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To some dogs, the world is one big water bowl. They guzzle from the toilet, slurp from mud puddles, lap water off shower doors and even lick post-shower human legs.
What’s really going on here?
In most cases, it’s just a dog being a dog. You can't really expect an animal that eats poop and rolls in dead squirrels to have a discriminating palate when it comes to quenching his thirst, after all.
There are times, however, when dogs may drink more than usual because of a medical problem. Increased water consumption may be a sign of anything from a bacterial infection to serious conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and glandular disorders, like Cushing’s disease.
If you suspect that your dog is emptying the water bowl more frequently, consult your veterinarian, who may ask you to measure exactly how much your dog is imbibing each day.
While it’s normal for dogs to drink more on hot summer days or after exercise, under normal conditions, a dog shouldn’t take in more than about 1 to 1⅔ cups of water per 10 pounds of body weight in 24 hours.
Of course, since everything that goes in must eventually come out, a dog who drinks more will also usually pee more. And while it may be tempting to limit your dog’s water intake to reduce the number of times that he whines at the door, you should never withhold water from your dog unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Some dogs may need more water because of certain medical conditions, and limiting their water intake could lead to serious medical complications.
Even if your dog has no underlying medical condition, there are times when it’s a good idea to save him from his indiscriminate drinking habits.
Dogs who slurp from stagnant ponds or lakes that have been contaminated with animal feces or urine can be infected with protozoa, such as Giardia, and bacteria, like Leptospira. Blue-green algae, found in some lakes during hot temperatures, can also be toxic to your dog.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to bring a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of water with you on outdoor hikes.
And while slurping from the lawn sprinkler may just be normal dog behavior, if you think your dog is drinking more than usual, it’s worth a visit to your veterinarian, so she can recommend tests to rule out any medical conditions.
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