A closer look: Decreased Thirst (Hypodipsia and Adipsia) in Dogs
A healthy dog needs to drink 20-40 mL of water per 1lb of body weight per day, although this varies significantly depending on age, breed, reproductive status, stress, exercise habits, diet, environment, and if medications are in use.
Decreased thirst may present as reduced thirst (hypodipsia) or a complete absence of thirst (adipsia). A complete absence of thirst is more severe, and can rapidly lead to dehydration.
Changes in thirst usually present alongside other symptoms, since changes are typically associated with underlying health problems. In rare cases, decreased thirst may be the only symptom a dog shows.
Emergency care is warranted for any dog that refuses to drink for more than 24 hours.
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Any underlying health condition can lead to decreased thirst if an affected dog is too weak or nauseated to drink, such as in cases of liver failure or kidney disease.
Some cases are determined to be primary hypodipsia, meaning the change in thirst is not related to a specific disease. Primary hypodipsia is most commonly identified in Schnauzers.
Decreased thirst is common, and can lead to dehydration if reduced water intake continues.
Severity is variable, depending on the underlying condition and amount of water intake that is occurring despite changes in thirst. A complete absence of water increases risk, especially for young, old, and chronically ill individuals. Dogs benefit from prompt veterinary attention, or immediate intervention if decreased thirst presents alongside other symptoms.
Testing and diagnosis
- A physical examination
- Diagnostic imaging
Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause. If a dog is severely dehydrated, treatment is accompanied by symptomatic therapy. This focuses on fluid replacement through IV or subcutaneously administered fluids.
Decreased thirst is distinct from a dog not drinking. Dogs may ‘not drink’ for reasons not determined by their level of thirst. Examples of changes in drinking behavior include:
- Refusal to drink from a contaminated water source
- Refusal to drink from an unfamiliar water source
- Learned behavior in dogs whose owners encourage them to drink more, whether or not it is medically necessary
In addition, sometimes pet parents perceive their dogs are not drinking enough even though they are. Veterinary evaluation can help determine individual intake recommendations if pet parents are unsure of their dog’s needs.