Pets: beware too much H2O

With warm weather returning, pet owners are bringing their dogs to local dog beaches.

And the folks at Kelowna's Fairfield Animal Hospital warn that water intoxication can be a real danger to your furry pals.

Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Watt says the animal hospital has already seen two cases so far this summer, and staff expect to see more.

"We saw them all summer last year," says Watt.

"Okanagan dogs have it made with all the beaches and parks to visit in the valley ... but water intoxication is something to keep in mind to avoid a life threatening condition that can occur with too much of a good thing."

Watt explains that water intoxication is a medical condition that happens when dogs ingest too much water. The body cannot process the increase in hydration, and this results in a shift in electrolytes and dangerously low sodium levels.

"A rapid change in sodium levels in the body can cause a fatal over-hydration of the brain," says Watt.

"There are cases of water intoxication every summer... These dogs have been playing in water all day, and begin to show signs of intoxication. They get weak and lethargic. They can get nauseous and begin to vomit."

Symptoms can progress to seizures and coma.

"These dogs come in very sick and require aggressive medical care."

The treatment includes IV fluids, electrolytes, and drugs to decrease the brain swelling.

With prompt and proper treatment some pets are able to recover – but not all.

Watt advises keeping dogs cool and giving them regular rest breaks when playing at the beach.

"Dogs often get caught up in the fun and don’t know when to stop. If they have played in water and are showing any signs of loss of co-ordination, take them to a veterinary hospital immediately for assessment," says Watt.

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