You’re here because as much as you tried to persuade them otherwise, your dog drank more salt water than they should. Now you’re either experiencing the wrath of Poseidon, or trying to anticipate it, but either way you’ve come across a page full of helpful tips!
Before you read the rest of this, get out the plastic furniture covers cause it’s about to get messy.
When any dog, or other mammal for that matter, drinks salt water they become dehydrated by all the extra sodium now in their system. This throws their electrolytes out of wack and in most cases causing vomiting and diarrhea. In our experiences with Finlay (our beagle puppy), even 10 seconds of sea-water-slurping can result in a whole day of disgusting. He vomits without any heaving, it just comes up suddenly, and has lots of gas followed by fairly runny stool (sorry if that was TMI, but you’re most likely about to experience it first hand).
For most dogs this is a 24-hour or less ailment, but it can be fairly serious and sometimes fatal so use your best judgment– if your dog looks like he’s on death’s door don’t be a fool, take them to the vet.
In the mean time, while you’re trying to determine if this is a life or death situation, here’s a few things you can do to help your sea-sick furry-friend pass the time.–We are NOT vets and the information below is just a compiling of things we’ve gathered around the internet and tested on our dog. Once again, we are not vets and you should use your judgment/consult your vet on all of the suggestions listed below–
#1 Keep them Hydrated
I know, this is more fuel for them to fire at you, but your dog needs water, especially if he’s expelling food and/or liquid from his body. Give your dog small amounts of water every 1/2 hour, even if it means you’ll be cleaning it up, and monitor how long it takes/ how much of it is being vomited. Keeping him hydrated is #1 because if you don’t he can get much sicker very quickly.
If he’s vomited but is able to keep water down for 2 hours, he can then have apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or water from a can of tuna diluted 1 part tuna water to 10 parts plain water. Again, give the fluids in small, frequent, amounts.
#2 Don’t get Mad
If your dog is throwing up it’s because he’s not feeling well, so try your best to keep calm. You can set them up for success by keeping them off the carpets, on an easy to wipe down surface. We don’t suggest putting them outside alone, if your dog is really sick you probably need to monitor him, plus he’ll feel like he’s done something wrong if you exclude him from the pack.
Just in case he’s vomiting from something other than sea water, you may want to take your other, well-feeling pets somewhere else. Your dog may try to eat its own vomit and as we all know it’s easier to keep one dog from eating something, than 3. You’re also going to want your dog to rest, and without their mates around you may have a better chance of this happening.
#4 Make them a comfortable, washable place to lie down
I recommend bunching up a sheet or old towel on an easy to clean floor surface. This way if they continue to get sick you can just toss it in the wash, mop down the floor, and press on.
#5 WITHHOLD FOOD until it has been 24 hours since they last vomited.
This gives the intestines a chance to rest and heal. After 24 hours without vomiting, you can start your dog back on a bland diet. Many vets online recommend a mixture of 75% cooked white rice, and 25% low fat protein. For the protein you could use extra lean ground beef, boiled with the fat scooped off, or chicken breast boiled with fat scooped off or even scrambled egg cooked without fat in the microwave. Feed small frequent meals, avoid anything salty. Day 3 post incident, if there is still no vomiting, your dog can go back to normal dog food.
We also saw a lot of people saying you could give your dogs a few different over-the-counter meds, but we’re not into that so you’ll have to find that information on your own.
Our dog has never gone to the vet after drinking saltwater, but there are a lot of really sad stories about owners who thought their dogs were fine and their animals ended up dying (because of salt water, or because something else they ate). Saline saturation causes swelling which can lead to all kinds of complications. We don’t want to scare you, but we also don’t want to assure you that everything will be fine. Use your judgement and sorry about all the sick you’ll be cleaning up!