Water Intoxication: Can Too Much Water Kill Your Dog?

How much water is too much for your dog?Higher temperatures this summer usually means more time is spent outside for pet owners, but this can also mean more trips to your veterinarian. During the summer months, we typically see an increase in the amount of injuries and illnesses overall. One of those illnesses that Doctor Yetter and his staff have encountered this summer is water intoxication.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

While it may be hard to believe, drinking too much water can be fatal to your dog. Ingesting too much water while playing in a pool or lawn sprinkler or retrieving toys from a river causes electrolyte levels to drop (hypoatremia) which thins blood plasma and leads to swelling of the brain and other internal organs. It’s important to know the symptoms of water intoxication so you can get the affected dog to a veterinarian ASAP.

Symptoms of water intoxication:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive salivation
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloating
  • Collapse
  • Vomit
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Glazed eyes
  • Coma
  • Light gum color
  • Death

Most at Risk

Dogs that are most at risk are ones who will stay in a lake or pool all day if you let them, pets that lap or bite at water from a hose or sprinkler continuously while playing, dogs that swallow water unintentionally while diving or retrieving a ball or other toy, and dogs that are allowed to over-hydrate during or after exercise. Also, dogs with little body fat are more at risk due to lack of fatty tissue that helps to absorb excess fluid.
Water intoxication can affect any size or breed of dog but small dogs show symptoms more quickly due to the smaller capacity to retain water. This affliction progresses quickly and can be life threatening so if your dog has been playing in or around water and shows any of the symptoms listed above, it’s imperative that you visit the closest veterinarian as soon as possible.

Prevention is Key

Prevention is the best course of action with water intoxication. Be sure to supervise your dog around water at all times, familiarize yourself with the symptoms, and monitor your dog’s appearance and behavior. Do not allow your dog to consume large amounts of water at one time after hard play or exercise; instead, give frequent, short water breaks.

posted in:  Pet Health  |  Pet Safety