The beach is a popular place for people to take their dogs this time of year. However, staff at VCA Palmetto Animal Hospital in Carolina Forest recently saw a severe case of salt intoxication or salt poisoning after a dog had been playing in the waves on the beach. Bishop said it wasn't obvious to the owners that something more significant was going on until the next day when the dog started having seizures.
Salt intoxication or salt poisoning will typically happen when dogs drink too much salt water. This causes the dog to become very dehydrated internally, which includes its brain tissue. "It's basically consuming a sufficient amount of salt to cause tissue damage when you rehydrate the tissue," said Dr. Laurel Berger Bishop, who is a medical director at the animal hospital.
Dr. Berger-Bishop says rehydrating the dog has to be done carefully, because if it happens to quickly, then the dehydrated internal brain tissue can become flooded with water and swell. This can cause brain damage.
Symptoms of salt intoxication or salt poisoning include increased thirst, diarrhea, lethargy, vomitting, tremors, and seizures. Dr. Berger-Bishop said the symptoms are similar to when your dog is overheated. She also has some advice to prevent this from happening to your dog the next time you're out at the beach,
"Make sure that they really have plenty of water to drink so they're not tempted into drinking the salt water. And, I would limit the amount of time theyre running in and out of the water, " said Dr. Berger-Bishop.
Dogs can also come down with salt intoxication or salt poisoning symptoms even if they don't drink salt water, according to Dr. Berger-Bishop.
If dogs have become dehydrated after running around in the heat and then consume a lot of water, the same type of internal tissue swelling can happen.