Summer is here
So is the increased risk of water intoxication
What is water intoxication?
When too much water is consumed in a short period of time. Drinking too much causes electrolyte levels to drop, thinning blood plasma and leading to swelling of the brain and other organs.
The biggest risk is playing in or around water without breaks. Many dogs ingest large amounts of water when swimming (from splashing, holding his head low in the water and his mouth open — even slightly), especially if they fetch toys from the water. Dogs who chase or bite at waves and dogs who like to “bite” water from a hose or sprinkler are also at risk, as are dogs who gorge large amounts of water after exercise.
If your dog is a fetcher, avoid tennis balls and round-shaped toss toys, opting instead for a flatter object, which allows him to better close his mouth around it. Don’t allow him to dive for objects and ditto for biting at the high-pressure stream from a hose.
Symptoms of water intoxication in dogs include lack of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum colour, and excessive salivation. Advanced symptoms include difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Because water intoxication in dogs can progress so quickly, time is critical. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, get to a vet immediately. A low level of electrolytes will confirm the condition.
Water intoxication is not widely mentioned in the published veterinary literature and can be misdiagnosed as hypothermia or overexertion.
Prevention is the best for water intoxication. Take frequent breaks out of the water, limit time playing with a hose or sprinkler, and offer water in small frequent amounts after exercise until your dog is rehydrated. There is no formula for exactly how often or how long to take breaks, because much depends on an individual dog’s play style.
Water intoxication can happen at any time of the year, but is more likely during the warmer months as dogs are more likely to interact with water. Stay safe, know the risks (and the limits) know when to take breaks, know when to get help.