Water Intoxication

In the summer, dogs in the heat and dogs left in hot cars can be extremely dangerous. Naturally, people would like to bring their dogs to the water in hot weather, which is perfectly fine (I do the same thing with my dogs!). However, not many people know that dogs having access to too much water can be dangerous too. It can be, if you are not careful! 

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What is water intoxication?

This is when dogs ingest too much water, for example, playing for long periods in water or diving into water to fetch a ball for long periods of time. This can lead to electrolyte levels (sodium and chloride) to fall, causing the blood plasma to thin. This will eventually cause the brain and the organs to swell and can potentially lead to death. 

Water intoxication could lead to two conditions – hyponatremia and hypernatremia.

Hyponatremia is a condition where the sodium levels in the blood gets too low and this happens usually when the dogs ingest too much water.

Hypernatremia is a condition where the sodium levels in the blood gets too high and this happens when the dog ingests too much salty water. The amount of salt that could cause death in a dog is 0.07oz/lb.

What are the signs and symptoms?

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Some of the symptoms to watch out for are lack of coordination and energy, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils and glazed eyes, light gum colour, and excessive salivation. Some of the more serious symptoms are breathing difficulties, collapsing, loss of consciousness, seizures and potentially death.

Ways to prevent water intoxication

  • Monitor the amount of time your dog plays and is around water. Make sure it is not too long!

  • Never allow your dog to play around or in water unsupervised.

  • Have regular check-ups for your dog with your vet to check all the organs are working as they should, especially the kidneys.

The best way to deal with a dog with water intoxication

If you suspect your dog might have water intoxication, stop your dog going into the water immediately and call your vet right away and bring him/her to the vet clinic as soon as you can!