The recent death of a healthy 7-year-old Labrador Retriever has brought national attention to the dangers of saltwater poisoning in dogs.
On July 9th, the dog’s owner, Chris Taylor, took his pup for a swim at the local dog beach. Taylor states the dog had visited the beach many times before and loved swimming, playing fetch, and running near the water. Unfortunately, after this particular visit, the dog started experiencing stomach issues. The next day, the dog was much worse, with his mental state deteriorating rapidly. Taylor took his pet to the vet, who proceeded to give the dog an IV. Sadly, the dog did not survive, even though he received medical attention with 24 hours.
As a pet owner, you may be worried that the same situation could easily happen to you. After all, many dogs enjoy running on the beach and swimming in ocean water.
That’s why this guide was compiled: to help bring attention to the issue, as well as give pet owners more information on how to avoid saltwater poisoning, how to recognize its symptoms, and how to treat it quickly.
What is saltwater poisoning, and how can you avoid it?
Saltwater poisoning is deadly because saltwater can slowly dehydrate the body and its organs. At the least, saltwater poisoning can cause severe digestive problems; at the most, it can be deadly. In these severe cases, the salt affects the brain.
While humans can also drink too much saltwater, dogs are more likely to experience saltwater poisoning because they may not instinctively know that saltwater isn’t the same as fresh water. When your pet becomes thirsty, he or she may drink ocean water, though it’s actually dehydrating.
To avoid saltwater poisoning, you should avoid too much exposure to saltwater itself. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your beach excursions to a maximum of two hours with your pet. You should also keep fresh drinking water nearby and ensure your dog drinks every 30 minutes. It’s also important that your dog have a shady area nearby to rest and take breaks from exercise every half hour or so.
Symptoms of Saltwater Poisoning
The symptoms of saltwater poisoning are generally easy to spot, though they may seem mild at first.
The most common first symptom is vomiting. Your pet may also experience diarrhea. After these initial symptoms, he or she may become lethargic, walk as if they are intoxicated, experience swelling or fluid retention, seem excessively thirsty, and urinate excessively (or much less than usual). Tremors, seizures, and coma are even more concerning symptoms that happen progressively.
Treatment for Saltwater Poisoning
If your pet has been near saltwater recently and experiences any of these symptoms, take him or her to the vet ASAP. Immediate treatment is important for your pet’s health.
Your vet may administer fluids via IV along with other treatments for dehydration. They may also monitor your pet’s electrolyte count and check for brain swelling.
If you saw your pet ingest saltwater and are concerned about saltwater poisoning, give your dog plenty of freshwater immediately and keep a close eye on him or her for the early symptoms of saltwater poisoning (vomiting and diarrhea).
Though saltwater poisoning can be a scary possibility for dogs and their owners, you can avoid this condition by keeping an eye on your pet, limiting his or her exposure to saltwater, and being diligent about treatment if symptoms arise.