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Is there really anything better than spending a sunny day lounging at the beach or taking a relaxing walk along the shoreline? Not really—unless you get to bring your beloved dog along. Watching your pet dart up and down the sandy dunes, playing frisbee, or splashing around in the water as the waves roll in can make for some of the best memories.
But some dogs can’t seem to stay away from salt water and gulp it down before you can warn them off. Sound like your pet? Here is some information to keep your pal happy and healthy during your time at the ocean.
Why is my dog drinking salt water?
The first reason may be the most obvious: because she’s thirsty. You are most likely spending a warm, sunny day at the beach, and that means your dog needs lots of water to stay hydrated, just as you do. You know your own thirst, but it may be harder for you to recognize, and for your pet to tell you, how often she needs a drink as well. This can lead to your dog eagerly drinking from the ocean to quench her thirst.
Another reason may simply be that your dog loves playing with, and, by extension, drinking water. Water from the garden hose, water from the pool, and now water from the ocean, too. Many dogs can’t resist the attraction of water and are eager to lap it up in whatever form it takes when they get the chance.
What happens when dogs drink seawater?
Similar to when humans accidentally swallow some seawater while swimming or surfing in the ocean, saltwater consumption in small quantities is usually not harmful. However, according to the AKC, drinking larger amounts of salt water can lead to a disruption in the fluid balance in your dog’s body, and toxic amounts of salt can be fatal to your dog. This is also known as salt toxicity in dogs.
When should you be concerned about dogs drinking ocean water?
If your dog ingests small amounts of salty ocean water, it can result in what veterinarian Dr. Ken Tudor from PetMD dubs “beach diarrhea.” If you know your dog has been drinking any amount of saltwater at the beach, monitor him closely in the hours and days following. In addition to diarrhea, symptoms of saltwater poisoning to keep an eye out for in your dog are vomiting, seizures, muscle weakness, and tremors.
If your pet displays any of the symptoms outlined above, taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible means you have the greatest chance of restoring his electrolytes and water balance to normal levels.
What to do when your dog drinks saltwater at the dog beach
When your pet loves frolicking in the ocean while at the beach, it can be a challenge to restrict him from consuming any saltwater at all. A good strategy to prevent saltwater poisoning of your dog is taking frequent breaks away from the water (around every 15 minutes) and offering your dog fresh water to drink, says Dr. Tudor.
Frequent hydration is key to ensuring your dog isn’t tempted to drink seawater in the first place. If your dog does swallow some ocean water, drinking lots of fresh water will help their body rid itself of the extra salt in their system.
How to prevent your dog from drinking salt water
On your next trip to the beach, bring along a pet water bottle like the Gulpy Water Dispenser (pictured above on the left) that makes it easy to offer your dog some fresh water at the beach. Or you can pack a few extra cold bottles of your own water to offer him in a handy foldable travel bowl, like the Comsun Collapsible Dog Bowl (pictured above on the right).
Spending time at the beach with your dog is a great way to pass the time, and you don’t have to let your dog’s love of drinking ocean water get in the way of that. For your next outing, just remember these tips to keep your pet safe and having a great time at the beach:
- Monitor your dog’s time in and around the water.
- Take frequent breaks in the shade while playing.
- Offer your dog lots of fresh water to keep him hydrated during and after your visit.
- Keep an eye out for symptoms related to saltwater poisoning and see a vet immediately if any appear.