Nothing beats a trip to the beach with your water loving best buddy. But did you know that Saltwater toxicity is a real threat to your dog and is more common than people realise.  We want you to keep having beach fun so be informed and stay safe.

What is Salt Water Toxicity?

Salt water toxicity (Hypernatraemia) can happen when your dog consumes too much salt water.  This can happen when playing in the ocean chasing balls or drinking the seawater.

What happens next?

When the salt reaches high levels, water will move from your dog’s cells to attempt to dilute the imbalance.  This can then cause severe dehydration, injury to the kidney’s and loss of brain cells.  If left untreated it can be fatal.

Signs to look out for:

Vomiting or diarrhoea after going to the beach can be clear signs.  As time passes your dog may be reluctant to drink or eat, they may show signs of swelling (from fluid accumulation) and they may have increased thirst or urination. 

Strange behaviour from your dog is also an indicator.  This is because increased sodium levels can cause your dog to become non-responsive, lethargic or confused.  Changes can occur even hours after you have been to the beach with increased severity as time passes.  You may see it escalate quickly or it could space out over a day or 2.

If you notice your dog’s changes or things feel off, time is of the essence, so it is best to call your vet immediately if you suspect toxicity.  Your vet may induce vomiting to remove some of the excess salt if caught early.  If not, your vet will then provide IV fluids and flush the excess salt from your dog’s body and monitor electrolytes.  Treatment may be provided for brain swelling, in order to help control seizures. Your dog will also receive continued supportive care to recover back to a healthy state and if lucky will make a full recovery.

How to prevent this happening?

Stopping ingestion of saltwater is key.  Ways to help this include ensuring your dog is hydrated leading up to the trip (this will reduce thirst) and have fresh water available to drink while at the beach.  You may not be there long but it is thirsty work running around in the surf and sand, so it is worth offering water every 15 minutes.

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