If you're planning on bringing Fido along to the beach, make sure you come prepared with lots of water for him to drink. While it might seem counterintuitive to bring extra H20 for your pup — he can just drink out of the ocean, right? — you may end up saving his life, or at the very least preventing him from getting saltwater poisoning.
A man in Florida named Chris Taylor recently shared his tragic story to raise awareness about saltwater poisoning in dogs. Taylor's black Labrador, O.G., died after accidentally ingesting too much saltwater while at the beach. As it is for humans, swallowing too much saltwater is dangerous for dogs. The salt content in ocean water is too concentrated to be processed by the human body, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Too much salt in the body can cause a person — or dog — to become dehydrated. When this happens to us, we can simply guzzle down a glass of water. Our precious pups need to do the same, but it's a lot harder for them to tell you that they're thirsty. Because they won't know that seawater is bad for them, they may just keep drinking from the ocean.
What does saltwater poisoning in dogs look like?
The signs of saltwater poisoning in dogs are diarrhea, fatigue, or vomiting, according to Melissa Webster, DVM. Taylor said he noticed that O.G. had diarrhea and was vomiting, but he chalked it up to O.G. being tired after an exciting beach day. O.G. looked normal after a few days, but then he stopped eating. By the time Taylor rushed his best friend to the animal hospital, the vets said O.G.'s brain was swelling and there was no way they could help him.
“Things can come on gradually and you’re not aware of how serious things are up front,” said Katy Meyer, DVM. Considering there were only a few days between O.G. drinking the saltwater and his death, it's imperative that you get your dog to the vet as soon as you see symptoms.
To prevent saltwater poisoning in dogs, Dr. Webster advises that you bring lots of fresh water for your pup. Some beaches have water fountains where you can fill up Fido's bowl, but you should throw in a few extra bottles of water for him when you're packing the cooler. Dr. Meyer recommends keeping your beach trips short — no more than two hours, just to be safe.
Dogs get hot in the summer too, and chances are they'd enjoy a dip in the ocean with you. Just make sure you keep an extra close eye on them and that you've got fresh water on hand. A lifetime of slobbery kisses is worth more than a few extra hours at the beach.