Too Much of a Good Thing

We love when our animals are eating and drinking well.  After all, a hearty appetite and ample thirst are positive tangible affirmations about the quality of our pets’ lives.  I think this is the reason why so many people delay consulting with their veterinarian when they notice an obvious increase in their pet’s thirst or appetite.  They ascribe busting into the garbage pail, begging at the dinner table, and eating foreign objects to bad behavior rather than an underlying medical issue.  Filling the water bowl more frequently than normal may simply go unnoticed or may be viewed as simply “more of a good thing.” 

Well, I’m here to provide you with a wake up call! If your dog has recently turned into a major “chowhound” or your kitty has become obsessed with her water bowl, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.  An overt increase in thirst or appetite is often a symptom of an underlying medical abnormality.  Increased thirst typically accompanies kidney disease, liver disease, and underlying hormonal imbalances such as diabetes, Addison’s disease (too little cortisone), Cushing’s disease (too much cortisone), and overproduction of thyroid hormone.  A dog or cat whose appetite is uncharacteristically insatiable may have pancreatic disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.  (More information about all of these diseases can be found in Speaking for Spot).    

The good news is that, when associated with disease, increased thirst and appetite tend to be early symptoms.  Paying attention to them sooner rather than later will give you and your vet a head start on making a diagnosis and initiating therapy.  And in most cases, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis.  Remember, our dogs and cats tend to be creatures of habit.  Anything that seems out of character is deserving of your attention and discussion with your veterinarian.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

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3 Comments on “Too Much of a Good Thing

  1. Is there a medical reason for a dog to start licking incessantly? My
    12 year old licks everything….. walls, the floor, the sidewalk, us, everything!

  2. I can’t stress enough how true this is. When my senior cocker’s appetite went insane, along with increased pacing, I spent too long a time trying to figure it out. It wasn’t until his severe acute pancreatitis attack (and $2500 medical bill) that the cause of the behavior became abundantly clear. I now suspect he’d been bothered by a chronic condition that had to blow up in our faces before he got the needed care and went on the proper preventive regime.

  3. Thank you for the excellent reminder to pay attention to these behavior changes. Our 14.5 year old labby started to urinate and drink water constantly while exhibiting a very strong appetite (normal for a labby). We were surprised to learn he became diabetic when we took him to the vet!! He is now on insulin and a routine schedule which has helped him immensely! Our vet said we caught it quickly because we responded to his sudden change in behavior and took him into our vet. Don’t delay !!