What to do if your dog drinks sea water

Taking your dog to the beach can be a fun and enriching experience for you and your pooch. However, going to the seaside comes with certain dangers for dogs.

Drinking sea water can result in harmful side effects, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, and in extreme cases it can lead to seizures and even death. 

Even though small amounts of salt water shouldn’t do your dog any harm, if they drink a significant amount, they could be in real trouble. Let’s look at salt poisoning and what to do if your dog drinks sea water. 

Why is sea water harmful to dogs?

Unsurprisingly, dogs and salt water don't mix. Sea water contains lots of salt, and if your dog drinks too much they can quickly become dehydrated. When a dog ingests excessive amounts of salt, their body will try and correct the imbalance.

Cells inside the body will release water to even out the high salt levels in their blood, which can result in your dog becoming dizzy, lethargic, and confused. 

When the levels of salt in the blood get too high, their muscles stiffen up as they lose moisture, which can result in shaking or tremors. Symptoms can become worse if your dog doesn’t have access to lots of fresh water, which can often be the case at the beach. 

What are the symptoms of saltwater poisoning in dogs? 

Even if you keep a watchful eye over your dog when you’re at the beach, it can sometimes be hard to tell if they've been drinking sea water. Some of the most notable signs include extreme thirst, excessive urination, and confused behaviour. The common symptoms of salt poisoning include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea 
  • Odd behaviour 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Death (in extreme cases)

If you have been at the beach and your dog seems to be behaving differently, such as walking strangely or looking disoriented, it could be a sign that they have ingested too much sea water. 

What to do if your dog drinks sea water

When you go to the seaside with your dog, it's always a good idea to bring a large bottle of water with you. If your dog has been drinking sea water, they might experience vomiting and diarrhoea. 

Offer your dog sips of fresh water every 30 minutes or so. Regularly drinking fresh water will help to rehydrate them and will replenish their bodily fluids.  

Most dogs will recover after drinking sea water, but you’ll need to monitor your dog to make sure that nothing changes. If your dog continues to show symptoms or you have any concerns about their wellbeing, speak to your vet. 

Need more info?

For more information on saltwater poisoning or any other aspect of your dog’s health and wellbeing, please give us a call.