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Saltwater Toxicity

Saltwater Toxicity

Learn how to keep your pooch safe at the beach

If your dogs are anything like ours, they probably know that the smell of sunblock equals a trip to the beach!  What they don’t know, however, is that drinking that salty surf can be hazardous to their health.  Even small amounts of seawater can cause a condition called hypernatremia, also known as saltwater toxicity.  Clinical signs of mild hypernatremia are often limited to vomiting and diarrhea.  However if your pet ingests larger amounts of seawater, these signs can progress to lethargy, inappetance, stumbling, kidney damage, seizures, neurological damage, and even death.  Hypernatremia can only be reversed with aggressive IV fluid therapy.  If you suspect your dog may have ingested saltwater, call your veterinarian immediately.

Since dogs overheat far more quickly than their human companions, they feel the need to re-hydrate much sooner than we do.  This leads them to attempt to quench their thirst by drinking from the ocean.  The saltwater only increases the sensation of thirst, which compels them to drink even more.  If you plan on taking your dog to the beach, be certain to offer fresh cold water every 15 minutes.  Pick a beach with shady spots, or bring a beach umbrella and encourage frequent breaks from the heat.  While saltwater toxicity is treatable, prevention is always the best medicine.

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