Dabl at Home
The Signs And Symptoms Of Water Intoxication In Dogs
Drinking too much water can result in a condition called hyponatremia, which can be fatal if not promptly treated by a vet. Here’s how you can recognize the symptoms and prevent it from happening in the first place.
Editor’s Note: In the event of an emergency, please contact your veterinarian or proceed to the nearest emergency vet immediately.
During the summer, both animal lovers and pet health experts always emphasize how important it is to make sure our dogs drink enough water to avoid dehydration and potentially fatal heat-related illnesses. But did you know that it’s also possible for dogs to drink too much water? Water intoxication, or hyponatremia as it’s formally known, is a rare but dangerous condition that occurs when your dog drinks too much water. Hyponatremia is the clinical term for what happens when your dog drinks so much water that the sodium levels in his blood become abnormally low. It’s dangerous because it can lead to brain damage and kidney failure.
Although water intoxication is not common, the recent death of a water-loving puppy is reminding pet parents that the danger of water intoxication is rare but real. In June of 2022, Inside Edition shared the story of an 18-month-old border collie named Winter, who gulped down too much water while playing in a kiddie pool. Eventually, her owner started noticing her dog was behaving strangely. She took Winter to the vet, where the pup went downhill quickly and sadly passed away.
The loss of Winter is a heartbreaking tragedy for his owner, but she is sharing her story in the hopes it will help other people recognize the signs and symptoms of water intoxication if it happens to their dogs. Water intoxication can happen quickly, causing your dog’s health to decline anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. But if you identify it early and get your dog to an animal hospital, veterinarians can usually reverse the condition.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, especially after your pup has been playing in the water, you need to head to your closest veterinary clinic as soon as possible:
-Loss of Coordination
As you may expect, the dogs who are most at risk for developing water intoxication are water lovers. These are dogs who love playing in the pool or local lakes, potentially diving and fetching toys in the water. Dogs who play games in the water, like fetching, may accidentally ingest large quantities of water as they retrieve their toys. It can even happen with hoses and sprinklers if dogs gulp down too much water while trying to catch the liquid as it sprays out. Because their bodies have to work extra hard to clear out the excess water, small dogs, toy dogs, and pups with certain medical conditions may also be at an increased risk for water intoxication.
Because of the fatality risk, water intoxication is pretty scary. But this article isn’t meant to scare you out of letting your pup enjoy the water this summer. The purpose is to help you be an informed pet parent so you can make sure your dog receives medical intervention on time if he becomes sick due to water intoxication. With immediate and aggressive veterinary care, usually consisting of IV delivery of electrolytes, diuretics, and drugs to reduce brain swelling, many dogs make a full recovery. But since some dogs do not, prevention is the best form of treatment.
As a pet parent, there are steps you can take to make sure your dog doesn’t succumb to water intoxication. If your dog is very active in the water, keep a close eye on him and make sure he takes frequent breaks between play sessions. Try to prevent him from flapping around too much or swimming with his mouth open if you can. Don’t give him access to sprinklers or hoses while they are on. Additionally, if your dog gulps down his entire water bowl after exercising or playing, make sure he is rested before you refill it. Lastly, we also recommend asking your vet for specific prevention suggestions that may be beneficial for your pup!
We hope knowing about water intoxication will help you and your dog have a safe and happy water-filled summer! While water intoxication is rather uncommon, you’ll know what to do to prevent your beach or pool day from ending in tragedy if your dog starts to show symptoms.