We all need water. Whether you’re human or canine, water keeps you happy, healthy, and alive. However, Labradors frequently seem to go a bit overboard with their water drinking. Whenever you turn your head, they seem to be guzzling down another bowl of life-giving liquid.
Why do Labradors drink so much water? Labradors drink so much water for a variety of reasons. It’s hard to say exactly why your Labrador is drinking so much at any given moment, although the answer typically boils down to one simple reason: they’re thirsty.
Excessive water consumption can be concerning, especially if your Labrador doesn’t typically drink that much.
To help you figure out exactly why your Labrador is drinking so much water ‒ and whether you should be concerned about it ‒ I’ve compiled this list of all the reasons your Labrador might be drinking excessively.
How much water should my Labrador be drinking?
The standard amount of water required for a dog in a day is about an ounce per pound of body weight. Most Labradors weight between 55 and 80 pounds, so your Labrador probably needs between 55 and 80 ounces of water per day.
Some Labrador weights can be over or under the limits of this range though, so it’s best to weigh your Labrador ‒ preferably on a professional scale at a vet’s office ‒ to determine the exact amount of water your pup should be getting per day.
While the one ounce of water per one pound of body weight formula is typically fine in most situations, the amount of water your Labrador needs is also dependent on the weather, their activity level, and any illnesses they might be suffering from.
The rest of this article will explore these possibilities and discuss the effects they might be having on your Labrador.
Cause #1: Hot weather
Excessive heat is one of the most common reasons a Labrador will begin drinking more than it usually does. Dogs can’t sweat like humans do ‒ they have to get rid of heat through panting, which causes water loss through evaporation.
The water lost during panting can be replenished by drinking, so dogs who are dealing with a spell of particularly hot weather will inevitably increase their water consumption.
So if it’s pretty hot out, I wouldn’t be too worried about your Labrador suddenly drinking more.
They’re losing more water than usual because the heat is causing them to pant more often, and they have to replenish that water in the only way they know how ‒ by lapping it up with their tongue.
Cause #2: Recent exercise
Hot weather is one way to heat a dog’s body up, but it isn’t the only way. A recent bout of extended exercise can also cause a dog to pant excessively, which will force them to drink more water than they might otherwise be used to.
So again, if your dog was recently working out, excessive water consumption shouldn’t be at all concerning.
You should be worried if your dog was exercising in extremely hot weather though.
The lack of sweat glands makes it particularly easy for dogs to overheat, which can lead to a dangerous condition called heat stroke. In addition to drinking lots of water, the signs your dog might have heat stroke include:
- Increased drooling
- Reddened gums
- Sluggish movement
- Temporary loss of consciousness
If you think your dog might be suffering from heat stroke, you need to get them to a vet’s office right away.
Cause #3: Kidney failure
Kidney failure is an extremely serious diagnosis, and one of the main symptoms is a noticeable increase in the amount of water your dog drinks. Kidney failure is typically caused by ingesting toxic substances, but can also occur as a result of the following things:
- A decrease in blood and oxygen flow to the kidneys
- Dental disease
- Urinary obstruction
- Various infections
Kidney failure can be fatal if not treated immediately, so you should get your Labrador to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect their kidneys aren’t working properly.
In addition to drinking more water, this list of common symptoms will help you identify potential kidney failure in your Labrador:
- Change in urine production
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Blood in urine
- Chemical odor coming from mouth
- Mouth ulcers
- Inability to walk without stumbling
Cause #4: Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is another illness characterized by an increase in water consumption. This disease occurs in the pancreas, which is a small organ situated under the stomach.
When a dog is suffering from diabetes mellitus, they are suffering from the inability of the pancreas to regulate their blood sugar.
Let me explain how it works in a nutshell.
Your body needs glucose. It’s a necessary substance that gives energy to cells. However, before it can give energy to these cells, it must first be absorbed by the cells. Insulin helps glucose get absorbed by cells ‒ which is why human diabetics take insulin every day.
If the body doesn’t have enough insulin, the glucose can’t get inside the cells and instead accumulates in the bloodstream. This excess of glucose in the blood is the cause of diabetes mellitus.
In addition to increased consumption of water, this disease is characterized by three other primary symptoms:
- Increased urination
- Excessive weight loss
- Increased appetite
If you notice any of these symptoms in a Labrador that is already drinking too much, I strongly recommend going to the vet. Untreated diabetes mellitus can lead to hypoglycemia ‒ also known as low blood sugar ‒ which can result in death.
The treatment of a dog with diabetes mellitus can be intense ‒ they will need two shots of insulin each day, and proper nutrition becomes even more important than it is with healthy dogs. Fortunately, a dog with properly managed diabetes mellitus can live a happy and healthy life.
Cause #5: Cushing’s disease
Cushing’s disease is an illness that affects the endocrine system, which is composed of a series of glands that produce the hormones that regulate the body’s processes.
One of these hormones is something called cortisol, which helps the body manage stress and deal with the immune system. Sometimes the body can produce too much cortisol though ‒ this is essentially what Cushing’s disease is.
Cushing’s disease develops when the endocrine system of a dog produces too much cortisol. Older dogs are most often affected, but the risk for dogs of any age to develop Cushing’s disease is still present.
Most cases are caused by issues in the pituitary gland, although about one in five is caused by issues in the adrenal gland.
In addition to increased thirst and water consumption, the following symptoms are a good indicator that your Labrador might be suffering from Cushing’s disease:
- Increased urination
- Accidental urination
- Increased hunger
- Excessive panting
- Swollen abdomen
- Excessive weight gain
- Hair loss
- Lack of energy
- Muscle weakness
- Inexplicable bruising
Cause #6: Psychogenic polydipsia
Psychogenic polydipsia is the medical term used to describe increased water consumption and urination.
Technically, this condition can be caused by any number of different ailments (like kidney failure or Cushing’s disease) but the symptom on its own is called psychogenic polydipsia.
Although a few of the causes mentioned in this article are pretty scary, increased water consumption doesn’t have to be caused by some kind of serious illness.
Sometimes, your Labrador is simply bored or stressed, and drinking water is a behavior that alleviates that boredom or anxiety.
Your Labrador may also be lonely and attempting to get attention from you. If this is the case, playing with them and taking them out on walks should go a long way toward fixing the problem.
And if your dog is drinking a lot to get attention, you’re going to be taking them on a lot of potty walks anyway ‒ which might be your dog’s plan.
In the end, you may just have to deal with the fact that your Labrador simply likes drinking a lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with them ‒ maybe they just really like water.