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The Dangers of Water Intoxication in Dogs

I recently read an article in “The Whole Dog Journal” June 2014 issue and after reading information on how dangerous water intoxication is in dogs I had the strong need to pass this information off onto my readers and clients.
In this article it mentioned how dangerous it is for a dog to fetch a toy out of a pool or when thrown in a lake. It mentioned 2 dogs one a Papillion who would swim to stay in condition for agility the other a Border Collie playing in a lake.

The Papillion only played in the pool 20 minutes and 30 minutes later the owner found her motionless on the couch. She died 6 hours later and nothing that the vet did could save her life, scary stuff.

The Border Collie played in the lake 45 minutes and due to swallowing large amounts of water during this time died to water intoxication.

What happens is the body takes in more water than it can handle. When this happens, sodium levels outside the cells are depleted, a condition called hyponatremia. In an effort to rebalance itself, the body responds to the low blood sodium by increasing fluid intake inside the cells. Some organs, such as the liver, have room to accommodate the size of their swelling cells, but others – in particular the brain, which is encased in unyielding bone – cannot.

Signs of W.I. include lethargy, bloating, vomiting. loss of coordination, restlessness, increased salivation, pale gums, dilated pupils and glazed eyes. As the pressure in the brain increases and its cells begin to die off, the dog may have difficulty breathing, develop seizures, and lose consciousness.

If your dog shows any of these signs of W.I. after playing in the water immediately take them to their veterinarian. Your vet can check your dog’s sodium levels which can be a telltale sign of water intoxication, but they can also be misinterpreted. It’s not only how low the sodium falls, but it’s how quickly it falls.

Ways to prevent W.I. when your dog is fetching an object out of the pool or lake. Choose a flat object rather than round objects to retrieve (no balls), know your dog and how they interact in the water and how they swim in the water, Discourage diving for toys, biting the water out of the hose, and take frequent breaks so the dogs body can rid itself of extra fluids by urinating. Throw the toy about 5 times than have your dog take a 20 minute break. Be careful your dog is not tired they may take on more water.

About Eileen Tonick

Angel Dogs, provides dog training, puppy training, dog agility training, dog obedience training and therapy dog training throughout the Phoenix, Arizona Metro Area.
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