Is your dog or cat always thirsty?

Excessive thirst warrants a trip to the vet

One of the most common presentations of a developing illness in both dogs and cats is a chronic increased thirst or urination. And while thirst can certainly be a function of the type of diet a pet is eating, animal guardians should definitely bring their pets in for a physical exam and workup when they start having to fill the pet’s water bowl more frequently on a chronic basis.

Most veterinarians will run a baseline of tests to include a CBC/blood chemistry/thyroid profile, as well as a urine analysis and possibly a urine culture. If an answer is not readily apparent from this initial baseline of tests, then other testing such as x-rays or ultrasound may be needed. Often the increased thirst and urination can be accompanied by weight loss with the occasional exception of a hormonal disease of the adrenal glands called Cushing’s disease, where a pet will often develop a distended abdomen and weight gain. Besides this adrenal gland problem (most commonly seen in dogs) other metabolic conditions of the kidneys, liver, pancreas, and thyroid glands can all be potential causes of the excessive thirst and urination. In senior patients, we always have to keep in mind the possibility for various cancerous processes as well.

For my feline clients, I often warn them that when a cat is asking for water out of the faucet and/or seen at the water dish frequently, they should consider a full veterinary evaluation, and also switch to a species-appropriate wet food or meat diet. This is because many cat owners may be under the mistaken assumption that dry food diets are better for them. In addition, both diabetes and hyperthyroidism are very common endocrine or hormonal disorders seen in aging cats.

Once your veterinarian arrives at a diagnosis of the problem, appropriate long term medical treatment, dietary therapy, and nutritional supplements can often be helpful in managing the problem.  For diabetic dogs and cats, the newer Vetsulin Insulin is often a first choice for our feline friends. If liver disease is suspected or confirmed, in some cases it may accompany disorders of the pancreas like diabetes or pancreatitis. There is a wonderful endocrine package deal carried by 1800PetMeds that includes a variety of broad spectrum supplements that may help in the long term management of many of these disorders. The endocrine package includes antioxidant Proanthozone, an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and a probiotic, all packaged together at a very reasonable price.


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  1. I have found the the same chemicals used by beverage co’s, to make your throat dry, are also bieng put in cat food. The cat food co’s also produce kitty litter. So a cat that drinks more, urinates more! And you have to buy more litter. The litter recently, has gotten so absorbant, it’s hard to afford to keep buying it. But the co’s are selling it like hotcakes! I had to buy a cheaper brand. If you do not believe this, Check the two chemicals in spring water,”Used for flavering” You will find the same in cat food. Buy food that does not have these chemicals.

  2. Our town has increased the amount of chlorine in our drinking water, and now my dog is drinking an enormous amount of water. Could the chlorine be causing this change of drinking habits? Also, I just had her checked for diabetes, and the test was normal. Thanks,Janice

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I doubt due to chlorine. Make sure other labwork done to rule out kidney and liver issues. Diabetes insipideus is another differential which is a different disease than elevated sugar. See your vet again.

  4. Madonna Young-MageeNovember 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    My 11 year old dog recently began to drink a lot of water…he drink now, habitualy just before I take him out to pee and after we return..we live in an apartment. He has been unable to hole his pee now…peeing in the elevator “by mistake”..he just can;t help just happens and he is surprised, too. Is this new incontinence..even peeing in his own bed..a typical sign of age like in us humans? He is part Pyrenees and, we think, part Golden retriever. He came to our doo 8 years ago so we do not know his history. Any advice or knowledge anyone out there has on this new experience for us would be highly appreciated. He rarely goes to the vet…he has been very healthy and we don;t have the money to visit the vet very often. I guess a vet visit is ib store now…but any other info on this would either ease our minds or give me food for thought and get me to the vet on time. Thank you.

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    A vet exam is recommended to make sure no diabetes, liver or kidney issues. IF none of these and/or no infections, then old age incontinence is possible and prescription meds like proin may help.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Vet exam is recommended for urine analysis for infection and blood work to rule out metabolic problems. If all normal, then meds for urine incontinence like proin may help.

