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As the weather gets warmer and our dogs play rivers or pools, they are in possible danger not of drowning but of ingesting too much water.

JoAnna Lou in tells of a Border Collie who was playing in a river  and emerged staggering and vomiting liquid. He took in too much water while repeatedly diving into the river, mouth open, trying to catch a ball. He was very fortunate to survive.

She says, ‘Drinking too much causes electrolyte levels to drop, thinning blood plasma and leading to swelling of the brain and other organs’.

Water intoxication progresses quickly and the dog has to be taken to the vet immediately. Symptoms include ‘lack of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Advanced symptoms include difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures’.

Dr. Becker talks of hyponatremia (excessively low sodium levels), a rare but frequently fatal condition in dogs and she says even a lawn sprinkler or hose can pose a hazard for pets that love to  “catch” water. The dogs most at risk of water intoxication are those who will play in water all day if you let them.

Water intoxication can affect any size or breed of dog, but it takes less time for an excessive amount of water to build up in the bodies of smaller dogs. I must now watch my Cocker Spaniel who seems frantic for water after exercise.

In this same article Dr. Becker discusses prevention and also warns of drinking sea water which can result in an result in hypernatremia, or salt poisoning, which is the opposite of hyponatremia. Initial signs of hypernatremia include vomiting and diarrhea, but the condition can quickly progress to neurologic symptoms like loss of coordination, seizures, progressive depression, and severe brain swelling.

And we have heard stories of people dying of drinking too much water also. Coco Ballantyne writes that in a hydration-obsessed culture, people too can and do drink themselves to death.

‘Liquid H2O is the sine qua non of life. Making up about 66 percent of the human body, water runs through the blood, inhabits the cells, and lurks in the spaces between. At every moment water escapes the body through sweat, urination, defecation or exhaled breath, among other routes. Replacing these lost stores is essential but rehydration can be overdone. There is such a thing as a fatal water overdose.

While exercise we should balance what we’re drinking with what we are sweating.

Here are two stories of dogs I have been to with drinking-related problems. Reggie drank excessively due to stress.  Murphy can’t have water left down because he is a compulsive drinker and simply won’t stop drinking. The vet had warned them what could happen.

For more stories of dogs I have visited and ways I have helped, please go to my main site:

By Theo Stewart