Water intoxication and your dog

Did you know that it is actually possible for a dog to ingest too much water?

What happens when a dog ingests too much water?

When a dog takes in too much water, he has more than his body needs, and this dilutes bodily fluids and depletes sodium levels. Sodium maintains blood pressure and nerve and muscle function.


Many dogs are at risk; for instance those that swim low in the water or dogs that swallow water unintentionally while swimming, retrieving a ball, biting at the water, etc. It is rare and we see it maybe once a year or so.

Symptoms of water intoxication include staggering/loss of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. In severe cases, there can also be difficulty breathing, collapse, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and death.

Water intoxication can affect any size or breed of dog, but smaller dogs probably show symptoms more quickly because it takes less time for an excessive amount of water to build up in their bodies.

Water intoxication progresses quickly and can be life threatening, so if your pet has been playing in water and begins to exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, it’s crucial that you seek immediate veterinary care to save your dog’s life. If you see the above symptoms call your vet to discuss what to do, as there can be things to do even when you are far away from the vet, such as making them vomit up all the water and letting them drink Gatorade, for example. It's a simple remedy, but when there are no vets close by it is the best alternative and it can save a dog.

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