  7. My mom’s cat is almost 21 years old, part Siamese. She drinks water excessively. The vet said at her age no need to bring her to the office. Your thoughts please.

    Thank you.

  8. My mom’s cat is almost 21 years old, part Siamese. She drinks water excessively and her vet says not to bring her back because of her age. Your thoughts.

    Thank you.

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 12, 2013 at 12:40 am

    I would have an exam and blood work/urine analysis to make sure no treatable illness like diabetes, thyroid disease, etc. Even in a cat this age.

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 12, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Answered previously.

  11. Hi. My 7 yr old spayed black lab was drinking masses and masses and generally looking unhappy. She had been on dried dog food most of the time. My gut instinct told me to change her diet drastically. I put her on a raw meat and bone diet (with only healthy scraps added, like fruit, veg etc.) I saw a drastic change in her within 24 hours. She was looking happier and drinking less (like normal amount) and is generally a much happier dog.

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    THanks for sharing. As a holistic oriented veterinarian, I have found raw meat home diets quite effective in helping many dogs.

  13. have a older cat with sensitive stomach she can’t eat dry food or vomits now is having problem with wet food any supplement i can give mix in food to help him digest food better

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 9, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Try probiotic like fast balance and enzyme like naturevet enzyme from 1800petmeds.

  15. My Rat terrier is 14 yrs. She started peeing in her sleep for about a week, and after a week long stay at the Vet, she still drinks too much. Vet said at first that she had pancretisis which has cleared up. They rehydrated her (3 IV’s in 7 days) Her head trembles and her legs collaspe. He put her on AD critical care can food which is just nasty. She wouldn’t eat at first altho they said she ate it there. I have to open the Selegiline capsule and mix into the mess and managed to get her to eat. Her symptons continued to worsen until later last night I started giving her sausage + pepperoni off my pizza, and Lipton chicken noodle soup on top of her normal dog food. This a.m. gave her the Selegiline and she has some trimbing.Vet wanted me to bring her back today and gace her again which she hates and gets depresses. His words “I don’t know what the hell is going on” on the 7th. On the 9th said she’d had a stroke and sent her home. Her personality has changed and she is so calm it’s scary. She finally wagged her tale when my son came home. I know this is a lot but I need help. Thank you, Judy

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    HI Judy. Many possibilities in pet this age from the effects of chronic or recurrent acute pancreatitis, as well as other issues, including tumors, adrenal gland problems, etc Try not to feed sausage and pepperoni as VERY bad for pet with pancreatitis history or other digestive upset I would ask your vet for referral to vet internist in your area, who can do ultrasound to further look at these possibilities.

  17. my 14 y/o calico was dx with hyper thyroidism last year and has been on the hill’s thyroid dry food with out incident. Last week her behavior changed with aggression etc like a feral cat. Vet did blood work and found thyroid off as well as blood sugar of over 400 and HR of > 200. Cat now on Felimazole 2.5 mg BID and amlodipine 2.5 mg 1/4 tablet QD. He wants to start her on Lantus insulin 2 unit and 2 units pm. As an RN was asking my pharmacist friends about this. They suggested novolin N or Humilin N insulin (cheaper and last 12-18 hrs) rather than the expensive 24 hour Lantus. Was told by vet that cats \don’t do well on Humilin or Novolin\ and that is why Lantus is to be used, My question is, if cat is now on thyroid meds, no thyroid food but on diabetic food and insulin-would the control of the thyroid not help control the diabetes and possibly decrease the need for the insulin? Also do cats get any type of diabetic improvement with the novolin or humilin insulin?

  18. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    In my experience lantus insulin is certainly a superior product in most cases to Novolin or N insulin. Typically get much better control. With hard work, other cats may be controlled with N insulin, but lantus has better tract record. Controlling thyroid should also help with diabetes control. Remember the low carb, no grain diets best for these cases sun as Wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds.

  19. i have a 7 year old beagle girl and she scoots so much on the floor and goes around in circles and moans doing it.the vet did an anal clean but she still does it.driving me crazy trying to figure out what is wrong.

  20. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 16, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    could be part of allergic skin disease complex that needs systemic antihistamines and/or cortisone. See vet for recheck.

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