Can Dogs Get Sick From Drinking Too Much Water?

Estimated Reading Time 3 minutes
Can Dogs Get Sick From Drinking Too Much Water?

It’s so much fun to watch our dogs have a great time playing in the water, whether swimming in the pool, or frolicking in the ocean, or running through the lawn sprinkler. We know how important proper hydration is for both canines and humans, especially when exercising, but is there such a thing as too much water? The answer is yes and consequences can be severe. Read on to learn more about water intoxication in dogs, including symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

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What happens if my dog drinks too much water from the pool?

Water intoxication is a possibility no matter what type of water is consumed. Dogs may be affected if they ingest fresh, chlorinated, or saltwater. Depending on the type and volume of water ingested, the internal toxic process may differ, but outward signs exhibited are often similar. Carrying saltwater-soaked toys or drinking from a hose or lawn sprinkler can also lead to overconsumption of water.

Sodium (salt) is an important electrolyte in the body. Electrolytes help maintain the function of muscle and nerve cells. If electrolyte levels are too low or too high, cell and organ functions will be affected, which could lead to life-threatening conditions.

When there is too much salt in a dog's body, the cells release their water to try to maintain the proper sodium-water balance that is necessary for the body to function properly. When this balance is upset, serious side effects can ensue, including severe dehydration.

When a pet drinks too much freshwater, the opposite effect will take place. When a dog drinks too much freshwater, the body will attempt to maintain the necessary sodium-water balance and actually drive body salt content to dangerously low levels.

In addition to altering electrolyte levels, ingestion of chlorinated water can irritate the GI tract, leading to ulceration of the lining of the esophagus. This is painful and may potentially lead to blood loss.

My dog loves to play in the water. Is he at risk?

Any dog that spends time in or around the water, whether salt, chlorine, or fresh, is at risk for water intoxication. Although this condition is more common when the weather is warm, water intoxication can occur at any time of year.

How will I know if my dog has water intoxication?

The following are possible signs or consequences of water intoxication in dogs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Acting off/changes in behavior
  • Disorientation
  • Stumbling/difficulty walking
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Kidney damage
  • Brain damage
  • Death

What will the vet do if my dog drank too much pool or ocean water?

If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any unusual behavior or any of the signs listed above, see your vet immediately. He or she may run blood work to assess electrolyte levels and determine how to best treat your pet. Hospitalization for supportive care, such as IV fluids and electrolyte correction, may be necessary depending on the severity of the signs.

Preventing Water Intoxication in Dogs

Monitor your pup closely, especially if you know he or she is enthusiastic about water. Avoid leaving dogs unattended around bodies of water (lakes, creeks, the ocean) and pools, as well as hoses or sprinklers.

Read more:

Blue-Green Algae Poisoning in Dogs

What’s wrong with my dog’s tail? Facts About Limber Tail Syndrome

The Power of Water! Hydrotherapy for Pets

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Published: 8/2/2021
Last updated: 8/5/2021

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