Well it’s summer and the two-legged animals are out having fun with their four-legged family members. In various parts of the country this might mean cooling off by frolicking around the pool, the lake or even the ocean. If you have played ball with your dog around water, you might know how this game can go on forever…right? If you keep throwing they will keep diving in and retrieving?
Well there are certain dangers with our pets that while are not common, when they do occur it is often deadly. Hyponatremia is one of those conditions. You have probably never heard of it, but it is essentially water intoxication. We worry so much about keeping ourselves and our pets hydrated in the hot summer months, but this is when you take in TOO MUCH water. The body of an animal (dog, cat or human) can only process a certain amount of fluid. When there is more water going into the body than it can process the excessive fluid dilutes the other fluids in the body and this causes a dangerous imbalance. Sodium is important and when sodium concentration in extracellular fluid drops, the cells start filling with water as the body attempts to balance the sodium levels inside the cells with falling levels outside the cells. This influx of water causes the cells – including those in the brain – to swell.
If these activities are occurring at the beach ingesting too much salt water is also a very serious condition called hypernatremia, which is technically the opposite of hyponatremia and is salt poisoning. You will see the same quick deterioration and symptoms that dictate getting your pet to the emergency vet, but you need to make the vet aware that they were ingesting salt water.
Knowing how much your pup loves playing be very cautious of any change in behavior. This condition materializes very quickly and is so dangerous.
Watch for any of these signs:
-loss of coordination
-glassy looking eyes
By the time you see difficulty breathing, collapse or seizure your pet is in serious trouble. Get your pet to an emergency facility as soon as you see any signs and they can try treating this with (IV) electrolytes, diuretics, and medications to reduce brain swelling. With aggressive veterinary care, some dogs do recover, but tragically this condition often ends in death.
Prevention is key here. Just like children; our pets should absolutely be supervised around water. Be very aware of any activity that means your pet is opening their mouth when they are exposed to the water such as fetching a ball or even dogs that play and bite in the sprinklers. When dogs are jumping in water or water coming out of a sprinkler the water is pressurized and you may not realize the volume of water that they are ingesting. So, enjoy summer fun but if you are partaking in any of these activities limit the time spent exposing them to water without periods of rest in between. Their body has got to have time to process the water that is being ingested.