Restricting Water For Dog On Prednisone: Is It A Viable Option?

First Things First: What Does Prednisone Do For A Dog, Anyway?

When exploring the topic of whether restricting water for a dog on prednisone is a good idea or not, it’s important to first have an idea of what prednisone is and the different ways in which it can affect your best friend.

Prednisone is a steroid that is used to treat a variety of ailments in canines.

It converts to prednisolone in a dog’s liver, and the two glucocorticoids can be used interchangeably.

In fact, dogs that have impaired liver function will typically be given prednisolone directly so that the internal conversion process can be skipped.

Through its ability to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation, prednisone can be very effective against autoimmune disorders such as lupus and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).

Due to these potent immune suppression qualities, it is also beneficial in the treatment of allergic reactions such as itching and skin irritation, as well as conditions such as arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and some forms of cancer.

Prednisone is also often prescribed for the treatment of Addison’s Disease, a condition where there is insufficient production of natural steroid hormones.

The steroid medication is available in many different forms- as a tablet, liquid solution, or even through injection.

Once taken, prednisone takes effect rapidly and improvement on clinical signs can usually be seen within 1-2 hours of ingestion.

Similarly, the medication is short-acting enough that any effects should cease within 24 hours if administration is stopped.

Exact dosages vary for each dog and will be dependent on the weight of the canine as well as the specific condition being treated.

For example, 0.05 to 0.18 per pound of body weight of prednisone should initially be given for the treatment of Addison’s disease, while a dose of 0.25mg/pound is necessary to reduce allergy symptoms.

It is therefore vital to follow your vet’s instructions to the letter in order to provide the right dose of the medicine to your dog.

Does Prednisone Make A Dog Drink More Water?

Border collie standing in river shallows
It might feel like they want literal rivers of the stuff

In a word: Yes. Increased thirst is one of the primary hallmarks of prednisone administration in canines.

It manifests in both short and longer-term courses of treatment, and the increase usually occurs rapidly (in the first few hours following the first dose) in a very pronounced manner.

Along with the desire for more water, the dog will also often experience an increased appetite and more frequent urination.

Along with these symptoms, other common side effects can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Behavioral changes such as aggression
  • Lethargy
  • Allergic reactions
  • Slower wound healing or infections developing due to immune system suppression.

Increases in thirst usually won’t cause many additional physical or behavioral issues- though you might see something along the lines of the situations outlined below.

If constant water supply is not maintained and a dog drinks its water bowl dry, it may go looking elsewhere for water.

This can include such excellent sources as that bucket outside (that’s been sitting with still water and little black worms for months), or your toilet basin.

Obviously these are not the best places for your dog to satisfy it’s increased water intake requirements due to health reasons, so it’s important to keep your pup’s water dish full to the brim as much as possible.

Parched pooches may also bark more incessantly to signal their request for more H2O, and will often chew destructively out of frustration if they don’t receive the hydration they need.

The simple answer to all this is to ensure that you provide your pup with as much water as it needs! However, as we all know, it’s not always so straightforward.

Increased water intake subsequently brings with it an increased need to urinate. Due to this increased need, toilet accidents in the home may also become much more common.

Bladder issues such as incontinence and urinary tract infections will be discussed in more detail in the sections below.

Do Dogs Need More Water On Prednisone?

restricting water for dog on prednisone

Prednisone makes dogs feel thirstier, so it follows that you should provide them with more water!

In fact, some dogs may drink more than one gallon of water per day while they’re on the medicine.

As a result, it’s your responsibility to ensure your dog’s water bowl never runs empty.

Therefore, if you work outside your home and are away for most of the day, providing your dog with extra water is essential.

However, there’s no need to immediately panic and splash out (pun intended!) for a bigger or fancier water bowl.

Your dog’s Prednisone medication already costs enough, so there’s no need to spend money on a larger water bowl- especially if your vet prescribed it only for short-term use.

Instead, get creative– your dog won’t mind drinking out of that plastic ice cream or cherry pie carton you finished the night before, as long as it is clean!

(Actually, I’m sure your dog would absolutely love it if you left a bit of ice cream in there, but I digress.)

When in doubt, it’s always best to overestimate how much water your dog needs when they’re on Prednisone.

Understanding Dehydration

Person helping husky to drink from bottle

As we’ve already mentioned above, one of the reasons your dog needs more water while taking Prednisone is that it causes them to urinate more frequently.

In fact, you may find that your dog is a true drinking and urinating machine when it’s on the medication!

Furthermore, panting, regular breathing, and even evaporation through their paws are all daily occurrences that cause your dog to lose water.

So, if you don’t provide your dog with as much water as they want to drink when they’re on Prednisone, they can end up losing more fluids than they take in. This can of course lead to dehydration.

Dehydration is a potentially life-threatening condition, causing issues such as:

If you notice your dog’s water bowl is empty, refill it immediately and encourage them to drink! Also, be on the lookout for dehydration symptoms as listed below.

Signs of dehydration in dogs can include:

Your dog will likely naturally want to drink more when on Prednisone, and when offered more water if they’ve been without it. However, if they seem reluctant, there are some tactics you can try to get them to drink.

Examples include:

  • Adding meat or chicken broth to their water
  • Feeding them wet food
  • Testing out different water bowls
  • In a last resort scenario, using a syringe or turkey baster and directly feeding the dog through the mouth.

