3 things you need to know about canine water intoxication

How does too much water affect a dog’s body?

Through their research the McCuskers learned that water intoxication results in hyponatremia, a condition where body fluids become diluted and very low sodium levels shift the dog’s electrolyte balance. With depleted sodium, the cells, including those in the brain, swell, affecting blood pressure and nerve and muscle function.

A dog may have difficulty walking, experience loss of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and, like Maggie, lose consciousness and suffer seizures.

Which dogs are at risk?

Dogs with lots of energy, who love playing in water and will stay all day if allowed, are most at risk, as are small dogs and those with little body fat to

absorb extra fluid. Some dogs compulsively lap at water while diving for a ball or other items, and the repetitive opening of a dog’s mouth just to grab a toy or ball also can cause water to be swallowed unintentionally. Dogs that bite at water from a sprinkler or hose also are at risk, along with dogs that drink compulsively, according to several internet websites, like that of veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker.

For dogs who like the seashore, salt water poisoning also can pose a serious threat to those who ingest too much water.

Preventing water intoxication

Four strategies the McCuskers recommend to avoid tragedy include limiting the dog’s playing time to about 20 minutes, monitoring the dog closely, providing rest periods that allow the dog to urinate, and offering flat, floating toys to retrieve rather than a ball or round object.


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