We are all mindful of the need to keep our dogs cool during the hot weather. As well as walking them at cooler times of the day and not leaving them in cars – EVER – this includes keeping your furry best friend properly hydrated.
However, it is possible, as it is with humans, that a dog can take in too much water. Whilst this is rare, and less of a risk than heatstroke in dogs, it is useful to know the signs. Hyponatremia or water toxicity can occur when water enters the body far quicker than it is expelled. Studies have shown that it occurs when the body takes in around a third of its body weight in water – so for smaller dogs, this is much less than a larger breed.
For example, a 6kg Jack Russell would need to drink around 2 litres of water in a short space of time to be at risk, whereas a 30kg Labrador would need to drink 10 litres. The body is home to a delicate balance of minerals and electrolytes (salts). Too much water can affect the balance in the bodily fluids causing cells to swell and putting pressure on the brain as well as the central nervous system.
This is unlikely to happen from drinking alone, however, dogs that spend time in lakes, paddling pools, as well as drinking large amounts on a hot day can be at risk.
How can I prevent this?
- Limit the amount of time your dog spends playing in the water to 15 minutes and allow a break for them to get rid of some of the water they have ingested
- Keep physical exercise to a minimum in hot weather
- Limit the amount of time you play with a hosepipe with your dog
- Always monitor your dog when playing in or around water
What are the signs?
A dog suffering from water toxicity may display the following symptoms:
- Excessive salivation or drooling
- Weakness or lethargy
- Pale gums
- Dilated pupils
- Involuntary urination
“If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, DO NOT WATCH AND WAIT. Call your vet immediately.”
What to do?
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, DO NOT WATCH AND WAIT. Call your vet immediately. This condition escalates quickly and a small dog can die within 3-4 hours of water intoxication.
For a large dog, this could be around 7 hours. Your vet will need to intervene to introduce electrolytes to the dog and get the healthy balance back. They may also use an IV diuretic, a medication designed to increase urination and reduce the amount of water in the body. With timely treatment, your dog can recover so give it the best chance by visiting your vet.
This article was submitted by Dog First Aid Training. Dog First Aid Training offers half-day courses for dog owners and canine professionals across the UK. To find out more please contact us or visit our website.
Fore more information: www.dog-first-aid.com