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In this lesson, we're going to go over what you should do if you find your pet submerged in water and he or she has suffered a near-drowning. At the end of the lesson, we'll provide you with a Word about whether or not dogs can drink too much water.

Some pets love the water and love swimming, and those pets are likely the canines in your household and not your cats. Regardless of their love of water or hatred of it, there's still a good chance that your pet may be exposed at some point to backyard pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans.

It's always a good idea to be prepared for anything, and this includes what to do in the event of a near drowning.

Dogs and cats that suffocate while being submerged underwater is a situation that can happen for a variety of reasons. Your pet may have been swimming along just fine and then suddenly became fatigued. Or your pet may have a condition that prevents them from swimming effectively or perhaps your pet is just more susceptible to ingesting water for whatever reason.

How it happened isn't nearly as important as what you should do next.

How to Rescue Your Pet from a Near Drowning

If you notice your pet submerged in water, remove him completely from the water. You'll want to put him into the best position to help drain the water from his system, meaning through his nose and mouth. The technique for this is as follows:

  • For smaller pets that you can easily lift off the ground, lift your pet's rear half up in the air, while also lowering his head. Point his head downward toward the ground in almost a headstand position.
  • For larger animals that you cannot lift off the ground, simply lift the hind end up to get the head pointed downward.

Pro Tip: Gravity is your friend in these situations. If ever you get flustered and have trouble remembering what to do, just think about it logically. You need to get that water out of your pet and the best way to do that is with an assist from gravity.

After you've done this, you'll want to assess your pet's vital signs, even if he appears fine and dandy and fully recovered. If your pet is still unconscious at this point, you'll need to perform rescue breathing. And if there's no pulse, you may have to begin full CPR.

Warning: Even if your pet isn't showing any signs of trouble following his near-drowning, he still may have ingested a very large amount of water, and this in itself can lead to complications, such as an electrolyte imbalance. Therefore, it's always a good idea to have him evaluated by a veterinarian as quickly as you can.

A Word About Whether or Not Your Dog can Drink too Much Water

Since we just told you that ingesting a large amount of water can be problematic, that perhaps makes this Word a bit less climactic. Nonetheless, it's an important subject, as many people may not realize the dangers associated with drinking too much water.

The truth is that dogs, like people, can die from drinking too much water, as crazy as this sounds.

The technical term for this is called hyponatremia, though you can call it water intoxication if you'd like. It occurs because our sodium levels become dangerously diluted when we, or our pets, ingest too much water. This sudden drop in sodium can be lethal, as sodium in the right ratios and amounts is required for organs to function properly.

This is something you may want to keep in the back of your mind next time you take your dog to the lake. While dogs love to play fetch, especially when it involves swimming out onto a lake to retrieve an object, with every return trip, your dog is likely ingesting a fair amount of water. And this adds up.

It really does come on suddenly, too, as anyone who has experienced hyponatremia will tell you.

Pet expert Cara Armour tackles this subject in an article for the ProPetHero blog that we encourage you to check out. At the end of the article, you'll find a fantastic resource – an infographic that outlines:

  • Mild symptoms of water intoxication
  • Severe symptoms
  • The health consequences of water intoxication
  • The risk factors
  • Preventative techniques
  • Home treatment options
  • Other water-related dangers you should be aware of

Check out the article here: Dogs CAN Drink Too Much Water. And if you really want to be prepared for water emergencies, consider saving the infographic image to your computer and printing it out for your first aid kit. It really might come in handy one fine summer day.