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Last Week’s Scare: Excessive Drinking

In the midst of Ginko’s post-op infection worries from last week, he also began drinking and peeing excessively. And, I mean off … the … charts. Excessive drinking in dogs is never a good sign. He would literally stand next to the empty water bowl and cry. He also began waking us up early because he had to go so badly and because he desperately needed to drink more water.

Excessive Drinking in Dogs

water drop graphic for article on excessive drinking in dogs
Typically, neither of those things bode well about the health of a dog.
It can be signs of kidney issues and that perhaps a dog has become diabetic.

I know this from having had a dog with kidney failure and because I just interviewed Edie Jarolim from Will My Dog Hate Me? last week about her dog, Frankie, who is diabetic.

I’m working on a veterinary trade magazine article , so Edie sent me an article she wrote for a big-name dog health newsletter, and I learned that both pancreatitis and the use of certain pain meds/anti-inflammatory meds can be associated with older dogs developing diabetes. (Regular readers know that we had a pancreas scare with Ginko a while back and that he had been taking some strong pain meds just before and just after his recent knee surgery.)

So, when Ginko began peeing like a racehorse, I flipped out with worry.

Tests All Normal

Ginko already had his rescheduled staple-pulling appointment set for Thursday afternoon, so I called in the morning to alert the doctors and staff that we had an additional concern.

I even sent along a urine sample for them to test. (Ginko was VERY confused when I followed him around with a plastic container.)

They checked his urine. They ran more blood tests (even though he had a bunch done just prior to the surgery). And, everything looks perfectly normal.

Possible Food Intolerance

I was booked solid last week (and this week … OK, all the time), so Tom had to take Ginko to the appointment without me. So, he answered all the veterinarian’s questions the best he could, and her verdict is this … it’s probably the new food we’re feeding.

You can read all about why we switched dog foods over on my other blog Dog Food Dish, but essentially, I learned that our old food had some less-than-ideal ingredients in it. So, even though, both dogs seem to be doing great on that food … I switched to a new super-premium line from the same manufacturer.

My pick? A salmon and sweet potato formula. Ginko LOVES sweet potatoes, as we learned in this video product review.

Oddly enough, our veterinarian ALSO just switched her German Shepherds to this same food, and she told Tom her dogs have become Water Mongers too.

I asked the guy at the feed store, but he says no one else is reporting increased water consumption.

Still … it makes me wonder/worry. While this did start just before we began the new antibiotics, I’m still thinking it’s food related.

Perhaps not food “allergy” per se, but something isn’t right.

SO, I quickly transitioned Ginko to another food in this same super-premium line that’s made from turkey and sweet potatoes. I’m hoping the protein switch fixes things.

I’ll let Lilly finish the bag of salmon-based food because she seems to be doing fine on it, then I’ll switch her over to the turkey one as well.

It has only been a few days, but things seem somewhat better. He is still drinking more than normal, but not all day … just after meals. He is still peeing more than usual.

Behavior Switch

And, just to be sure that the early-morning wake-up whines aren’t just because he learned that it got him lots of attention, we’re taking Ginko out for a quick potty break and a dog treat to tide him over until real breakfast … after at least another hour or two of sleep (for us!).

I’m hoping that he bounces back after finishing his antibiotics on Wednesday. We’ll see.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Pat Gray - August 19, 2010

I fostered a St Bernard with a “drinking problem”, she’d been denied food and water as a pup. She’d lift the toilet seat to get a drink! Rather than leave her without water for any length of time, I’d give her a handful of ice cubes. She gradually got over her obsession, but it took some time. Several years later and her fur-ever mom says she’s doing fine.

A novel way of collecting urine is an old soup ladle – saw a vet assistant use it and it worked great.

Have you ruled out steroids? – my Collie-Shepherd reacts with excessive drinking/peeing even if I just use a cream.

Best of luck with Ginko!

