Water Intoxication In Dogs – The Trouble With Over Drinking

Water intoxication is a very common problem that affects many pets. It happens when they drink too much water or if they get into the situation where their body can’t absorb enough water due to over consumption of food or other liquids. Water intoxication can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures in some cases.

It’s not uncommon for owners to think that their pet is just dehydrated or hungry, but it could actually be something more serious. Some symptoms of water intoxication include:


Diarrhea (or loose stools)

Tremors (especially in the back legs) and/or trembling of the limbs (even if there are no signs of weakness)


Loss of consciousness

Death in extreme cases.

What Causes Water Intoxication?

The exact causes of water intoxication are unknown, but it is believed that the dehydration of the animal may be one factor. Other factors such as being overweight or underweight, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and stress can all contribute to water intoxication. There have been several studies done on this topic and most experts agree that excessive drinking of fluids will lead to water intoxication in animals.

Why Are Dogs More Prone To Water Intoxication?

Dogs are more prone to water intoxication than other animals because they have a habit of drinking lots of water and they will continue to drink until they have to urinate. The problem occurs when they are unable to urinate (they produce little or no urine) due to excessive intake of water.

What Are The Other Names For Water Intoxication?

The other names for water intoxication are dilutional hyponatremia (when sodium in the body is too low) and fluid poisoning (when there is too much water in the body).

How Is Water Intoxication Diagnosed?

The veterinarian will perform several tests and a urinalysis to see if your dog has water intoxication. Other tests will be run to see if there are other underlying diseases or conditions causing this.

What Are The Signs Of Water Intoxication?

As we mentioned above, the main signs of water intoxication are vomiting, diarrhea (or loose stools), tremors (especially in the back legs) and/or trembling of the limbs (even if there are no signs of weakness).

What Is The Treatment For Water Intoxication?

The treatment for water intoxication is to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will treat your dog and possibly hospitalize him or her until it is safe to go home. In most cases, the dog is dehydrated with few urinations and the kidneys may have suffered some damage due to the water intoxication.

How Can I Prevent Water Intoxication?

The best way to prevent water intoxication is to make sure that your pet doesn’t have access to any source of drinking water (especially from the toilet). You should also watch them when they are outside to see if they are trying to get into something that might cause them to over-drink.

In some cases dogs become addicted to the sensation that they get when drinking lots of water. If this is the case then you need to go to your veterinarian and have them prescribe something to take the place of the fluids (such as Propalin).

My Dog Has Been Diagnosed With Water Intoxication, Now What?

The treatment for water intoxication is discussed above. In some severe cases, the dog may have suffered brain damage or their kidneys may be severely damaged. It will be up to your veterinarian to advise you of the extent of the damage and whether they think the dog will recover or not.

What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Water Intoxication?

There are varying degrees of how a dog will be affected by water intoxication. In some cases, the dog may never fully recover and may suffer from brain damage, loss of coordination or even be paralyzed.

On a positive note, most cases will recover completely and show no long-term effects of water intoxication.

Puppies That Are Prone To Water Intoxication

Some puppies are more prone to water intoxication than others. These are typically big-boned puppies that have a lot of growing to do. These puppies should not be over-hydrated with water.

How Can I Prevent My Other Dogs From Getting Water Intoxication?

As we mentioned above, you should keep all of your dogs away from any sources of water (especially if there is a puppy in the house). You will also need to monitor your other dogs and make sure that they aren’t drinking too much water.

Water Intoxication In Dogs – The Trouble With Over Drinking - Dog Puppy Site

If your other dogs are prone to getting sick (they will usually be acting listless or just not acting like themselves), then you should keep an extra eye on them. If you notice any of the signs listed above then you should take them to a veterinarian immediately.

Warnings About Water Intoxication

One of the most important warnings about water intoxication is that it can occur very quickly and it isn’t apparent right away. Your dog may drink the water and act normal. It may be an hour later when you notice signs or even the next day when the symptoms become life-threatening.

This means that you should always keep your dogs from having access to any sources of water (especially if you have a puppy). If your dog does get access to water then you should also keep an extra eye on them for any signs of abnormality.

Another warning about water intoxication is that you can also get it yourself. If you over-hydrate yourself then you can suffer from the same problems as your dog, so make sure that you monitor yourself as well.

In some cases of human water intoxication, the victim will often not receive treatment in time and their brain begins to swell and puts pressure on the brain causing irreversible brain damage and even death.

This is a very rare occurrence and can usually be treated if caught in time, but it is still something to keep in mind.

In Closing

If you do notice any of the signs of water intoxication in your dog then you should get them immediate veterinary care. The quicker the treatment, the better the chance of recovery. Most dogs will fully recover with no lasting effects.

Water Intoxication In Dogs – The Trouble With Over Drinking - DogPuppySite

Just remember that water intoxication can be life-threatening and can occur very quickly. The best prevention is to keep your dog from having access to any sources of water. Also, never let your dog over-hydrate themselves either by forcing them to drink or by giving them swimming pools full of water.

Puppies that are prone to water intoxication include big-boned puppies (who still have a lot of growing to do) and puppies that are very active and like to play hard and then drink a lot of water afterwards. You should keep a special eye on these puppies when it comes to making sure they don’t over-hydrate.

Sources & references used in this article:

Severe hyponatremia after water intoxication: a potential cause of rhabdomyolysis by A Korzets, Y Ori, S Floro, E Ish-Tov… – The American journal …, 1996 – amjmedsci.com

Problems associated with the presence of cyanobacteria in recreational and drinking waters by S Pitois, MH Jackson, BJB Wood – International Journal of …, 2000 – Taylor & Francis

A medical approach to problem drinking. Preliminary report by JJ Smith – Quarterly journal of studies on alcohol, 1949 – jsad.com

Health risk assessment of cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) toxins in drinking water by IR Falconer, AR Humpage – … journal of environmental research and public …, 2005 – mdpi.com

Drinking water quality: problems and solutions. by NF Gray – 1994 – cabdirect.org

An overview of problems caused by toxic blue–green algae (cyanobacteria) in drinking and recreational water by IR Falconer – Environmental Toxicology: An International …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library

The syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone by FC Bartter, WB Schwartz – The American journal of medicine, 1967 – Elsevier

Drug-induced states of impaired water excretion by M Miller, AM Moses – Kidney International, 1976 – Elsevier