May 18, 2024


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Water poisoning can be fatal. We will explain how to prevent overhydration when bathing your dog and what to do in case of an emergency.

For many dogs, there’s nothing better than having fun playing in and around water, especially on hot summer days. But the fun bath comes with life-threatening dangers. If your four-legged friend drinks too much water while playing, you run the risk of water poisoning.

What is water intoxication?

Water poisoning has nothing to do with toxic water. Rather, it can occur when an animal ingests too much water in a short period of time. This is why experts call it hyperhydration. Therefore, water intoxication is the opposite of dehydration. Find out here whether your dog should drink water from a lake or river while out for a walk.

Too much water in the body can disrupt your dog’s electrolyte balance. The sodium content within the cells then decreases and water is stored within the cells. As a result, the cells swell and expand.

Dog drinking water from lawn sprinkler on green meadow
Don’t let your dog play in a lawn sprinkler unsupervised. © IMAGO / DesignPix

Why is water intoxication dangerous?

This is especially dangerous in the head, as the cells expand due to water intoxication, making the hard skull unable to break. This is why fluid retention can rapidly increase intracranial pressure, which can lead to severe neurological damage.

It can also cause serious damage to organs, especially the lungs, liver, kidneys, and heart. Water intoxication can also weaken your pet’s immune system and make them more susceptible to illness.

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Symptoms of water poisoning in dogs

If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic, has trouble breathing, and starts producing a lot of saliva, you should go to the vet right away. Other symptoms include:

  • The animal suddenly becomes weak and shows signs of fatigue.
  • My stomach is bloated.
  • There are coordination issues.
  • Your dog is having trouble controlling urination or is vomiting.
  • He looks confused and confused.
  • He has shortness of breath and seizures.
  • In the final stage, the dog loses consciousness.

When is there a risk of water poisoning?

Water intoxication occurs much less frequently than in dogs that are dehydrated. In cases of such poisoning, the amount of water consumed should be very large.

  • For water intoxication, your dog should consume approximately one-third of its body weight in water. If a dog weighs 9 kg, he needs 3 liters of water to cause the above symptoms.
  • Small dogs and puppies are especially at risk. Small dogs and puppies have less weight, so water gets into their body cells more quickly.
  • Dogs with low body fat are also at risk because body fat absorbs water. However, highly trained, slim animals do not have this additional buffer.

Your dog will not consciously ingest the amount of water needed for intoxication through the drinking bowl. However, it is dangerous for you and your dog to be in or playing in the water for long periods of time. That is, if your four-legged friend runs around the garden with a lawn sprinkler or runs around the garden with you and a garden hose. Even when playing with a ball underwater, dogs can absorb large amounts of water in a short period of time.

How to avoid water poisoning in dogs

Therefore, when your dog plays or enters water in the summer, be careful not to drink too much water. We recommend that you pay attention to the following tips:

  • Track time: Don’t let your dog play in the water for long periods of time. Notice how he behaves underwater. Provide regular breaks to allow the animal to excrete excess water through urine.
  • Observe the animal at all times. Pay attention to whether your dog is ingesting water while playing. Don’t let your dog play alone in lawn sprinklers or dog pools.
  • Pay attention to the shape of the toy. When playing snap games underwater, it is better to use a flat Frisbee rather than a large ball. In order to grab the ball, the dog has to open its mouth quite wide. This means drinking more water. Also, don’t let your dog dive for toys.

If you suspect your dog has water intoxication, seek veterinary attention immediately. The sooner an animal is treated, the better its chance of survival.



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