Saltwater: A Hidden Risk to Your Dog at the Beach

September 7, 2018




I think it is important to share this message to my coastal loving friends!  It was not an issue that I was attuned to and now that I have read this I feel better equipped to help my clients.  Please read this article, our dogs safety should always come first!


A trip to a dog beach in southern Florida turned into tragedy for a 7-year-old Labrador retriever, O.G., and his owner. The inseparable pair loved playing together at the beach, but after a July 2018 trip, O.G. began suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. The next day, his appetite had dwindled and he was becoming lethargic.


By the next day, O.G. had stopped eating and responding to his owner, then began to suffer from seizures. His owner rushed him to the vet, but it was too late to save O.G., who ended up dying from saltwater poisoning.


Sadly, the symptoms of salt poisoning may come on gradually, and owners may not equate a trip to the beach with anything dangerous, which means saltwater poisoning often goes unnoticed until the symptoms have progressed to a life-threatening level. Anytime your dog is around saltwater, keep an eye out to make sure he’s not ingesting too much, limit trips to two hours and be sure to take frequent breaks and give your pup lots of fresh water to drink in between.


O.G.’s owner, Christopher Taylor, told WebMD, “He was like any other Lab. He loved to play in the water, loved people, and was a big old goofball … We were swimming and having a good time. We took breaks, and I made him drink fresh water, but we just stayed out too long.”


What Are the Symptoms of Saltwater Poisoning in Dogs?


Salt was once recommended as a tool to help induce vomiting in dogs and cats, but this is no longer recommended because of the dire consequences that can occur if too much is ingested. Excess salt is poisonous to dogs (and cats) and can lead to the following symptoms:




Loss of appetite


Walking “drunk”

Abnormal fluid accumulation within the body

Excessive thirst or urination

Injury to the kidneys






If you catch the symptoms early enough, salt poisoning, also known as hypernatremia, may be treated with the administration of intravenous (IV) fluids, monitoring of electrolytes, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care. Even with treatment, salt poisoning has a mortality rate of greater than 50 percent, but offering your pet fresh water immediately may help (and may help to prevent salt poisoning entirely).

In fact, if your dog has ingested too much salt, he’ll likely experience increased thirst, which will prompt him to drink more water to compensate. As long as freshwater is available, the effects of s


Treatment involves IV electrolytes, diuretics and medications to reduce brain swelling. With aggressive veterinary care, some dogs do recover, but tragically many do not. As with saltwater poisoning, if you suspect your dog has consumed too much freshwater, seek emergency veterinary care.


Playtime at the ocean or lakefront can be great fun and exercise for your dog, but be sure to monitor him closely, take frequent breaks and bring a supply of drinking water for your pet. One of the best ways to prevent both saltwater poisoning and water intoxication is to limit how much time you spend at the beach, and cut the trip short if you observe your pup consuming too much water.


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