It’s fun to take your dog on a trip to the beach or the lake and toss a stick for them to fetch in the water. After all, this is what so many of us do in the spring and summer, and it’s a way to spend time with our dogs and have fun on a beautiful day.
But what many of us don’t know is that this can have a frightening downside. And while this particular downside is rare, it happens from time to time, and it’s something we should be aware of.
A Day in the Water Ends in Tragedy
The warm California summer day started out on the up and up for Jen Walsh and her family when they took the dogs to the lake to have some fun. They were there to celebrate a nephew’s birthday.
As always, Hanz, their two-year-old Schnauzer was anxious to play fetch, and Jen tossed a stick or a ball for him to chase into the water. The little dog was full of energy and raring to get in the water.
“He was very active, very excited, chasing the stick, and we were all having fun,” Walsh said.
But at one point, Hanz started acting strangely, Inside Edition reports. He paused in the water and began shivering. And he didn’t shake himself off when he got out of the water, which was also unusual.
“Dogs always shake themselves off when they’re wet,” she said.
Then he did something else that wasn’t typical for him, peeing on someone’s bag. Then he started acting lethargic, “like he was drunk,” and also acted as if he was cold. Now his breath was uneven, and his tongue was lolling.
By now the Walshes realized this was an emergency
“We needed to take him to the vet,” Walsh said. “At that point, he wasn’t even walking. We carried him.”
But when they got in the car, poor little Hanz stopped breathing, and Walsh’s husband attempted CPR. They arrived at the veterinarian’s office 45 minutes after the Schnauzer’s symptoms had begun and the little dog died.
Now everyone in the family had broken hearts, especially their eight-year-old daughter.
“It was awful,” Walsh added. “[My daughter] is very traumatized by all this.”
Veterinarians determined that Hanz had died from drinking too much water, and that resulted in hyponatremia, a condition that causes sodium levels in the bloodstream to plummet. That resulted in fatal brain damage.
“You hear about dogs that do swimming competitions and you never hear about that being a concern for them,” Jen told InsideEdition.com. “It can apparently happen to any dog.”
The Walshes adopted Hanz earlier in the summer from their neighbor who was no longer able to care for the little Schnauzer. This was the first time the family had brought Hanz to play in the water and hadn’t been concerned about it because their neighbors had a pond that he played in all the time.
“If we had known about water intoxication, maybe there would have been something more we could have done to save him,” Jen said.
Water intoxication tends to occur in dogs that are smaller, leaner, and have less body fat as well as in dogs who love the water and are highly energetic, veterinarians say. It’s a condition that can also affect young children.
If you’re planning on spending some time with your dog in the water you should be aware of what the symptoms are for hyponatremia, Natural Dog Health Remedies reports.
What are some symptoms of water intoxication?
- Loss of coordination, which may cause your dog to stumble, stagger, or fall down
- Pale gums
- Excessive drooling
- Dilated pupils
If a case is really serious, a dog may have breathing problems, develop seizures, and become unconscious.
If your dog has a mild case, just urinating should be enough to help them recover. But if it’s severe, as it was in poor little Hanz’s case, treatment is vitally important because of the brain damage that can result. Once a veterinarian has concluded that hyponatremia is the problem, intravenous electrolytes will be gradually given, along with diuretics to get rid of any excess water. Drugs will also be administered to reduce intracranial pressure resulting from brain swelling.
Tips To Prevent Water Intoxication
- Limit playtime in the water and make sure your dog takes frequent breaks.
- Keep an eye on your dog. If he likes to bite water from the hose or drinks a lot of water in the kiddie pool, remove him from the water and distract him if necessary.
- Use flat toys rather than round ones. After all, a dog has to open his mouth wider to hold onto a ball, and that, of course, means he may swallow more water.
If your dog shows any of the following symptoms after being in the water for an extended period — lethargy, glazed eyes, drooling, seizures, bloating, difficulty breathing, or vomiting — do not hesitate, get him to the vet immediately!
You can find out more about this tragic story in the video below.
Featured image by WeLoveAnimals via YouTube