Did you know that it is actually possible for a dog to ingest too much water?

Water intoxication is a relatively rare but a frequently fatal condition in dogs.

What Happens When a Dog Ingests Too Much Water

When a dog takes in too much water, he has more than his body needs, and this dilutes bodily fluids and depletes sodium levels. Sodium maintains blood pressure and nerve and muscle function.  

Many dogs are at risk; such as those that swim quite low in the water. It may go unnoticed how much water he swallows while he is swimming. Dogs can swallow water unintentionally while swimming and retrieving a ball.


Symptoms of water intoxication include staggering/loss of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. In severe cases, there can also be difficulty breathing, collapse, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and death.

Water intoxication can affect any size or breed of dog, but smaller dogs probably show symptoms more quickly because it takes less time for an excessive amount of water to build up in their bodies.


Water intoxication progresses quickly and can be life threatening, so if your pet has been playing in water and begins to exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, it’s crucial that you seek immediate veterinary care to save your dog’s life. The treatment will include IV delivery of diuretics, and drugs to reduce brain swelling. Some dogs can recover, but many sadly will not.

Salt Water Toxicity

Swallowing salt water can result in ‘salt poisoning’.   Dogs that swim in the ocean are also at risk of swallowing too much water, particularly if there are waves or if he is retrieving a ball or toy.

Signs include vomiting and diarrhea, but the condition can quickly progress to neurologic symptoms like loss of coordination, seizures, progressive depression, and severe brain swelling.

It is potentially life threatening, and immediate veterinary care is needed.

If you take your dog to the beach, take along fresh drinking water and offer it to him frequently so he won’t be tempted to drink ocean water.

Preventing Water Intoxication is better than treating it !

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