Water Intoxication

Water Intoxication

I confess that until recently, Id only ever heard rumours about Water Intoxication but of late, and especially due to the hot weather, this is something that has come to my attention a couple of times (once in a really good, straight forward blog by JoAnna Lou of TheBark.com) so I thought it worth chatting about, just to make sure we all know what it is, how to recognise it and what to do should it occur.

We tend to assume that the safest place for our dogs to be in such hot and sunny weather would be playing safely in a river or pond (obviously, provided that your furry friend is a confident swimmer) or perhaps cavorting about on the lawn with the sprinkler on.  Its great fun, cooling and very enjoyable but since looking into Water Intoxication in a little more depth,  I would always advocate that they take regular breaks from the water.

The most recent story that came from JoAnna’s blog involved a lady who was out with her pack.  They were diving in, swimming, having fun and retrieving a ball from a local river when one of her dogs emerged staggering and vomiting liquid.

She wasted no time at all in taking her dog to the vet but the symptoms quickly worsened on the way.  The poor dog spent a few harrowing days as an In-Patient at the vet’s office but, fortunately, he made a full recovery.

When diving in to the water again and again with his mouth open to try to catch and retrieve the ball, it seems that the dog had inadvertantly drunk too much water.  This massive amount of fluid caused his electrolyte levels to drop (electrolytes such as Potassium, Sodium, Chloride and Bicarbonate are substances that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are present in the human body, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is essential for normal function of our cells and organs).

When the electrolyte levels drop, the blood plasma is thinned and this leads to swelling of the brain and other organs.

So please remember, water intoxication progresses quickly.

The symptoms to look out for are:-

Lack of co-ordination
Dilated Pupils
Glazed Eyes
Light Gum Color
Excessive salivation

Advanced symptoms include:-

Difficulty Breathing
Loss of Consciousness

Don’t forget – Playing in and out of a sprinkler and drinking copious amounts of water from it can also cause a problem if they go at it a bit too strongly!  Water intoxication can affect humans as well as our furry companions, so please make sure your kids stay safe too!




  1. Reply

    Hi Kerry

    Just wondered if you might be interested in sharing some f your hot weather / summer tips on Agilitynet (the web site) with credits and a link back to you. We would have to do it quickly as who knows how long the good weather will continue!

    • Reply

      Yes with pleasure. How do you want me to share them? Do you want me to send you the links and a brief bit about what each one is regarding and you can put them on as you see fit? If so, I’ll email the. Over to you tomorrow Ellen

    • Reply

      Hi Ellen,

      Thank you for getting in touch with regards to the canine tips of the day that may be useful for your agility members. As promised I have emailed you but here are the ones that I think will be most useful

      Heatstroke / Hyperthermic Collapse : https://rhodes2safety.com/?p=700

      Water Intoxication: https://rhodes2safety.com/?p=1276

      Iced Water: https://rhodes2safety.com/?p=1255

      Sun Burn: https://rhodes2safety.com/?p=1997

      Please feel free to post any or all of the blogs as you see fit and if you could credit them to Rhodes 2 Safety when they are posted, that would be great 😉

      Best wishes


  2. Reply

    Hi Kerry,

    Just wondered if this applies to the sea as well as fresh water? Jess spends her life in the water but mainly at the beach and I’m sure she doesn’t drink it…..possibly a stupid question but had to ask

    • Reply

      Hi Liz,

      Yes, it absolutely would apply to sea water too if she were guzzling lots of it but Id be surprised if she was ingesting very much at all with it being salty so probably not even a consideration. xx

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