There can be several reasons why a puppy may seem to drink more water than normal. The first reason is the most common. As puppies mature, so do their organs. Puppies are born with kidneys that become fully functional with age. Until approximately 11-16 weeks of age, a puppy’s kidneys cannot concentrate urine. This means, whatever they drink, they urinate out and it can be more difficult to stay hydrated.
We never recommend withholding water in a young animal because of this nuance. This is also why it can be difficult to fully potty train a puppy before 16 weeks of age. As they age, puppies’ kidneys get better at concentrating urine; therefore, when they drink water, the kidneys hold back that water and recirculate it in the body. Proper kidney function allows dogs (and us) to drink water a few times a day and not become dehydrated.
What Is Normal Water Intake?
Normal water intake is roughly 0.5 ounce to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day (40-70ml/kg/day).
Normal Water Intake Per Day
Excessive water intake is considered if the pup/dog is drinking more than 2oz/lbs/day (>100ml/kg/day). So, double those normal intake levels.
If your puppy is older than 16 weeks and cannot hold his/her urine overnight or approximately longer than 6 hours, then we start to become concerned there may be a metabolic problem causing the excessive drinking.
We recommend calculating water intake over 3-5 days and taking an average of that to determine how much the puppy is drinking. If the puppy is truly drinking too much water (>2oz/lbs/day or 100ml/kg/day) and having problems with potty training, it is time to contact your veterinarian.
Issues From Drinking Too Much Water
True metabolic diseases that can cause drinking too much and then resultingly, excessive urination (polydipsia/polyuria) in young puppies are rare. The most often, but rare, causes include congenital/familial kidney disease, liver disease, juvenile diabetes insipidus, juvenile diabetes mellitus (found in less than 1.5% diabetics), juvenile hyperadrenocorticism/juvenile hypoadrenocorticism and juvenile hyperparathyroidism.
There is also the diagnosis of psychogenic polydipsia. This is a behavioral problem. It is more of a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning we rule out all of the metabolic causes. Interestingly, we prove it by hospitalizing the pup, carefully withholding water and proving the dog can concentrate his urine. Then we discuss behavioral modifications to help manage it.
Consider Your Puppy’s Diet
A final thing to consider is what the puppy is eating. Is it a homemade, boutique or mainstream AAFCO food trialed diet? Homemade, novelty and boutique diets may not be properly formulated and may contain too much sodium which would drive an increase in water consumption. Treats such as rawhides and pig ears and other dehydrated treats may drive water consumption. Wet food diets are 70% water. If an owner is comparing water intake between a puppy on a dry dog food versus wet dog food, the dry dog food pup will certainly drink more water.
Get Help When You Need It
If it seems your puppy is drinking too much water or is having difficulty potty training, please do not withhold water. Water deprivation can be extremely dangerous to a puppy if an underlying disease process is causing excessive drinking. Calculate an average water intake over 3-5 days and contact your veterinarian for further guidance.
Joanna is an experienced vet working in the UK. She has written about pets and pet health for many websites, blogs, and pet magazines and loves to help owners understand their pets through her writing.