Summer Safety: Saltwater A Lethal Threat To Dogs

If you have a dog, you have been blessed to be loved unconditionally. Our dogs are truly our best friends, fun, affectionate, and loyal.

Therefore, it is our duty, privilege, and honor, to ensure their health and wellbeing, even if this means that we have to deprive them of some pleasures in life. Apparently, this involves the amazing ocean dips in the summer heat, as spending too much time in the salty water might be lethal to dogs.

Back in July 2017, Christopher Taylor, who was studying at the University of South Florida at the time, took his Labrador retriever, O.G to Honeymoon Island Beach in Central Florida.

They had a very strong bond, as the dog has been his companion for over six years. The dog enjoyed the time at the beach, but he spent a lot of time in the water.

Christopher explained:

“He was like any other Lab. He loved to play in the water, loved people, and was a big old goofball. We were swimming and having a good time. We took breaks, and I made him drink fresh water, but we just stayed out too long.”

In the past, his dog suffered from diarrhea and vomiting after spending too much time in the water, but these symptoms would disappear within a few days.

This time, the condition of O.G. aggravated over time, he lost his appetite and became exhausted, moody, and lethargic.

Christopher said that he wandered around the apartment, stared at the wall, and when he would call his name. the dog would not even acknowledge him.

Unfortunately, Christopher discovered the reason for this when it was too late. He took his dog to the vet, but there, O.G suffered a seizure due to swelling in his brain.

The young man explained:

“They put him on a standard IV and tried to get some electrolytes back in him, but he wasn’t really responding to that. The last-ditch effort was a drug called mannitol, which reduces swelling in the brain. But the vet said if he doesn’t respond well to the mannitol, there’s nothing we can do for him.”

His best friend died from salt water poisoning. The excessive intake of salt water can severely dehydrate the body of a human or a dog. This raises sodium levels in the blood, leading to hypernatremia.

To balance the high sodium concentrations, cells dump their water into the bloodstream, and can ‘shrivel up’, leading to severe dehydration on a cellular level.

In case brain cells are affected by this, one experiences a fatal seizure. Fatal cases of saltwater poisoning are rare. In most cases, dogs experience mild symptoms, and after the consumption of plenty of fresh water, they recover.

Yet, long periods in the ocean could cause irresistible damage, like in the case of O.G.

Dr. Heather Loenser of the American Animal Hospital Association, explains:

“The body works very hard to regulate the balance of salt and water. Dogs can also drive their body’s salt content too low if they drink too much fresh water when swimming in a lake or pool. If your dog’s behavior changes after swimming in either fresh or salt water, take him to the vet immediately for bloodwork.”

The signs and symptoms of saltwater poisoning include dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, appetite loss, lethargy, excessive urination, and seizure.

At the vet, the dog will receive intravenous fluids to flush out the salt buildup, as well as other medications to control seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting.

In ideal cases, the water and electrolyte balance will be restored over a period of 2-3 days. During this time, the dog typically remains hospitalized.

As you already know, each season is a new challenge when it comes to your dog. To prevent dehydration during the summer, bring the dog inside, or allow it to cool in a doggy pool.

When at the beach, do not allow the dog to stay in the ocean longer than a few minutes. Take a break away from the water every 15 minutes. Afterward, give him plenty of fresh water.

Help your dog during the warm season, and walk him at the coolest time of the day. The mornings are perfect, as the asphalt is not warm. The dog house should be well-ventilated and placed in an area shaded from the sun.

Make sure its fur is regularly groomed, but not too much, as it acts as an insulator. Also, scrub it down with a flea-repellent shampoo. Make sure you always have iced treats at home, so your best friend can enjoy the summer just like you do!