Water Intoxication

The summer is here! What better way to cool off than floating around in the pool or diving into the lake? This is also a great way for your dog to cool off, but we need to be aware of their limitations and how to be pet-safe around water.


Although many dogs enjoy taking a dip, some breeds have difficulty swimming and can easily become exhausted while in the water.

Secondly, even for dogs that are strong swimmers there is the danger of water toxicity.

Water intoxication is the ingestion of too much water. This causes the body to lose too much sodium, which the cells then replace with fluid. This happens predominately when we play with our dogs in water. Every year we unfortunately have at least one case of this, with it being far more common in cottage country areas. Unfortunately, many times it is fatal.

Symptoms may include:

  • loss of coordination
  • bloating
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • excessive salivation
  • difficulty breathing
  • glazed eyes
  • seizures
  • coma

So how do we prevent it?

  • Avoid playing fetch in water
  • Do not allow your dog to run and jump into water
  • Do not force your dog to swim
  • Do not let them play-bite the stream of water from a garden hose or sprinkler
  • Do not have them diving to the bottom for objects

Dogs that tend to splash, hold their head low in the water and have their mouth open — even slightly — are at greater risk for water intoxication.


Of course, you can still allow your dog to wander into a stream or cool off in your pool. Just offer frequent swimming breaks, make sure they have an easy way to enter and exit, and let them cool off at their own pace.

Be aware that adults and children can suffer from this condition as well.

Wishing you and your pets a happy and safe summer 🙂

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