Q. I have a 10-year-old West Highland White Terrier who she can’t seem to get enough water lately. She drinks much more than she used to. Should I be concerned?
A. A dramatic increase in water intake in an older dog usually points to one of a few diseases, all of which can be ruled out with some simple tests. The first disease that must be ruled out is diabetes. Because glucose (sugar) is not absorbed into cells in the body, it passes out in the urine, pulling large amounts of water with it. Your dog then drinks more to replace it.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian for some basic testing. In addition to diabetes, the list of diseases that cause a large increase in water intake are kidney failure, Cushings disease, diabetes insipidus (another type of diabetes) and a few others. A good physical exam, a review of your dog’s history, and some simple blood and urine screening tests will narrow things down.
If your dog checks out OK at the vet and is acting totally normal otherwise, this could be something called psychogenic polydypsia, which happens when a dog starts drinking more water just because they are bored or they enjoy it. This dilutes the kidneys out, so they continue to drink large amounts of water. This condition is more common in young dogs, who tend to be “goofier.”
Finally, if your Westie has not been spayed, she may have a uterine infection. You will notice other signs, such as lethargy, loss of appetite and vulvar discharge.