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Q: Does anyone have any strategies for limiting how much water my puppy will drink at one time?


My female Yorkshire Terrier is coming on to five months old. Ever since we got her she has always vomited after drinking too much water. I first noticed this when we would play. We'd play fetch, run around the kitchen a bunch, she would stop for water (lapping up quite a bit), run around some more and then vomit it all.

I brought this up with the vet and they were not concerned -- said it was fairly common. Their recommendation was to take away water during play time, or give it to my puppy myself, and it give it back afterwards.

I've been doing that for a while (last two months) and it has been good but now as soon as she has access to her water she drinks it like it's going out of style. Sure enough, it comes back up ten seconds later.

At this point I've taken the water away completely (past two days) and I'm giving her water in small bursts here and there. My problem is that I just have no idea how much water a puppy needs, or when. It would be much easier if she would simply control her water intake.

  • It always comes back up ten to fifteen seconds after she drinks.
  • When I am giving the water I let her take about 10 laps max.
  • When she has access she'll go for 30 to 40 laps.
  • I've tried using ice cubes but she waits for them to melt and then drinks it all.
  • Her demeanor has not changed. She resumes playing right after regurgitating.

For clarity, these past two days in which I've been restricting her water she has not vomited at all.

  • You might consider a Lixit dog bottle or similar, as it might slow her water intake, giving her time to calm down, and digest more of the water. – Neal Young Jun 23 at 0:48
  • @NealYoung -- I was looking at something like this. Is that about the same thing? – C. Lange Jun 23 at 4:36
  • Not sure, I've never seen one of those. Not quite the same, but maybe it would work? – Neal Young Jun 23 at 12:36
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First of all: I have no idea why she would drink so much that she imediately vomits afterwards.

A common problem - especially with small dogs - is pet food with a high grain content. The dog eats as much as she comfortably can, which fills her stomach. Then, when the water she drinks is mixed with the food in her stomach, the food swells up and cannot be contained comfortably in her stomach anymore, which induces vomiting. You might try mixing the food with some water before feeding her or changing food brands.


Apart from that, I see a possible behavior-related problem here that could increase her water intake even more.

By taking the water away from her you create an artificial scarcity. This in return causes her to value the scarce resources even more. In time it could spiral out of control to the point where she drinks every drop of water she can get to even if she isn't thirsty, simply because she learned that water is valuable and must be consumed immediately.

A better short term solution would be offering her small amounts many times a day. A quarter cup is really not a big amount, but try reducing the individual helping to half or less than that.

  • Regularily refill her water bowl every 1 - 2 hours
  • Refill her bowl 20 - 30 seconds after you saw her drinking. This should be long enough that she doesn't vomit, but short enough to reduce the feeling of scarcity
  • Don't make a fuss about refilling her bowl. The more you actively call her attention to the water bowl, the more you artificially increase the value of the water.

That should allow you to reduce the amount of water she can drink at a given time without risking her dehydrating.

Observe how much she drinks and vomits with this configuration and report it to your vet if the vomiting doesn't stop or the amount she drinks seems very high for her body size.

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  • My roommates' dogs will often over-drink after periods of activity, and then throw up as soon as they return to activity. I don't know enough about dogs to offer more than that her dogs are healthy and seen by a vet regularly, so it may not be a medical issue here (though always worth checking to be sure) – Allison C Jan 7 at 14:28
  • Hey @Elmy, thanks for the suggestion. I've been doing the bullet points for the past 5 days and it is helping. I've kept the water dish filled but very low. So far I've only had her vomit once during play-time but it was quite a bit less. I never even thought of the food swelling. – C. Lange Jan 10 at 15:05
  • @C.Lange Glad I could help. She might be just a little naive and inexperienced, but given a little time she'll learn to regulate herself – Elmy Jan 10 at 18:40
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You should not limit the access to water at all. It is common that if a dog drinks lots of water and then goes to play and run, she will surely throw up (imagine you eating and drinking a lot and right after going to run... how would you feel?). My recommendation is to let her drink and try to calm her right after by not playing and petting her instead. Also, and very important, go see a second vet. Drinking lots of water could mean there is something else to check (diabetes for example). Tip: control how many water you put into her water bowl so you can tell your vet exactly how much water she drinks per day. Hope it helps!

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  • Thanks for the suggestions @CeciliaRM. I put a 1/4 cup of water in her dish this morning (half a day? She is about 4 lb) and left it for her to have access to. Unfortunately, and as expected, she drank almost all of it and vomited. This was not during playtime. I don't want to take her water away, I just want her to slow down how much she drinks. I don't believe it is diabetes but it is a bad cycle at the moment (vomiting > needs water > drinks too much > vomits). – C. Lange Jan 6 at 15:09
  • I'll check about seeing another clinic. The two vets I spoke with at her past two booster check-ups said the same thing I had said above. – C. Lange Jan 6 at 15:12

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