Why Is My Dog Drinking A Lot Of Water?

Drinking water is a natural part of living.  The most common reason why dogs drink water is because they’re thirsty.  It’s important when it’s hot out or when your dog has completed exercising that your dog has access to fresh, clean water.  We never recommend limiting access to your dog’s water.  Dogs do not sweat (except from their nose and paws), so when they’re hot from either the environment or exercise they control their body temperature by panting.  Excessive panting leads to water loss through physiologic evaporation, but the water loss can easily be replenished by drinking fresh water. If you feel that your dog is drinking too much it’s time to investigate why.  There are a variety of medical conditions where a dog cannot control water loss even at normal temperatures causing the dog to drink more and thereby urinate more to compensate for the water loss.  In general a dog should drink about 40-60ml/kg of water a day.  Any less and the dog can become dehydrated, and any more it’s indicative that your dog could have an underlying condition leading to an imbalance of water intake/output. Increased water consumption (polydipsia) is often associated with a myriad of systemic diseases including:
  • Kidney or liver dysfunction
  • Endocrine disorders including but not limited to Cushing’s disease or diabetes mellitus
  • Severe electrolyte imbalances
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pyometra (a serious uterine infection)
  • Cancer
It’s important to have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian if you think they’re drinking more water than usual.  Your veterinarian will perform bloodwork, an urinalysis, and an urine culture to rule out an urinary tract infection.  Many times a dog that is polidypsic will have a secondary urinary tract infection requiring treatment.  Continued excessive water consumption doesn’t happen just because your dog is thirsty.  There is a reason for it, and it’s important not to ignore it. On occasion a dog can have a behavioral problem that manifests itself as a dog drinking excessive amounts of water.  Some bored puppies or water loving breeds can sometimes drink excessively leading to problems with housebreaking and increased urination.  Sorting out behavioral water drinking from a medical condition can be a challenge for your veterinarian. The sooner you and your veterinarian diagnose why your dog is drinking more water the sooner your veterinary team can help manage the problem and send your dog on a path to better health.  The Vet Set team is experienced in managing these dogs, and if you need help please let us know!

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a concerning tick-borne infection for us in this region as it can affect both dogs and humans. The Eastern coastal states have the highest prevalence of Lyme disease in the country. While we may not see too many ticks here in Manhattan, many of us travel outside of the city with our dogs and into surrounding areas with heavy tick populations. Lyme disease is endemic in Long Island, Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley, as well as many other popular destinations. The purpose of this posting is to inform you about the disease itself and about the best ways to prevent infection in your dog. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to dogs in this area via the deer tick or eastern blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Affected dogs show signs of fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain. Dogs will often have painful swollen joints that appear to resolve, only to have another joint become affected days to weeks later. This condition is classic for Lyme disease and is often referred to as a “shifting leg lameness”. Less commonly, some dogs with Lyme disease can also develop kidney disease that can be quite significant and even be fatal. There are specific blood tests available to test your dog for exposure to Lyme. Results of these tests can lead to some confusion as many dogs will be exposed to this bacterium, but never show signs of illness. A thorough examination and discussion with your veterinarian is warranted if you are concerned about Lyme disease in your dog or if your dog has tested positive for the disease. The infection, if diagnosed early, can be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, some dogs can have lasting arthritis and irreversible kidney damage. While Lyme disease can affect humans as well it is not possible to become infected directly from your dog. The infection can only be transmitted to us via a tick bite. All ticks are not infected with these bacteria and once a tick bites, it takes 24-48 hours of being attached to the dog or human before it can start to transmit the bacteria to a dog or person. It is therefore important to check yourself and your dog for ticks and remove them immediately once they are found to help prevent transmission of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Tick prevention with an oral or topical product is also important for dogs that spend time outside of the city or in areas known to have ticks. Most prescription tick preventatives will kill a tick in 24 hours or less thereby dramatically decreasing your dog’s risk of contracting Lyme disease. There is a vaccination for Lyme disease that is given to dogs with a higher risk of exposure. The veterinarians at The Vet Set can help you decide if this vaccine is important for your dog based on her lifestyle.

Vaccines

Let’s talk about vaccines. We all know our pets need them, but sometimes it’s a little confusing as to why and how often. A vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease. We give them to all pets to prevent infectious diseases that can harm or kill your dog or cat. Side effects or reactions are rare, but can occur 1-2 days after receiving a vaccine and include lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, diarrhea, facial swelling, or breathing problems. While it’s important to report any vaccine reactions to your veterinarian, the side effects are generally self-limiting. When puppies and kittens are first born they receive their initial antibodies from their mother’s milk. Our current vaccines are excellent at stimulating immunity in older puppies in just one or two shots. However, puppies and kittens who nursed on their mother’s milk have maternal antibodies in their blood that block the immune system from responding to these vaccines. These circulating maternal antibodies protect them from bacterial and viral assault while the puppy’s or kitten’s immune system is maturing. But they also prevent the puppy’s and kitten’s immune system from becoming activated by vaccines. As the puppy and kitten ages, the maternal antibody levels decline. By as early as 6 weeks, 25% of puppies and kittens have a strong immune response to vaccinations, and by 14 to 16 weeks of age the maternal antibodies have fallen enough to allow a full immune response in 90% of puppies and kittens. Veterinarians administer vaccines for the major viral diseases every 3-4 weeks starting around 6 to 8 weeks of age to increase the likelihood that as the maternal antibodies are falling, the lower levels don’t leave the puppy or kitten exposed to disease but instead, the immune system is activated. Once the puppy or kitten has received their full series they should be boostered in one year, and then every 3 years thereafter for the core viral vaccines. The core viral vaccines for dogs include Rabies and DA2PPV and for cats include Rabies and FVRCP. An alternative for the viral diseases is performing viral titers to measure the amount of circulating antibody to ensure your pet is protected against these potentially fatal diseases. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated against Rabies. Rabies is a fatal central nervous system disease that can spread to owners. There is no cure for Rabies and pets diagnosed with it are euthanized. The first Rabies a dog or cat receives is a 1 year vaccine. After the initial Rabies vaccine the pet will be administered 3 year vaccines. It is a legal requirement to license your dog in New York City. You can follow the steps for license requirements here. Based upon your pet’s lifestyle there are different vaccines you’re going to want to administer to your pet to protect her. Most dogs are vaccinated against Bordetella a highly contagious upper respiratory disease. Other diseases dogs are vaccinated against can include Leptospirosis and Lyme’s disease. Outdoor cats are recommended to be vaccinated against feline leukemia. The veterinarians at The Vet Set are more than happy to help you assess your pet’s risk profile to ensure your pet is properly protected against these potentially fatal diseases.

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