking and Diagnosis

Different environmental and physiological factors determine how much water your dog needs to drink on any given day.

Things that influence fluctuation in your dog’s water intake include:

  • ambient temperature
  • activity level
  • type of diet

However, with all things being equal, if your dog starts drinking more than usual, you need to consider an underlying health problem. Illnesses that will make a dog thirstier include:

  • hyperthermia
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • severe infections
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease

Further reading: Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking (Polydipsia)

Excessive Thirst in a Dog: Oscar's Increased Drinking and Diagnosis

Oscar’s story

Oscar was a 14-year-old Terrier and his mom’s heart dog. He was the friendliest, kindest dog she ever met. Over the years, Oscar had his share of health challenges, including a knee injury and resulting arthritis. His mom gave him all the care he needed, which is why he continued to enjoy a happy, active life.

Oscar starts drinking more water

When it came to Oscar’s eating, drinking, and elimination habits, he was steady as a rock. Which is why it stood out when Oscar’s drinking bowl was empty every time his mom looked. When his mom refilled the bowl, Oscar would drink some more.

Because water intake can fluctuate for various reasons, it wasn’t overly suspicious at first. But Oscar’s increased thirst continued. Oscar’s drinking habits seemed to have changed for good. It was time to see a veterinarian to figure out why.

At the veterinarian

Some health conditions that cause increased thirst can manifest through appearance such as

  • jaundice
  • pale gums
  • abdominal swelling
  • and other signs

This is why the veterinarian began by a thorough physical examination. There were no red flags in the way Oscar looked and felt—he appeared perfectly healthy.

The veterinarian went on to analyze Oscar’s blood and urine. The blood test results came back mostly normal. Oscar did not have diabetes, and his kidneys were working well. The one anomaly was Oscar’s liver enzymes.

Oscar’s urine also didn’t show any problems other than being very dilute, clearly reflecting the excessive water intake. But what was behind all that thirst?

The diagnosis

Increased drinking with the elevated liver values made the veterinarian suspect Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is a condition in which the body produces too much cortisol. Like any hormone, there is a useful range of cortisol levels, but trouble ensues when the controls fail.

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

Potential symptoms of Cushing’s disease include:

  • excessive thirst
  • increased urination
  • skin and coat changes
  • slow-healing wounds
  • pot-bellied appearance
  • weakness

Oscar had no other symptoms besides the increased drinking. However, he fit general risk criteria. Further, Dachshunds, Terriers, and Boxers have a high risk of developing the disease.

Oscar had to undergo further specialized testing to confirm or rule out the suspicion.

Source story:
Oscar the 14-year-old Terrier

Related articles:
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking (Polydipsia)

Further reading:
Why is My Dog Drinking So Much Water?

Categories: ConditionsCushing's diseaseDog health advocacyExcessive drinkingReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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