Don’t Drink the (Salt) Water!

Dogs love playing outdoors, and nothing beats the beach! However, this new environment has a major factor that you should be aware of: the ocean.

While dogs love playing in the ocean, you have to watch them closely to make sure that they don’t drink salt water! Thankfully, the experts at Top Dog are here to help you and your dog have a great day at the beach!

Top Dog Training and Resort is the premier Chapel Hill pet resort. We are the best k9 boarding and training facility in the Triangle area, with fully licensed trainers, grooming, and a dog pick-up service near me.

Why Can’t Dogs Drink Salt Water?

Humans can’t drink salt water, so it’s no surprise that dogs can’t either. However, when dogs are playing and panting in the ocean, they can easily ingest salt water, either by accident or because they are getting thirsty from all the activity.

When dogs drink salt water, the salt sucks water out of the blood and redirects it to the intestines, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort and unnaturally high levels of sodium in the body.

A small amount of salt water can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. However, larger amounts lead to saltwater poisoning.

Dogs reach a toxic sodium level when they drink 2.2 teaspoons of salt per pound of their body weight, which is the approximate amount of salt in a cup of seawater. Therefore, smaller dogs can tolerate less salt water than larger dogs.

If dogs drink a lot of salt water, the symptoms go much further than an upset stomach. The influx of sodium in the blood creates a condition known as hypernatremia. Cells in your dog’s body will respond to hypernatremia by releasing water.

Cells releasing this much water can, in turn, lead to seizures, loss of brain cells, kidney issues, and severe dehydration–all serious conditions that require immediate medical treatment from a veterinarian to prevent long-term injury or even death.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Drinking Salt Water

Since salt water is so dangerous to dogs, should you avoid the beach entirely? No! Fortunately, canine saltwater poisoning is preventable. Follow these simple tips for a safe, fun beach trip:

  • Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and shade.
  • Take a break from the ocean every 15 minutes.
  • Avoid playing fetch in deeper water, where your dog can easily lunge after their favorite toy with their mouth open and accidentally ingest salt water.
  • Make sure that your dog has enough training to respond to simple commands like “come” and “no” so that you can stop them from drinking salt water.

What To Do If Your Dog Drinks Salt Water

If your dog drinks salt water, don’t panic. Remember, it takes a lot of salt water for your dog to reach toxic levels, especially if they are a larger breed, but you should still exercise caution.

If your dog has swallowed a small amount of salt water, call them out of the ocean immediately.

Have them sit in the shade with a bowl of fresh water while you monitor for signs of low-level saltwater poisoning (although symptoms make take a few hours to develop):

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Signs of more serious saltwater poisoning also include:

  • Constant urination
  • Muscle tremors and convulsions
  • Confusion and odd behavior
  • Excessive thirst
  • High heart rate
  • Poor coordination
  • Loss of appetite

If you think your dog has consumed a potentially toxic amount of salt water, head to a veterinarian immediately. Your vet will likely administer an IV to slowly lower sodium levels and restore equilibrium while monitoring electrolytes, brain swelling, and seizures.

Because lowering sodium levels too quickly can lead to further complications like cerebral edema, this process will probably take a few days and require hospitalization for your dog.

Top Dog: The Best Dog Boarding Near Me

Don’t want to bring your dog on vacation and risk saltwater poisoning? If you live in the Triangle area and are looking for dog boarding near me, look no further than Top Dog!

Our Chapel Hill pet resort offers a state of the art k9 boarding and training facility. Our dog boarders enjoy comfortable, sanitized bedding, with soothing music and 24-hour supervision from our founder and licensed trainer, Jennie Fuller, who lives on-site.

Our boarders also get to take advantage of Top Dog’s training programs and grooming so that they have an engaging, enriching stay!

If you don’t want to board your dog but still want to take advantage of training options like our day school, you don’t have to worry about pick up or drop off!

Top Dog offers a dog pick-up service near you to make sure that your dog makes it to our k9 boarding and training facility and back home safely.

Experience the best dog boarding near me and contact us today!

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