Friday, June 28, 2013

Water Toxicity or Hyponatremia in Dogs = Water playtime can be deadly!

We have all done it... we take our dogs to the dog park that has a lake.. or we take them to a lake or a river or a swimming pool.. throw a ball or stick or whatever and let our dogs just go crazy jumping in after that object.

What happens when they jump in for that?  They open their mouths.. when they do that, insane amounts of water are ingested by the dog.. through their nose, theirs mouths, and sometimes down into their lungs.

Too much of this can cause water Hyponatremia or Water Toxicity in dogs. This can be fatal.

I just heard about this and I was so freaked out about this that I thought I would write about it so everyone knows what this is about and what to watch out for and how to prevent it.  I personally have a Yellow Lab who loves to swim and catch balls thrown into the water but I certainly don't want him to get hurt by it.

So let's start...

What is Hyponatremia or Water Toxicity?
Hyponatremia is the clinical term given to a condition in which a dog is suffering from low concentrations of serum sodium in the blood. As a component of the extracellular fluid (fluids outside of the cells), sodium is the most abundant positive charged atom in the body. For this reason, a condition of hyponatremia usually reflects a concurrent condition of hyposmolality, an underconcentration of osmotic solution in the blood serum; that is, a lack in the ability of body fluids to pass through the cellular membranes (osmosis), by which the body's chemical concentrations are kept in balance. Hyposmolality is typically associated with a decreased amount of sodium content throughout the body.

Theoretically, hyponatremia can be caused by either water retention or solute loss (loss of a dissolvable body substance -- in this case, salt/sodium is the solute). Most solute loss occurs in iso-osmotic solutions (e.g., vomit and diarrhea), and as a result, water retention in relation to solute is the underlying cause in almost all patients that are diagnosed with hyponatremia. In general, hyponatremia occurs only when there is a defect in the kidney's ability to excrete water.

What are the causes?
When water enters the body faster than it can be removed, bodily fluids are then diluted and a potentially dangerous shift in the electrolyte balance occurs. This shift causes cells to swell as a result of the changes in internal pressure, which can affect systems such as the central nervous system and the brain.

What are the symptoms?
Ataxia (staggering, falling over)
Weakness, lethargy
Pale gums
Excessive salivation
Dilated pupils, glazed eyed
Seizures, convulsions

How can we treat it?
Primary treatment will depend on the severity of the hyponatremia, and the associated neurological symptoms. The severity of any underlying disorders will guide treatment priorities as well. Treatment generally consists of addressing the underlying cause, and increasing the serum sodium concentration if necessary.

Overly rapid normalization of the hyponatremia can have potentially severe neurological results, and may be more detrimental than the hyponatremia itself. Therefore, an isotonic saline is the fluid of choice in the large majority of cases. More aggressive correction of the serum sodium concentration with hypertonic saline is rarely necessary. Hypervolemic patients (patients with too much fluid in the blood) are typically managed with diuretics (fluid reducers) and salt restriction.

Conversely, hypovolemic patients (patients with too little fluid in the blood) are managed by replacing the volume deficit with isotonic saline. Other therapeutic interventions are dictated by the underlying cause of the hyponatremia.

How can we prevent it?
When you play with your dog in the water..make sure you watch how much water your dog may be ingesting in constant play in the water... give your a dog break between playtime.. he needs time for his body to process any water he may have ingested.  If you suspect your dog is experiencing water toxicity, you must contact your veterinarian immediately!  Putting off treatment could be a matter of life and death for your dog!

I know it is summer and it is all about the fun.. but you are the pet parent and you must make sure that your pets are playing safely !


  1. Thanks for sharing nice information about dog water..

  2. If you're dog has ANY one of the following symptoms:
    -pale gums
    -drooling excessively
    -lethargy and lack of coordination

    Time is critical in this situation, I unfortunately lost a 4 year old cockapoo to water intoxication this past weekend. She was biting at the water in lake michigan for an hour and an hour later she was already dead. There is no time for blood work at the vet, explain your situation and that your dog has water intoxication action needs to be taken immediately in order to avoid brain damage, heart failure, coma and death. Keep an eye on your pup and keep them safe this is a more critical situation than one would expect, take action immediately if you have doubt better to be on the safe side. Best wishes for all.

  3. My husband and I recently lost our dog due to water intoxication and while I was researching more about it, I came across your blog post.
    I thought I would share our story so others understand the seriousness of water intoxication.
    For the last four years my husband, myself and two dogs have attended dog day at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL. Every year our dog Nellie(rat terrier) has played in the fountains and was not only entertaining himself, but others who spent minutes being entertained by his love for the fountain. It was his favorite thing to do and when we left the area he would protest by sitting down once we walked away.
    This years dog day, did not have such a happy ending for my family. Like usual, we walked through the vendor tents and then made our way to the fountains. Needless to say Nellie could not get their fast enough and was in his happy place when we approached. We spent some time(nothing out of the norm) at the fountain and walked around for a bit ending our dog day time at one last round at the fountains where he played with our friends daughter.
    When we got into to the car, Nellie seemed a bit off. At first we thought he just exhausted, but quickly realized it was much more serious than that. While he was with us physically, mentally he was not. He was not responding to us and was not in control of his body. I decided to call our vet to make them aware of this situation and bring him, but 25 minutes later we lost Nellie on the ride home. From playing in the fountain to death in 45 minutes, our best friend was gone.
    After some extensive reading we found that Nellie suffered from water intoxication. This was something we were not aware of before this weekend and wish we would have known about it prior. Unfortunately, Nellie’s signs came all at once. He literally went from walking to the car, to laying on my lap unresponsive in a matter of minutes.
    As I continue to share Nellie’s story with friends and family, I am finding that no one is aware of water intoxication. We are now making it our mission to educate people with our story. We may not have been able to save Nellie, but we can try to educate dog owners and potentially save a dogs life.
    Thank you for your blog post and sharing the risks. Maybe together our stories can help people understand the seriousness of this.

