Does your dog tend to drink his water very rapidly?
Are you concerned that this “fast” drinking could bring harm to your dog?
Concerned your dog is drinking fast due to an underlying condition?
These are the topics we will address in more detail below.
Here we will list and explain several potential reasons for rapid drinking in dogs, and the negative consequences associated with this activity.
We will also outline a few strategies for slowing this behavior down and bringing an end to your pooch’s fast-paced lapping.
My Dog Drinks Water Too Fast: What Does This Mean?
The phrase, “My dog drinks water too fast,” is a statement that is usually posed to readers in a questioning or concerned tone, with or without the logical follow up question: “What should I do.”
But before we can properly dig into this statement (the reasons for it, consequences and coping strategies), it is crucial that we first define what is meant by “fast” in this particular context.
This definition will guide the remainder of our article.
The phrase, “My dog drinks water too fast,” at least for the purpose of this article, will mean exactly what it says: that a particular dog is rapidly lapping up the water in his bowl.
We point this out because the word “fast” in this phrase might also be taken to mean “frequently”—i.e. dogs that always seem thirsty.
This is certainly a subject for another article, but it will not be addressed here.
Why Does My Dog Drink So Fast—Possible Reasons
Determining why your dog drinks his water so rapidly is not always easy.
Nevertheless, here are a few possible reasons for the behavior:
In most cases, the reason for fast water consumption can be as simple as excessive thirst.
There are many reasons why a dog may become thirstier than normal, including:
- Raucous or extended play. When dogs are allowed to run around and play, either outside in your yard or at a dog park, they usually jump at the opportunity. But this high-spirited play can make them very thirsty, which in turn can cause rapid drinking.
- Certain medical conditions. As we alluded to in the opening, there are certain medical conditions that can bring about excessive thirst. These include, but are certainly not limited to, diabetes and kidney disease.
Fear of Missing Out
Just like us, when dogs are in the midst of doing something enjoyable, such as playing outside, they want to get back to that activity as soon as possible.
Therefore, when presented with an opportunity to quench their thirst, they will sometimes lap up the water as fast as possible, eager to get back to what they were doing.
In humans, we call this a “fear of missing out, or FOMO,” and this same instinct also applies to dogs.
Most well-loved and treasured pets have come to know that they will always have access to clean, refreshing drinking water.
This is especially true for dogs who have known no other environment than the loving and supporting one in which they currently find themselves.
But sadly, there are some dogs that have not always had this unfettered access to clean, cool drinking water, including many “rescue pets.”
These dogs tend to drink rapidly as a survival instinct, despite the potential consequences—taking in as much water as possible, as fast as possible, while the water is still there.
Negative Consequences of A Dogs’s Rapid Drinking
While we do not know all of the motivations for rapid drinking in dogs, the experts are well aware of the potential consequences to this behavior.
Here are just a few of the reasons why you should pay special attention to your dog’s drinking and eating habits.
Gastric Dilation (GD) and Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)
Just like their human counterparts, dogs can get bloated.
Usually, bloating, which is caused by an excess amount of trapped air in the stomach and/or intestines, is mild, but in some cases it can result in more serious consequences, such as gastric dilation (GD) and gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV).
In gastric dilation, a large and dangerous amount of air becomes trapped in the stomach.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, including rapid drinking.
And when mild bloating escalates to gastric dilation, and your dog is unable to relieve the condition via belching or flatulence, your veterinarian may need to respond to the problem and pump the air out manually.
In gastric dilation and volvulus, not only does the stomach become uncomfortably filled with an excess amount of air, it also becomes twisted, resulting in serious pain, a loss of appetite and other grave symptoms.
Gastric dilation and volvulus can be fatal if not rapidly treated.
In fact, GD and GDV collectively represent the second-most common cause of premature death in canines, trailing only cancer in this category.
Over-Hydration and Hypernatremia
Yes, there is such a thing as being too hydrated, in humans and in dogs.
Over-hydration, also called hyperhydration, can lessen the amount of sodium in the body, leading to lethargy and even death if not treated rapidly.
Hypernatremia, which is caused by over-hydration in dogs, is a condition that causes the body’s cells to rapidly expand.
This rapid expansion can result in the swelling of vital organs, preventing them from doing their pre-assigned jobs and sometimes resulting in fatal consequences.
Other Negative Consequences
There are several other potential negative consequences that can result from fast drinking, including vomiting; gagging; and choking, the latter caused by water that “goes down the wrong pipe” and essentially blocks the dog’s airway.
Ways to Slow Down a Fast-Drinking Dog
So just how does an owner go about changing the habits of a rapid-drinking dog?
Actually, there are several strategies that have proven successful in this regard, including:
- Elevate the water bowl. When dogs rapidly gulp as they are lapping up water, one reasons they do this is because gravity is working against them—they need to gulp fast to get enough water into their mouths. By elevating the water bowl, however, you take gravity away as an obstacle, allowing your pooch to drink slowly and freely while still getting the same amount of water from the bowl.
- Place an object in the water bowl. With a fairly large object in the water bowl (like a plastic ball), dogs will be forced to drink slower and more carefully as they negotiate this object. This is one of the most tried and true strategies for slowing down your dog’s drinking motion.
- Ice instead of water. If none of the above methods prove successful, you can always give your dog ice cubes rather than liquid water. This will force them to lick (rather than gulp) for their water.
Last but not least, you can always just limit your dog’s water supply, only giving him a certain amount to drink at various times of the day.
This can work well for owners who are home all day with their pets, but it is not recommended otherwise.
Leaving your dog without a good supply of water throughout the day is never the appropriate solution for this dilemma.