During this very hot time of year, you may notice your pet at the water dish much more frequently. Excessive water consumption however can also be a sign of your pet being unwell.
Water consumption of greater than 80-100 ml/kg/day in dogs and greater than 60-80 ml/kg/day in cats is considered excessive. In the veterinary field, this is referred to as polyuria (increase urination) and polydipsia (increased thirst), or PU/PD. There are numerous reasons why dogs and cats may drink in excess, as the brain, kidneys and a number of hormones are involved in the production of urine and control of thirst. A common underlying cause of increased thirst and urination in dogs is an imbalance in the levels of the hormone cortisol, this condition is known as Hyperadrenocorticism (colloquially referred to as Cushing’s). Cushings disease increases cortisol levels in the body which results in the impaired ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine. The consequence of this is increase urination and the subsequent increase in thirst. Other changes in this condition may include symmetrical hair loss, thinning skin and the re-disposition of fat and muscle resulting in a pot-bellied appearance. Other causes of increased urination and thirst include; renal disease, urinary tract infections, psychogenic drinking (usually secondary to stress or boredom), diabetes and liver disease. Kidney disease is relatively common in cats, although the underlying causes can vary greatly from heritable disorders to secondary changes from other diseases. Urinary tract infections are more commonly seen in females. To distinguish the cause of increased thirst in your pet, multiple tests may be needed. Your vet will usually test your pets urine initially, then blood testing may be required. If you are concerned about increased water intake in your pet, catching a midstream urine sample in a super clean container is very helpful for the consultation with your vet. Following your pet around the yard waiting for a sample is also a funny sight for your neighbours!