As the weather warms here in southern California, more and more of my patients are enjoying playing at the dog beaches with their pet parents. As you know, we here at The Well Dog Place are all about exercise for dogs. Fetch at the beach is one of the best because dogs can exercise vigorously without overheating. We wish all dogs could get exercise daily. But there are some hidden dangers with beach play, especially fetch with tennis balls. This kind of play can cause salt water poisoning of your dog.
The repetitive fetching and retuning of the tennis balls or other absorbent fetch toys, actually results in your dog drinking a lot of salt water. The excess salt in the intestines pulls water from the body into the intestines causing beach diarrhea. Often the stool will contain mucous and blood. Fortunately, this is a mild self-correcting symptom once salt consumption stops or at maximum a few days.
But dogs that consume larger amounts of salt water experience and elevation of sodium in their blood called “hypernatremia”. Excessive sodium in the blood can cause vomiting, dehydration, incoordination, seizures. These dogs require veterinary care.
Here are some simple steps to avoid salt water poisoning so you can still enjoy every minute with your dog at the beach.