Water Risks & Your Dog

Water Risks & Your Dog

Too much or too little? 

How to keep your dog safe

We all know it is vital to provide clean, fresh water at all times, but did you know that too much water can be dangerous for your dog?


Too little AND too much are dangerous!

One of the most important things you can do to keep your dog safe in the summer heat is to ensure they always have fresh, clean water available. Insufficient water is a risk year-round, but particularly on those hot summer days.

Essentially all of your dog’s bodily functions require water. If your dog is hot and panting and loses more water and electrolytes than they take in, they will become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to kidney failure, which can result in death in extreme cases.

In addition to always having fresh, clean water available, enforce “water breaks” when your dog is playing. Much like people, if your dog is having fun, they might not stop frequently enough to rest and rehydrate. If you’re seeing their tongue hanging out or rapid panting, it’s time to take a break!

But what about too much water?

Dogs who enjoy swimming, retrieving toys in the water, or even dogs who like to play with the water from the hose are at risk of overconsumption or water intoxication

What is water intoxication? Also known as water poisoning and hyperhydration, overconsumption of water can happen quickly and can be fatal. An overconsumption of water means your dog’s body has been overwhelmed with excessive water.

This influx of water depletes sodium levels outside the cells, known as “hyponatremia”. Your dog’s body will strive to rebalance by increasing fluid intake inside their cells. While some organs can accommodate this increased fluid by swelling, others (like the brain, firmly encased in bone) cannot.

Small and toy breed dogs are at a higher risk as their bodies need to work harder to remove excess water in their system. 

What are the Symptoms of Water Intoxication?

  • lethargy
  • bloating
  • vomiting
  • loss of coordination (including stumbling, falling, or staggering)
  • restlessness
  • drooling
  • pale gums
  • dilated pupils
  • glazed eyes (1)

As the pressure in the brain increases, dogs may develop seizures, struggle to breathe, or become comatose. 

If you suspect your dog has overconsumed water, this is a veterinary emergency. 

When your dog is playing in the water, take regular breaks, ensure they are peeing to rid their body of excess water, and stop the game if you think they’re taking in too much water.

Water and Your Dog

Water is essential. Never restrict water from your dog. Too often we hear owners restricting water with puppies to aid in housetraining. Puppies are at a higher risk of dehydration; never restrict their access to water!

If your dog is playing with the water from a hose or sprinkler or splashing around in a pool or river, enforce regular breaks to keep them safe. 

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-dogs-drink-much-water-dangers-water-intoxication/#:~:text=As%20important%20as%20it%20is,frightening%20symptoms%20and%20even%20death.
  2. https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2020/08/14/dehydration-in-dogs-causes-symptoms-treatment#:~:text=If%20your%20dog%20loses%20more,even%20death%20in%20extreme%20cases.
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