Like any other living creature, dogs need water to survive -- but that might not be the only reason your dog is going for the bowl so often. While every dog loves a good drink, some hit the water harder than others, and it may be because of psychological or physical conditions. If you suspect that your dog is drinking more water than average on a regular basis, it may be time for a checkup with the vet.
The average dog should drink about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight on a daily basis, according to WebMD. This is based on relatively "normal" conditions, like average levels of exercise and temperature. If your dog is spending more time than usual outside in the heat or exercising, his thirst will naturally go up -- just like yours would under the same circumstances. Food may have an impact, as well -- dogs who eat dry kibble may consume more water than dogs eating wet food, as wet food has a high water content already. In general, most dogs should have constant access to water, as they will regulate their own intake.
Some dogs exhibit compulsive behavior, which may include excessive drinking. Other compulsions may include erratic behaviors like spinning, constant licking or face rubbing. There are many reasons why a dog may develop a compulsion like these, most of which are related to the dog's environment or treatment. For example, dogs who are frequently physically confined, abused, neglected or under-stimulated may develop compulsions as coping mechanisms. Behavioral therapy and addressing the cause of your dog's compulsion may help -- for example, giving your dog more exercise and attention.
If your dog is suddenly drinking more water than usual, it could be in response to an illness, such as diabetes and conditions like liver disease and kidney disease. Your dog may also drink more than usual if he is sick or fighting off an infection -- just like humans, dogs force fluids when they are ill. A dog who is drinking more water than usual should see a vet to rule out any long-term or otherwise serious health conditions.
For a dog, there is such a thing as drinking too much water. If a dog drinks too much water in a short period, it can negatively affect his blood, causing organs like the brain to swell. If your dog shows signs like nausea, poor coordination, vomiting or bloat after drinking, he should see a veterinarian immediately. While most dogs can regulate their own water consumption, others may need careful supervision, or they will gorge themselves to the point of sickness.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.