Most dogs love a trip to the beach. Running and playing in the sand is a lot of fun, but all of that exercise will increase your pets’ water requirements. Your dog will feel the urge to drink and if no fresh water is available, ocean water is your pets second (and in some cases first) choice.
Salt water has an osmotic effect. The increased salt concentration pulls water from the body’s cells into the intestines. This may cause diarrhea, vomiting and exacerbate dehydration. Remember, dehydration will predispose your pet to overheating (see previous blog on heat stroke). Ocean water also contains algae and micro-organisms which can result in gastrointestinal upset as well.
To prevent your dog from drinking salt water, it is extremely important to have cool fresh water readily available. Avoid the beach when it is very hot outside. Take breaks from exercising every 10-15 minutes. Encourage your dog to lay down in the shade during these breaks. Dehydration and heat stroke are life threatening conditions. If you feel that your pet is in danger, please see a veterinarian immediately.
-Dr. Phil DeFabio