Can Dogs Drink Ocean Water?

Read this before your next trip to the beach 🏖️

When your dog is having the time of her life running and splashing in the ocean, it’s hard (if not near impossible) to keep her from drinking the salt water.

But is it actually OK for her to lap it up like the ocean is her own personal water bowl?

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with Doggie Designer, to find out if salt water is dangerous for dogs.

The truth about dogs drinking salt water

“While a few mouthfuls won’t hurt her, too much seawater can cause salt poisoning, which can be fatal,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo.

Salt poisoning occurs when dogs eat or drink anywhere from 1 to 4 grams, or less than 1 teaspoon, of salt per pound of body weight.

So that means a 60-pound dog would need to consume around 60 teaspoons of salt in order for poisoning to occur, and a 5-pound dog would need about 5 teaspoons of salt.

For context, the salinity of the ocean is 35 parts per thousand, so there are 35 grams of salt for every 1,000 milliliters of seawater. Since there are about 8 grams of salt in a single cup of seawater, it would take about 7 to 8 cups of seawater to make your 60-pound dog sick.

“Now, that may seem like a lot of salt water for a dog to drink, but considering the way that some dogs hit the water bowl after playing, drinking this much seawater might not be that unbelievable,” Dr. Bonk said.

Signs of salt poisoning in dogs

If a dog has had too much salt, the first sign is that she’ll be thirsty and want to drink more water. “This is because the salt in the digestive tract draws water from the blood and nearby cells in order to try to dilute out the high concentration,” Dr. Bonk said.

Other signs of salt poisoning in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration (indicated by panting, dry gums and weakness)

“If that dehydration gets too severe or isn’t corrected, it can be fatal,” Dr. Bonk said.

How to treat salt poisoning in dogs

If you suspect that your dog has had way too much seawater, Dr. Bonk recommends enlisting the help of a veterinarian to treat salt poisoning.

“The main treatment method is to reverse the dehydration, but gradually,” Dr. Bonk said. “The ideal time frame to rehydrate a dog with salt poisoning is two to three days. That’s because doing so too quickly can lead to swelling of the brain.”

A veterinarian will give a dehydrated dog IV fluids and electrolytes, treat seizures and provide any other supportive care that’s needed.

How to keep your dog from drinking too much salt water

In order to keep your dog from drinking too much ocean water, make sure she always has fresh water in front of her while at the beach.

Try a portable dog water bottle like this one from Amazon for $17.99

“Take frequent breaks from playing in the water, and offer them fresh water drinks,” Dr. Bonk suggested. “If you notice them drinking salt water, whether because they are thirsty or just playing, get them out of there and take a break.”

While a little bit of salt water won’t hurt your pup, it’s always important to make sure she has plenty of fresh water to keep her happy, hydrated and ready for tons of fun at the beach.

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