KB - August 18, 2010

Yet another one here. Our dog, R, has an excessive drinking and peeing problem but we’ve IDed the cause. It’s that his urine pH gets too high, driving him to drink like a fish and pee like a racehorse. One cause seems to be grains in his food. So, when we switched him to a sweet potato and venison food with NO grains, our boy returned almost to normal. I say “almost” because he does still have to take a mild drug to keep his urine pH down.

I hope that Ginko’s problems are soon resolved. K is currently drinking more than normal but she’s on a very very strong antibiotic (cipro…). The vet isn’t surprised and expects her to return to normal once she’s done with the antibiotics. I hope that the same is true for Ginko!

Jana Rade - August 18, 2010

Such excessive thirst truly is a big red flag! Glad all the tests came back negative.

Generally, excessive drinking happens what the body is trying to ‘flush something out’. What that something is that is another question.

The extra urination usually comes naturally with the drinking.

Apparently excessive drinking can be caused by about 67 different conditions in dogs!

Strange though that diet would cause this, though of course I imagine it could.

Glad to hear there is some improvement though!

Have adrenals also been checked?

Elayne - August 18, 2010

I think that diabetes insipidus is easy to treat, some kind of drug I think. I don’t think it’s as serious as regular diabetes. I had my vet do the water withdrawal test while Cody was being boarded there and she charged me maybe $8 or something very trivial.

Edie Jarolim - August 17, 2010

I too am glad that it’s not diabetes. I had to laugh, though, when you talked about following Gingko around with a plastic container. Welcome to my world! I follow Frankie around twice a day with a (aptly) kidney shaped glass dish so I can collect his pee to glucose test it and, I swear, he finds the most remote places in my back yard to go– perversely, I’m convinced. The worst was when I had to collect his pee in public, in San Diego. Of course Frankie chose the spot in front of an outdoor cafe for optimal embarrassment.

Lindsey - August 17, 2010

Some dogs also have a sensitivity to calcium/mineral content in various types of dog foods. It causes miniscule crystals to form in their urine and irritates the urethra – thus causing spontaneous urination. We discovered this while trying to balance dietary flora with yogurt – we won’t do that again!

    Roxanne Hawn - August 17, 2010

    Good to know, Lindsey. I was planning on doing some yogurt with Ginko after he finishes up his antibiotics tomorrow.

Susan - August 17, 2010

Fwiw, whenever I fed Allie canned salmon or mackerel, she’d get gassy and stinky, and her stool would be huge and slimed with mucus (sorry for the grossness). I took her off it and she was fine. And she loves sweet potatoes. I’ve been cooking them for her as a substitute for canned pumpkin, which is nowhere to be found these days.

    Roxanne Hawn - August 17, 2010

    Susan, when I got another food with sweet potatoes in it, Tom feared it would continue. “What if it’s the sweet potatoes?” he asked. But Ginko gets some form of sweet potato pretty often, so I’m fairly sure it’s not that.

Elayne - August 17, 2010

Glad to hear Ginko’s doing better. Cody has a ‘psychogenic drinking’ problem that he’s passed on to Strummer. It’s totally a behavioral thing and is triggered by stress. Sometimes the only way to deal with it is to pick up the water bowl. There are also some commercial foods that cause all 3 dogs to drink more so maybe you’re on the right track with Ginko. There’s also a disease called ‘diabetes insipidus’ which is rare and different from regular diabetes but the test for it is tricky and can require an overnight vet stay.

    Roxanne Hawn - August 17, 2010

    Wow! both Elayne and DK have dogs with thirst issues. That’s wild. I’m not sure I’ve heard that before.

    And, Elayne, I’m going to really hope it’s not the rare diabetes because I’m already dreading my next credit card bill with all these veterinary charges on it.

D.K. Wall & The Thundering Herd - August 17, 2010

Doubt this is your issue (since yours is a sudden onset of water drinking), but I have a dog that has a water psychosis. We have run plenty of tests and determined that all systems are normal, but, if allowed, he gorges on water. The guess is that he was denied access to water as a pup (he came to us with cage scars on his paws and rope burns deep into his neck). We have worked a lot with him and now a simple verbal command will snap him out of it, but he still will not self regulate as well as we would like.

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