How can I get my dog to stop gulping his water?
October 27, 2009 1:29 PM   Subscribe

My new dog's gulping water so quickly that he's making himself sick. How can I get him stop?

Yes, I Googled, but most of the answers dealt with gulping food and didn't seem to apply.

Last week, we got a dog, a sweet little terrier mix. He was from animal control, and has clearly had a rough time of it--you can count the knobs on his spine, and he's about the skinniest dog I've ever seen. (And that's after three weeks of regular feedings at the shelter.)

Housebreaking is going well, introducing him to the cats is going well... really, everything is pretty awesome, except that he doesn't seem able to moderate his water intake. Put him in front of a bowl of water, regardless of the size, he'll gulp it all down in moments. He's made himself sick on multiple occasions, gulping the water and then immediately vomiting it back up. How can I get him to stop?

Right now, he's on a leash in the house and it's easy enough to monitor his drinking habits. We're hoping to let him off by this weekend, but we can't do that until we're sure he's not going to make himself sick all the time.

Possibly relevant:
He doesn't mind when the bowl is taken away, just goes on to the next thing.
We have multiple cats, and they use a gravity-fed waterer. Only allowing the dog water on a schedule won't work, as he has access to the cats' water and will drink that if his own is gone.
He seems quite happy and healthy in all other regards, and doesn't seem bothered when he vomits the water back up.
He's urinating regularly with no signs of strain or distress.
posted by MeghanC to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Presumably your cats can leap to a higher location than the dog? Put their water dishes on a counter/table.
posted by jkaczor at 1:31 PM on October 27, 2009

Best answer: The vet diagnosed my dog with neurotic drinking. One of the suggestions was to give her ice cubes instead of water. She loves ice cubes. It gives her something to chew on and controls her water intake.

Have you taken your dog to the vet? Excessive drinking can be associated with several problems. (Not to scare you.)

As jkaczor suggests, can you put the cats' water bowl on a counter?
posted by parakeetdog at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2009

For what it's worth, our crazy mutt did this for a while and outgrew it. We tried to limit the amount of water in his bowl but topped it up frequently. We also trained him on "enough" by giving him a treat when he stopped drinking when we said enough.

I would ask a vet, but I hope anecdotal evidence that it might not be severe helps a bit.
posted by JMOZ at 1:47 PM on October 27, 2009

Try putting a golf ball in the water bowl, or something heavier that he has to lap around.
posted by scarykarrey at 1:49 PM on October 27, 2009

Yeah, Nthing water on the table for the cats, they'll figure it out.

Obviously, get to a vet. Diabetes is one of several candidates here (especially with the low weight), and waiting won't improve the situation. Once those things are ruled out, you can start on the behavioral side.

In the meantime, you may have to put water down for him in doses small enough that he won't vomit but frequently enough that he gets enough. Or you might try one of those large gerbil-type bottles for dogs (I suspect they are horribly drippy, so you'll need to accommodate that) and see if the unusual format slows him down or even stops the behavior.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:55 PM on October 27, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, I would definitely ask a vet. It could be a sign of something serious, or not. After my dog had surgery, the vet recommended that I bring him home and make sure his water bowl was only partway full, because gulping down water can be a way that dogs cope with stress or feelings of anxiety. That could certainly be the culprit, since he's still acclimating to a new environment.
posted by booknerd at 2:01 PM on October 27, 2009

nthing asking a vet -- it could be diabetes, a thyroid condition, etc. But as booknerd says, it can also be a way some dogs cope with stress -- our Fox Terrier is given to phases of gulping crazy amounts of water if we don't monitor her.
posted by scody at 2:26 PM on October 27, 2009

Best answer: Our dog does this occasionally - rat terrier for reference - if it's not something medical I'd suggest the following:

1. SMALL amounts of water in the bowl at a time
2. Try ice cubes. Our dog LOVES them, will crunch them all up. If your dog's the same, you can get it some fluids but slow down the intake. Also nice/fun to put a few into the water bowl with a little bit of water to melt over time or be eaten.
posted by finitejest at 2:43 PM on October 27, 2009

I have a dog like this. After we ruled out medical conditions, the vet diagnosed her as a compulsive drinker - she literally just does not know when to stop drinking. My solution has been to simply limit the water available to her. She will not seek out other water sources (like drinking out of the toilet) once the bowl is empty, so I just limit what I put in the bowl.
posted by tryniti at 2:50 PM on October 27, 2009

I don't know if this would help, but they do have dog water bottles that are like hamster bottles. You know, the kind where they are turned upside down with a spout that has a ball bearing in it and the dog laps it up that way. It would be a slower process than lapping out of a bowl. Basically, they are the same as the hamster bottles except bigger. We used one with one of our dogs in her crate during the day because she would make a godawful mess out of a bowl of water. Warning: Our cats used this bottle to groom themselves with. Not harmful, but sometimes pissed the dog off.
posted by Bueller at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2009

Gulping water is often a sign of illnesses, like diabetes and metabolic or bladder disorders. Please call your vet.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:22 PM on October 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, you guys.

It seems that all I had to do to fix the problem was post about it--shortly after I'd posted, my husband came upstairs and happily informed me that the dog had been with him and a full bowl of water for about two hours. Occasionally drinking, no gulping. It's been several hours, and there's still a mostly full water bowl about three feet from him.

We're taking him to the vet next week, and I'll be sure to mention this just in case, but in the meantime, it seems like it's solved itself.
posted by MeghanC at 4:11 PM on October 27, 2009

My wife IS a vet and one thing you do have to worry about with heavy consumption of both food and/or water is bloat (where the dog's stomach flips over on itself). This especially has been nicknamed gluttony bloat, too much eating and/or drinking. Just be careful of rigorous exercise after eating/drinking as well.

Moving the cats bowl to a higher place is a great idea. Also, limiting the amount of water you put out for the dog at a time is also a good idea.

Make sure to take the dog to your vet and rule any medical issues out.
posted by TheBones at 4:13 PM on October 27, 2009

« Older Help me find the blackberry delicousness, please.   |   I am neither pregnant with an alien baby nor dead... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.