Water is a wonderful- scratch that- vital for a dog’s overall health, so make sure that your pup gets enough during this time. In fact, you can even add some homemade additives to the aqua to freshen your pooch’s breath at the same time!

Can A Dog Drink Too Much Water On Prednisone?

Noticing that your dog’s water bowl is empty after they started taking Prednisone can be a shocking discovery.

However, you’ll likely refill it and may even joke with your dog about their drinking habits as you lovingly pet them.

But later in the day, you notice that their water bowl is empty again! Understandably, now you’re a little more worried that they might be drinking too much water.

Rest assured: Although Prednisone makes dogs thirstier, they usually won’t overdrink to the point of becoming sick (or having diarrhea).

Therefore, you must always provide your dog with a constant supply of water.

In fact, one of the reasons why Prednisone causes a dog to drink more is because it also makes them urinate more. As a result, they’ll increase their water intake to keep their bodily system in order.

When a dog isn’t on Prednisone, they consume a daily average of one ounce of water per pound of body weight.

Many factors impact this average, which also holds true for dogs who take Prednisone.

For example, if your dog is taking Prednisone and one or more of the following situations apply, you can be sure that they’ll drink even more water than the average dog on Prednisone.

These situations include but aren’t limited to:

  • Hot climate
  • Lots of physical activity
  • Switching from wet food to dry food
  • Feeding your dog salty treats
  • Additional medical conditions unrelated to the Prednisone

Needless to say, simultaneously starting your dog on Prednisone and then experiencing one of the following situations above will ultimately result in your pup drinking even more excessively than if they were only taking the medicine.

Furthermore, another symptom of Prednisone is an increased appetite and hunger. Just like humans typically drink more when we consume more food, dogs do too.

So, if you end up feeding your dog more because they’re on Prednisone, you can expect them to display an increase in thirst as well. That’s especially the case if you feed them dry food instead of wet food.

The bottom line is that your dog knows how much water they need. Therefore, they won’t ever drink themselves to death- even when on Prednisone.

For this reason, you must provide them with an ample amount of fresh, clean water all day long.

How Much Water Should A Dog On Prednisone Drink?

Dog drinking water straight out of hose
Probably not this much?

Normal, healthy dogs that are not on any medication typically require around 8 ounces of water per 10 pounds of body weight in a single day.

When a dog is taking prednisone, it is common for it to need twice that amount.

As an example, a twenty pound pup that previously would’ve needed 16 ounces of water per day would require approximately 32 ounces once on the steroid.

While this may seem like a lot, it is the amount that the dog’s body needs at this moment in time in order to function optimally.

The dog will not drink more than its body needs, and typically no major problems will arise from temporary water intake increases.

Can Prednisone Cause Bladder Issues In Dogs?

Female dog urinating in park

Unfortunately, prednisone can cause bladder issues in dogs, so you should speak with your vet to understand the full scope of the medication’s side effects and how you can prepare for them.

For example, a common symptom of Prednisone is urinary incontinence, which is otherwise known as the loss of bladder control.

Incontinence results in distressing situations such as your pooch wetting its bed during sleep, or randomly dribbling urine while walking around.

It’s understandably a troublesome situation for dogs and their owners since it could start accidentally leaking urine in your home at any time.

In some cases, it might be just a few dribbles of urine. In others, it could be larger puddles of pee pooling on the ground.

Regardless of how much urine you find on your floor, it’s a good idea to inform your vet if you notice your dog losing bladder control.

That way, they can rule out the possibility of other health conditions which may require different medication such as Proin (or its alternatives).

The good news is that even if your dog struggles with urinary incontinence, they’ll still likely ask to go outside to do most of their business.

Additionally, given how much water they’ll be drinking because of the Prednisone, you can expect them to need to go outside more frequently than usual.

What that means is a little more effort on your part in taking them out every 2 hours as opposed to 4 in order for them to relieve their bladder.

Although it may feel tempting to reduce the amount of water you give your dog because of this issue, don’t!

Your dog needs the extra water because Prednisone forces the body to remove liquids. Therefore, they’re instinctively keeping themselves hydrated.

Urinary tract infections are another bladder issue that can arise when dogs take Prednisone.

Unfortunately, identifying this disease can occasionally be difficult as your dog’s frequent urination may mask common symptoms.

Namely, symptoms of urinary tract infections can include more frequent urination and drinking.

If your vet prescribed Prednisone for your pup long-term, they may ask you to bring in a periodic urine sample.

That way, they can test for bacteria and white blood cells that indicate the presence of an immune response to an urine infection.

In Conclusion

If you are at your wit’s end because your dog is peeing all over the place after being put on prednisone, hang in there!

It’s not an easy time, but if your vet has prescribed the medication for your pup it has to be in its best interests.

If you are wondering whether restricting water for a dog that is on prednisone is a viable option, I would recommend that you don’t take such an action.

A dog that is currently undergoing prednisone treatment should be allowed all the water that it wants– even if it comes at the expense of a few uncharacteristic toilet accidents and soiled carpets.

Remember: Your pup isn’t doing it intentionally! Always try to be as patient as possible, and take your best pal out to do its business more frequently (especially at night).

Once your dog has recovered from the condition for which it is being treated and is weaned off the medicine, its water intake and urination patterns will quickly return to normal as well!

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