Dog dies from saltwater poisoning: What is it and how can it be prevented?

Signs of saltwater poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and inappetance. Getty Images

Chris Taylor, a 29-year-old student at the University of South Florida, was having a great day at the beach with his water-loving black Labrador retriever, O.G., on July 9. They enjoyed the sunshine and played in the water for hours.

Little did he know it would be his last fun outing with his furry best friend.

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Shortly after Taylor and O.G. got home, the dog started vomiting and had diarrhea; the following day, he was able to eat some food and drink some water, but he was very lethargic. By July 11, O.G. wasn’t eating, he was non-responsive and walking around as if he was in a daze.

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Taylor rushed him to the vet, but by that point it was too late. O.G. was dying from saltwater poisoning.

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According to Pet Poison Helpline, salt poisoning in dogs and cats can result in vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated.

“He was convulsing, and I asked if he was in pain. [The vet] said, ‘I don’t even think he knows where he is,'” Taylor said to WFLA. “They told me, ‘there’s nothing we can do right now.’ I thought, this is my son. I don’t have children of my own.”

Sadly, O.G. passed away, but vets say this isn’t an isolated incident.

“Tourists and people come to the beach and they bring their dogs and they’ll go to the ocean and think it’s just a big bowl of freshwater,” Dr. Gerrie Barr with Vets Pets in Panama City Beach, Fla., said to WJHG. “It can happen in pigs. It can happen in cattle. It can happen in all the animals.”

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Typically, one of the first symptoms is vomiting, but it can rapidly escalate.

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“If they don’t have freshwater, the symptoms can get quite worse,” Barr said. “They can have anything from seizures to muscle cramps to disorientation. It can be a big problem.”

Experts recommend limiting your beach outings with your four-legged friend to two hours and ensuring they gets lots of freshwater every 30 minutes.

If your pet starts to exhibit signs of saltwater poisoning, immediately take them to the vet; treatment will likely include careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

Taylor wants to get the message of his experience with O.G. out there to help prevent this from happening to others. In the meantime, he remembers his seven-year-old Lab fondly.

“He always wanted to be doing what I was doing,” he said. “He’s my family. He’s just so goofy and [was] just always excited to see me when I came through the door.”

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