During the summer months, a big concern is placed on preventing dogs from overheating. I’ve been doing a lot of running with my pups lately, so I’ve been very careful about keeping them hydrated.
When I ran the race earlier this month, I made sure that we took plenty of water breaks. I even used a flavored canine sports drink to encourage Nemo to drink liquids. Having previously suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration myself, I’m careful to not let anything happen to my dogs.
So you can imagine my shock when I recently learned that excessive amounts of water can actually be deadly. When too much water is consumed in a short period of time (especially if the dog isn’t urinating or throwing up any of the water), the balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted, which can cause a disturbance in brain function. Water intoxication can lead to brain damage, heart failure, and death.
Fortunately water poisoning isn’t common, but it’s important to be aware of the danger. The most frequent cases involve swimming dogs that ingest too much water or exercising or playing dogs that drink too many fluids.
Symptoms include lethargy, nausea, a bloated appearance, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, lack of coordination, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Symptoms can progress quickly to difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Because water intoxication can progress so quickly, time is critical. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, get to a vet immediately to run blood work. A low level of electrolytes will confirm the condition. Treatment includes fluids, to put electrolytes back in the system, and sometimes a diuretic.