    1. Ohhh I' m so sorry about your Nellie..I too have a Rattie that loves water..They are such loving Dogs..such a loss!! I never knew about water toxicity!! Ty for sharing!!

    2. So sorry for your loss, but so very thankful that you're spreading this message!!

    3. Is there a difference between salt water and fresh water?

    4. Thank you so much for this important message. Who knew? Like Jennifer Ross, I also want to know about salt water. I remember my old dog having a huge case of the runs one time after a long ball chasing at our local ocean beach - ingesting large amounts of saline solution is also known as an internal enema - but never any other problems.

  4. I'm very sorry for the loss you occured while playing with your best friend. The info about this is absolutely needed for all dog owners. I have a Golden Retriever who I periodically take to my friends pond now I know what to do and the signs, again I'm so sorry for the friends we've come to adore and love which we call family. Sincerly a dog lover

  5. I'm very sorry for the loss you occured while playing with your best friend. The info about this is absolutely needed for all dog owners. I have a Golden Retriever who I periodically take to my friends pond now I know what to do and the signs, again I'm so sorry for the friends we've come to adore and love which we call family. Sincerly a dog lover

  6. This is usually not the case but it can happen. In this case I would suggest sub q fluids, ear drops for dogs

  7. Our dogs love the swimming pool and frequently will lap at the water. They also retrieve balls. I can hear a gargle sound when they're retrieving. I'm sure they are ingesting water. My question is - Since we have a salt water pool, will this avoid water toxicity??

    1. Gary it happens with fresh and salt water. Our dog survived and we were scared to let him swim after that,he did the gurgling while retrieving also. Found a baby toy that doesn't require him to have his mouth open. This was 4 yrs ago and no issues since.

  8. OK. BUT WHAT DO WE WATCH FOR?? I read the article and - As I understand it, by the time the dog exhibits symptoms IT'S TOO LATE??

    1. Exactly what I thought Gary! Maybe the answer is play for ten minutes rest for 15?

    2. You give your dog frequent breaks. Give them a little food, to stimulate their digestion. Make sure they are urinating. That is the biggest thing. They ingest more water than they can process.

  9. Is there a difference between salt water and fresh water?

    1. Both are dangerous if you dog ingest too much.

  10. Is there a difference between salt water and fresh water?

  11. Thank you so much for this information. I'll be sure to pass it on.

  12. I'd think it was more the content of the garbage in the ocean that did it but they're not telling... I went to the ocean here and there was garbage washed up on the beach... I went another time and there was some kind of slime that stuck to my body even after I showered... but the last time it was ok... It was just after a bad storm... and right before Hurricane Sandy flattened the boardwalk at Seaside Heights Seaside Heights, NJ
    Or it could actually have been one of those poisonous things in a shell that kills within seconds... There are a lot of dangers actually... but then again... driving a car is dangerous too

  13. I live in the Outer Banks of NC. We all take our dogs boating & spend all day in the water. I have shared this with all my friends. Now I cringe when I see videos of dogs biting at a wayer hose.

  14. I have a Nellie. And she's my baby.
    We went out on a canoe this weekend. I bought a life jacket for her and thought I would be safe.

    Nope she jumped over pat as a que of us were waiting for get back onto the jetty. Only problem was her head and shoulders went in the water and her back legs stayed on the canoe.

    Total panic. Her head was underwater she was splashing and kicking. I couldn't pull her 31kg out of the water. So I flipped her legs into the water. She was righted quickly by the life jacket. Only for her to be totally panicked and stuck between canoes. They pulled her onto the jetty by her jacket and she was running crazy. Wouldn't settle. Mayhem by my dog. !!!

    I then worried she could have this and kept a close eye on her. But she's fine ( thankfully).

  15. Please share this with everyone...I am. My dog had been jumping in the pool fetching her ball during a party I had. Shortly after she came down with all the symptoms. A vet/friend of mine told me to immediately take her to the emergency vet. When we got there, she collapsed and had seizure like symptoms in the lobby, a "neurological event" according to the staff. My friend had seen this article, called the clinic and let them know in advance what she thought it was and how to treat. After many hours they stabilized her. I am so eternally grateful! Just want people to be aware to avert this.Fortunately my fur baby is on the mend.

  16. this is a cool side thanks! for the great content .
    united service dog

  17. I've just decided to create a blog, which I have been wanting to do for a while. Thanks for this post, it's really useful! look at this web-site

  18. I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here.

  19. I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work andplease tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject?

  20. i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future.. hop over to this website