Diarrhea Due to Salt Water in Dogs

(Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Randy)

Dogs may have the fun of a lifetime at the beach, but at times, they may bring home much more than memories of the waves and sand. The aftermath may be an annoying diarrhea that actually has a name of its own: ''beach diarrhea.' Learn more about this annoying condition and how to avoid it.


Salt water has an osmotic effect on the intestinal tract of a dog. This means that salt water tends to ''pull," or attract, water into a dog's intestines.


A dog affected by beach diarrhea will obviously develop diarrhea with an urgency to go frequently in small or large amounts. The dog may strain to evacuate, a condition known as ''tenesmus,'' and the stools may appear bloody and covered with mucus.


Often, owners believe that just because they have not seen their dog literally drink salt water he or she is safe from developing beach diarrhea. Yet, there are some more subtle ways dogs ingest salt water such as picking up a salt water-drenched ball or running amid the waves.

A salt water-soaked ball may cause ''beach diarrhea.''
A salt water-soaked ball may cause ''beach diarrhea.'' (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Emery Way)


Beach diarrhea should be short-lived and the dog should progressively get better. Dogs that appear to be lethargic, disinterested in their surroundings and unwilling to eat should be promptly evaluated by a veterinarian.

Lethargy may be a sign of dehydration
Lethargy may be a sign of dehydration (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of kenna takahashi)


The salt content in sea water may not be the only culprit of problems. The ingestion of sand may further irritate the intestinal tract and, to make things worse, sometimes salt water may contain harmful bacteria, algae, microorganisms and even toxins.

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