“Beach diarrhea” is much different in presentation from the average diarrhea your dog gets from eating something he should not have or being switched over to a novel food too fast.
Being aware of this type of diarrhea is important, considering this form of diarrhea happens quickly and can can cause dogs to become very thirsty due to dehydration, which can potentially lead to complications if left untreated for too long.
Beach diarrhea in dogs can be easily diagnosed based on a dog's history of being at the beach and can be confirmed by an easy test.
Prevention is fairly easy, as long as you follow some easy steps when you bring Rover over to the beach.
What is Beach Diarrhea in Dogs?
Beach diarrhea is often described as being a type of diarrhea that has quite a unique presentation.
Affected dogs generally develop a very liquid, clear and almost projectile type of diarrhea, that almost squirts out of a dog's bottom with little notice.
Owners sometimes describe it as liquid diarrhea shooting out of the dog's rear, almost like a fountain.
On top of diarrhea, dogs may also become very thirsty and they may sometimes vomit too. Some dogs will shake too when their stomach is upset.
What Causes Beach Diarrhea in Dogs?
The main culprit of beach diarrhea is drinking excess salt water. When dogs are at the beach, they often are playing around and panting. As they get hot from exercising and warm weather, they'll feel compelled to drink.
Dogs will therefore feel tempted to drink sea water given the opportunity. Salt water isn't very appealing, but it's cool and if no other type of water is available, they'll try to quench their thirst this way.
On top of drinking salt water due to thirst, dogs often accidentally ingest salt water as they are swimming around with their mouth open from panting or when trying to catch a toy or ball.
Dogs may also enjoy playing with the water, trying to catch waves crashing to the shore or splashes of water with their mouth. This may seem like a little water, but it quickly adds up after several minutes.
Why Does Ingesting Salt Water Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?
When dogs drink sea water, the salt water pulls fluids from the tissues into the intestines, having an osmotic effect.
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The ingestion of salt can therefore have a profound laxative effect. Basically, the salt water ingestion in the dog potentially causes an electrolyte imbalance of excess sodium with causes osmotic diarrhea.
The beach diarrhea may go on for some hours. In severe cases of salt intoxication, the dog may get severely dehydrated.
Severe neurological issues may arise as water is pulled from the brain, leading to increased intracranial pressure and potential tremors, seizures and even death.
Fortunately though in many cases, dogs will have just a couple of bouts of diarrhea and will get better by drinking plenty of fresh water.
If your dog has persistent diarrhea and starts vomiting, becomes lethargic and refuses food, it is best to have him checked out by a vet to be on the safe side.
Why Does Ingesting Salt Water Cause Excessive Peeing in Dogs?
On top of causing diarrhea, romping around in the beach and drinking salt water can trigger excessive peeing in dogs, why is that?
Just as the salt exerts an effect on the dog's intestines, it can also impact their kidneys. Basically, as excess salt passes through the dog's kidneys, its triggers excess urine production as a defense mechanism.
The body is basically trying to "flush" itself from the excess salt.
Why Does Ingesting Salt Water Cause Coughing in Dogs?
Dog owners should be cautions about dogs who develop a persistent cough after ingesting salt water at the beach. This can be due to having aspirated some water or vomit (if the dog has been vomiting) in the lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia.
Treatment for Beach Diarrhea in Dogs
It helps to therefore allow impacted dogs to drink as much fresh non-salted water as possible, but even this needs to be monitored. If the dog drinks too much water at once, it may trigger vomiting.
In such cases, it helps to to limit the dog's water intake by providing only smaller amounts of water but distributed frequently throughout the day, suggests veterinarian Dr. Salkin.
Dogs who are vomiting may benefit from a bland diet. Veterinarian Dr. Cherry provides info on this here: bland diet for a dog's upset stomach.
Severe cases may need to be placed on IV fluids and possible hospitalization. If your dog has persistent diarrhea, is vomiting, shaking, not eating and lethargic, please have your dog see the vet at once.
Prevention of Beach Diarrhea in Dogs
Prevention of beach diarrhea is fairly easy: make sure to bring along plenty of fresh water so your dog does not feel compelled to drink sea water.
Also monitor your dog when he's playing in the water, redirecting as needed if you notice him trying to drink sea water or mouthing too much the water even if in play.