Beware of Water Intoxication

Another scorcher of a day is forecasted and while we try to keep hydrated and to keep cool – be careful.

While we know that dehydration can be fatal to us, too much water intake can also be equally dangerous. We’ve recently heard a lot about water intoxication in dogs. Sadly, we had learnt about the passing of a friend’s dog after a day at the beach – the dog passed away due to water intoxication. ūüôĀ

Water intoxication is simply caused by ingesting a large volume of water. ¬† This can happen¬†when you’re playing in the water for too long. ¬†When your hooman throw balls or sticks in the water, and you jump in the pool, lake or the sea, you could intake a lot of water when doing so.

When there’s excess water, it can cause serious brain damage and even death in extreme cases. ¬†It doesn’t happen as often as dehydration, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Loss of coordination (your dog may stagger, stumble, or fall down)
  • Restlessness
  • Pale gums
  • Drooling excessively
  • Dilated pupils

Both George and I are not so keen on water. The furthest I would go is half-body. George wouldn’t even venture near water. ¬†But for those of you who love playing in water – just be careful. Don’t over do it.¬†

May’s comment: ¬†Trying to get my head around this, so did some research. And this is what I found out about water intoxication:

When there is too much water in the body fluids, sodium levels outside the body cells become significantly depleted (a condition known as “hyponatremia”).

In order to rebalance itself, the body increases fluid intake inside the cells. As a result, the cells are “swollen” with fluid, making them bigger in size.

As you know, the brain is encased inside the hard skull, if the brain cells are swollen with fluid, there is no room for the brain to expand, this causes an increase in the intracranial pressure and a lot of damage to the brain. 

If your dog has been diving, retrieving, and playing in the water for a while (around 20-30 minutes), there is a possibility that he may already have ingested too much water.

In more serious cases, the dog may have problem breathing, develop seizures, and lose consciousness.

Dogs with mild cases of water intoxication may stagger a bit when coming out of the water, and they can usually get over the problem by urinating. However, dogs showing more symptoms should be taken to the vet immediately since brain damage can occur very fast. Treatment includes careful and gradual administration of electrolytes intraveneously, using diuretics to help get rid of the excessive water in the dog, and using drugs (such as Mannitol) to reduce intracranial pressure due to brain swelling. Note that some vets may not be abe to diagnose this problem properly!

To learn more about Water Intoxication this is a good source Рhttp://Source: Natural Dog Health Remedies: Water Intoxication

Infographics from


Yes, you read me correctly Рsince water intoxication does not happen so frequently in dogs, some vets, based on the symptoms, may misdiagnose the problem as being head trauma, or hypothermia, or plain old over-exertion. Therefore, if your dog has been in the water for a while and, after getting out of the water, starts showing some of the symptoms mentioned above, rush your dog to the vet and suggest that it may be water intoxication.

Since water intoxication can kill (and even if it doesn’t, it can cause brain damage), preventing your dog from ingesting too much water is important.¬†Here are some suggestions:

  • Limit Play Time:¬†Limit your dog’s play time in the water. Take frequent breaks to allow your dog to pee in order to get rid of the extra water in the body.
  • Monitor Your Dog:¬†If your dog likes to bite water from a hose or sprinkler, or if your dog tends to lap up a lot of water in his kiddie pool, make sure that he is removed from the water source after a short while. Better yet, train your dog to play in the water without biting or ingesting the water!
  • Use a Flat Object:¬†If your dog loves to retrieve toys from water, use a flat type of toy or stick instead of a round toy like a ball, as the dog has to open his mouth wider to hold on to a round object than a flat one. Also, avoid having your dog dive under water to retrieve the toy.



1 Comment

  1. May Mei

    Have you also heard that during extreme heat, do not give ice cold water immediately? It cools down the body too quickly and the body compensates by raising the body temperature and causing the body to overheat.

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