Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.
As a former vet tech, I often see dogs on prednisone, a common corticosteroid medication used to treat a variety of conditions including allergies, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.
While it can be a very effective treatment, it also brings about some notable side effects, one of which is increased thirst and urination.
Which makes many dog owners think about restricting water for dogs on prednisone, but should you?
You should not restrict your dog from drinking water when it is on Prednisone. In my experience, although there is a risk of water intoxication, most dogs are able to regulate their intake and do not require intervention. That is not to say you should not monitor it and make necessary adjustments.
This post will first address the main subject in question, then move on to more general and related topics. You can use the table of contents below to navigate to the sections most relevant to you.
- Does Prednisone Make A Dog Drink More Water?
- Do Dogs Need More Water On Prednisone?
- Can A Dog Drink Too Much Water On Prednisone?
- Can Prednisone Cause Bladder Issues In Dogs?
- What is Prednisone for dogs?
- Known Prednisone Side Effects For Dogs
- Other Causes of Excessive Drinking. Why is my Dog Always Thirsty?
- In Conclusion: Restricting Water For Dog On Prednisone
Does Prednisone Make A Dog Drink More Water?
Yes, dogs that take prednisone may have increased thirst and urine.
This is because Prednisone reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system, which inadvertently causes your dog to become thirstier as its body tries to eliminate extra fluids.
Not only that, but Prednisone can also cause dogs to become hungrier, although that might only be a perceived feeling.
Prednisone can also cause its kidneys to retain salt and discharge more potassium, and you guessed it, become thirstier.
Do Dogs Need More Water On Prednisone?
It’s an important question to ask, as our dogs don’t really know what is going on and what is good for them during this time.
Excessive consumption of water can lead to water intoxication, a condition that can potentially lead to serious problems such as seizures and even death.
That said, dogs on Prednisone do need more water than usual as that is a common side effect of taking it.
But it does not mean it needs to be overboard, so you as the owner need to step in and regulate it.
Can A Dog Drink Too Much Water On Prednisone?
Yes, it is possible for a dog to drink too much water when taking this medication.
Because of that, it might lead to intoxication where the bloodstream becomes too diluted, causing an imbalance of electrolytes in the body.
In serious cases, this can lead to neurological damage or even fatality.
How Much Water Should A Dog On Prednisone Drink?
In normal times, we always have a general rule of thumb where we give our dogs an ounce of water for each pound they weigh.
This means that if you have a dog that has a body weight of 30 pounds, it should be drinking 30 ounces of water each day.
We also know that if a dog consumes more than double this amount each day, it is excessive (known as polydipsia).
However, when your dog is on prednisone medication, doing so is quite normal as it is trying to replace the fluids lost due to increased urination.
There are no exact limits, but I would not give my dogs more than twice their daily intake during this time.
Should I limit my dog’s water intake while on prednisone?
No, you do not need to limit your dog’s water intake while it is on Prednisone unless it becomes excessive.
My rule of thumb is that it becomes a concern if it is drinking more than twice its daily requirement.
However, most dogs know how to regulate themselves and are very unlikely to “overdrink”.
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Can Prednisone Cause Bladder Issues In Dogs?
The main bladder issues we are most concerned with are usually urinary incontinence and urinary tract infection (UTI).
For dogs that experience incontinence (involuntary urine leakage), this is due to the muscular sphincter that typically keeps pee from running down the urethra being too relaxed, and is more common in females.
Similarly, the bladder may occasionally swell while a dog is sound asleep during the night, which leads to accidentally peeing. (also why some owners withhold water from dog at night)
This will usually go away after a while, or you might need to consult a vet who can prescribe medicines to strengthen the urethral sphincter.
Another common issue is that prednisone can increase the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs too.
According to VCA Hospital, there is a 30% chance of it happening, and in most cases, this can only be detected through urine culture testing.
What is Prednisone for dogs?
Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid that functions similarly to the adrenal glands’ naturally occurring cortisol hormone.
Although they are frequently referred to as “steroids,” they are not the same as anabolic steroids, which some athletes frequently use illicitly to gain muscle mass.
It is used to treat inflammatory, allergic, and immune-mediated conditions in dogs, and has also been used to treat cancer, immune-mediated polyarthritis, and Addison’s disease.
A prescription is needed from your vet, and it is available in both oral and injectable forms. There are also alternatives where it can be used in a liquid form for easier intake.
Known Prednisone Side Effects For Dogs
Although this drug is highly useful for treating a number of conditions in dogs, it does have a few nasty side effects.
That is also why you must follow your vet’s directions carefully and never allow your dog to overdose on it.
You must also monitor for changes in behavior that can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed first.
Here are the known side effects of Prednisone:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Weight gain
- Increased appetite
- Reduced immune function (increased risk of infections)
- Changes in behavior (such as aggression or restlessness)
- Hair loss
- Delayed wound healing
- Gastrointestinal ulceration
Other Causes of Excessive Drinking. Why is my Dog Always Thirsty?
It is quite rare to see a dog drink too much water for its own good, but hey, it happens.
If you suspect your dog is doing so, here are some of the most common reasons that cause it:
- Dehydration: When dogs become dehydrated through excessive exercise, exposure to the sun (or heat), or other factors, they WILL need extra water
- Diabetes: Due to higher blood sugar levels, your dog will experience greater thirst and urination, leading it to consume more water
- Kidney disease: As their kidneys attempt to make up for the lowered capacity to filter toxins from the body, dogs with renal disease may drink more water
- Cushing’s disease: Due to increased thirst and urination brought on by high levels of corticosteroids in the body, dogs with Cushing’s disease (a hormonal illness) will start drinking a lot more than usual
- Medications: Prednisone, diuretics like furosemide, and phenobarbital (a type of seizure medicine) have all been reported to cause dogs to drink an excessive amount of water or even throw up
You should know that these causes do not appear out of the blue.
It is likely that your dog has shown some signs leading up to it, so always pay close attention to how it’s behaving.
Any changes in behavior are always the first sign that you need to observe closely, at least for the next couple of days until things get back to normal or for you to take further action.
Can prednisone cause incontinence in dogs?
Yes, Prednisone can cause uncontrollable urination in dogs, and this is known as urinary incontinence. It may result from the weakened urinary sphincter muscles caused by prednisone or bladder and urethral inflammation, which could make it harder for the dog to contain their urine.
Does prednisone affect a dog’s kidneys?
When on Prednisone, a dog’s kidneys tend to retain sodium while excreting more potassium, causing the body’s electrolytes to become unbalanced. It may occasionally result in more serious changes to the kidneys, such as inflammation or renal damage, when used for an extended period of time or at high doses.
Is my dog’s nighttime urination due to prednisone?
Yes, there is a high likelihood that it is related. Due to the fact that it is drinking a lot more water now and is subject to higher frequency of urination, having an accident at night is not uncommon. Some dogs also develop incontinence, which affects their ability to hold pee in.
In Conclusion: Restricting Water For Dog On Prednisone
When taking care of a dog that is taking prednisone, it’s important to be aware of any potential side effects, but don’t worry too much.
As long as you follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and are proactive about monitoring your dog, it will all work out fine.
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