By Terri Nighswonger
No joke. Too much water can kill your pet.
If you have an active dog who likes to play fetch in the water or jump and bite at the outdoor water hose or sprinkler, you need to be aware of the problems of water toxicity.
Water intoxication in dogs is what happens when your dog drinks so much water that the water influx overloads what the internal organs can process. In severe cases, the body’s electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) are diluted.
Know the symptoms
The condition is called hyponatremia and is relatively rare, but it can be fatal. Seek emergency veterinary care if you dog shows any of these symptoms, particularly after a lot of water play:
- loss of balance or coordination
- dilated pupils
- glazed eyes
- light-colored gums
- breathing difficulties
Dogs that love to swim, retrieving floating toys, diving down under the water or swimming back up again gulp in water. Dogs that like to play with water — such as by attacking the garden hose, biting at waves, and similar play activities — are also at a higher risk for developing water intoxication.
All breeds are susceptible to water intoxication, however, the smaller the dog, the more rapidly water intoxication can take effect.
Can water intoxication in dogs be prevented?
I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that absolutely loves the water. He will go all day and then fall into an exhausted heap when we are done. The best way to prevent a problem is to take water play in short time increments and then take a break. We make sure he pees every time we stop playing.