Water intoxication is not common, but it’s a condition that can affect pets if they drink too much water.
“It definitely throws off the electrolyte balance as well as causes the pet’s blood pressure to tank,” said
Dr. Danielle Bell of the Animal Emergency Clinic of North Alabama.
Bell says water intoxication can happen to a dog while playing in the lake, in a pool, or drinking from a hose. It can even happen while the dog is in the water and doesn’t appear to be drinking any.
“The actual process of trying to pick up a stick – it’s definitely one of those things where they actually open their mouth and are taking in the water. And these guys are not aware – they are just so focused on the stick,” said Bell.
Symptoms for water intoxication include lethargy and nausea. Symptoms for heat exhaustion in dogs can be similar.
“Is the pet having difficulty breathing, or is the pet taking in too much water and lethargic and have nausea at that point – so very difficult to identify.”
When pets are in the water, she says to be aware and keep an eye on timing. “I would say in an hour’s timing, an excessive amount could be harmful to a small dog”, said Bell.
Breaks from outside activity can help, and she says remember to make sure they have something to drink.
If you believe your dog may be suffering from water intoxication, contact a vet immediately.
Bell says heat exhaustion in pets is something she treats 4-5 times each week.
“We see often where pets are found in the yard very lethargic, unresponsive, and they are brought in and their temps are often times 106 or greater, and that is very life threatening and concerning,” said Bell.
To prevent it, she says to make sure there is water left outside for pets and to make sure there is a shaded area for the animal. She also recommends leaving water in a place that cannot be easily knocked over by the pet.