Dog Training

How to protect your dog from water poisoning

Summer, sun, high temperatures: In this weather, playing at the lake, pond or river with your dog is especially fun. However, he swallows a lot of water when playing fetch in the cool water. Here lurks a danger that you should know! For this article, we got advice from the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic. 

First, let's look at what water intoxication is, what's happening in your dog's body, and what symptoms to look out for.

Magyar Agár in water
Table of contents

Tragic story

The death of Hanz, the two-year-old schnauzer from California, shocked dog lovers worldwide:

Jen Walsh spent time at the lake with her husband, daughter and dog, Hanz. For about an hour and a half, they had their dog fetch sticks and balls from the water. The little four-legged friend had fun playing fetch: He ran after it and carried the "prey" back again.

But suddenly the young male in the water began to tremble. He acted lethargicas if drunk. When he came out of the lake, he did not shake. Shortly after, he peed on a bag.

He breathed irregularly and its Tongue hung out. The family took him to the vet. Hanz could no longer walk at this point....

Just 45 minutes after the onset of symptoms, the young quadruped died on the way to the vet.

He suffered a Brain damage due to water poisoning.

Find out what you can do in a similar situation here! 

What exactly is water intoxication?

Large Münsterländer in the water

Veterinarians refer to "water intoxication" in technical terms as "hypotonic hyperhydration": 

Excessive water intake will literally flood your dog's body.

Drinking is healthy in itself. In hot weather, the need for fluids increases for both humans and animals. But too much water is dangerous for your pet.

How much water does my dog need?

Rule of thumb: Per kilo of body weight, your four-legged friend should take in about 50 - 100 milliliters of water. 

A few examples: If your pug weighs 6 kilograms, that's 300 - 600 milliliters. For a 50 kilogram Bernese mountain dog, up to 5 liters of liquid is considered unproblematic.

This is only a rough guideline. 

Gets your darling Dry food, it needs more liquid than a quadruped that is Wet food or BARF is supplied. 

Also the Outdoor temperature plays a role.

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How much water leads to water intoxication?

This depends on the Weight and from the Health status of your quadruped. 

Does your pelt nose take about a Third of their body weight of water, there is a risk of water intoxication. Smaller four-legged friends quickly reach this amount during exuberant romping and playing. 

A Labrador, Bernese Mountain Dog or St. Bernard are less at risk than a Pinscher, Yorkshire Terrier or Greyhound because of their body mass. 

If you have a small, lively, slender, trained and muscular four-legged friend who loves to play in the water, you should pay attention.

Caution is also advised if your furry friend suffers from a Kidney disease suffers.

Why do dogs drink too much water?

Your dog is like you in the summer: He longs for Cooling. Like most four-legged friends, he probably enjoys frolicking in the water. Maybe he likes to play with the water hose in the garden. Or he chases after the jets of water when the lawn sprinkler goes on.

And probably retrieving dummies and balls from lakes and ponds is a lot of fun for your furry nose - just like Schnauzer Hanz.

However, your four-legged friend swallows a lot of water in the process.

What happens in case of water poisoning?

Due to the increased water absorption, the Electrolyte balance out of equilibrium and it comes to a relative sodium deficiency in your dog's body. This in turn causes the water from the bloodstream to flow more into the cells.

Thereupon swell the cells an. However, the Brain expand in the skull of the dog only to a very small extent. At some point, the maximum is reached. Then immense pressure and high-grade irreparable damage occur.

Normally, your quadruped would simply urinate and carry the excess water out of the body. 

At low sodium levels, however, a kind of emergency program becomes active: the kidneys stop working.  

It also comes to Cardiac arrhythmias. Furthermore arise Pulmonary edema and neurological failures like cramps. 

Symptoms of water intoxication

Some symptoms show up early. Others do not set in until later. AttentionYou will not always recognize typical signs of water poisoning immediately after bathing. If you suspect that your pet has swallowed too much water, watch him closely.

