LOS ANGELES - It's almost summertime and that means you and your canine companion can head out to the beach to enjoy the sun, but be careful that your pet doesn't consume too much saltwater or they can become severely ill.
Last year in Florida, Chris Taylor lost his beloved friend O.G., a 6-year-old black lab, to saltwater poisoning.
Taylor said his pet accidentally swallowed too much saltwater at the beach. He said the signs were subtle at first: O.G. appeared tired, wobbly and had diarrhea.
The next day, O.G. seemed to feel better, but the following day his condition deteriorated. O.G. stopped eating and eventually stopped responding to his name, Taylor said.
Taylor rushed O.G. to the hospital, but the dog's brain began to swell and his body stopped responding to medicine. That's when Taylor had to euthanize his best friend.
When a dog drinks too much saltwater, the sodium content builds up in their body and causes cells to release water content in an effort to balance out the salt. This leads to further problems for your pet, such as swelling, lethargy and seizures.
So how can you determine if your pet had too much saltwater?
The common signs of saltwater poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, lack of appetite, lethargy, swelling and confusion. If left untreated, the dog's brain begins to swell, leading to seizures and eventually death.
Dog owners can try to prevent saltwater consumption by having pets drink plenty of fresh water before heading out to the beach.
Once you're there, make sure your pet drinks enough fresh water every 15 minutes or so, especially if it's hot out, because the sun can also dehydrate your pet.
When you're back from the beach, experts urge owners to pay attention to your dog's behavior. If you believe your pet had too much saltwater, you should call your vet as soon as possible.