First symptoms

In the case of water intoxication your quadruped suddenly seems to be floppy, exhausted and lethargic. He may be having trouble staying on his feet. He trembles and fluctuates. You may notice that his Abdomen unusually bloated acts. 

Other early onset symptoms include Vomiting, Salivating and Panting. Its Pupils may be dilated. It also shows no appetite.

Later onset symptoms

The symptoms quickly worsen: A dog with water poisoning loses control over his bodily functions

You recognize this Coordination difficulties. Maybe he staggers while walking. It comes to Twitch and Cramps. Or the Lower jaw of your quadruped hangs down.

It sets unintentionally and uncontrolled urine and feces from. 

In the final stage of water intoxication your dog is unresponsive: After a phase of apathy, he loses consciousness and dies.

Fast action is required here. Please do not lose time if water poisoning is suspected.

How to react correctly

Fast action can save your four-legged friend: 

Your dog needs to go to the vet or a veterinary clinic immediately.

  • Prevent your dog from running back into the water. He's not allowed to drink anymore.
  • Take him to the car as soon as possible and make yourself on the way to the vet. 
  • Feed him saltines and salty cookies on the way there. In this way, you can try to compensate for the sodium deficiency again... However, this is only successful if your quadruped is still able to eat.

What happens at the vet?

In order for your veterinarian to classify the symptoms, he needs information: 

  • Reports from your Suspicion
  • Narrate, how long your dog in the water has played. 
  • Also tell about your ObservationsHow did your dog behave? What alerted you?

A Blood test provides information about the electrolyte levels. Sometimes, however, quadrupeds die even though the electrolyte balance has been restored.

5 tips on how to avoid water poisoning

The best thing to do is to prevent water poisoning. You can do that with these five tips.

Tip 1: Inform family members and friends about the danger

Maybe you're spending a family vacation at the lake with your kids. Or you are with friends at the lake or with neighbors in the garden: Educate them about the danger of water poisoning. 

Tip 2: Watch out

Keep an eye on your darling and do not let him play with water unsupervised. This applies to a stay in your own garden with pool and garden hose as well as to walks along the river or a picnic by the lake.

Tip 3: Keep play sessions in the water short

Allow your four-legged friend to jump into the water. But pay attention to short play sessions. Once your furry friend has retrieved items from the water a few times, it's time for some fun on land. 

Tip 4: Use flat objects for retrieval

When your four-legged friend grabs a ball in the lake, paddling pool or river, he has to open his mouth wide. Accordingly, a lot of water gets into his stomach. Work with dummies or find a suitable stick outside. The flatter and smaller the object, the better. This lowers the water absorption. However, make sure that the object is not too small to avoid the risk of swallowing.

Tip 5: No diving after apportels

When diving for objects, your pet will also swallow a lot of water. It is best to avoid this. It is best to throw the retrieve in the dry.

Preparation for emergencies

Emergencies and accidents can happen at any time. That's why a first aid kit for your dog belongs in the car, in your backpack or in your pocket.

  • Save the phone number of your family veterinarian, the nearest veterinary clinic and of veterinarians at your vacation or current place of residence into your cell phone. In case of emergency, you don't have time to google for them.
  • Park your car so that you can reach it quickly. This is useful in case of water intoxication as well as in case of injuries caused by an accident or biting with a conspecific.
  • If you're planning a waterfront stay, pack salt sticks and salt cookies.

Recommendation from the vet

Water poisoning can be fatal. That's why you should keep your four-legged friend near the water. supervise. Make sure he doesn't swallow too much water. 

If you suspect your four-legged friend has water poisoning, drive immediately to the nearest veterinarian. 

For emergencies it is good to have Salt sticks and salty cookies on board. If your pelt-nose is still able to eat something, feed it on the way to the vet.

Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic
Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion and it is my personal concern to create medically accurate articles and videos to inform pet owners as much as possible.

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