Is sea water harmful to my Cairn Terrier? June 22, 2019 08:17

Is sea water harmful to my Cairn Terrier?


Yes it can be very harmful if a lot is ingested.  In extreme cases it can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, in coordination, seizures and kidney failure.  What is happening in the dog’s body when over loaded with salt is that their fluid balance is disrupted.  Their bodies will try and flush out the salt by drawing water from the blood to the intestines.

Another big symptom of major ingestion is a dog’s odd behaviour.  They may seem confused or non-responsive.

If you are interested in owning a Cairn Terrier as a family pet, here are some other articles that you may find useful:


A mild ingestion can result in diarrhoea.  The best course of action in a mild case is make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration.  Get a vet’s advice too.  A major ingestion needs a vet’s quick attention where the dog’s electrolytes can be measured and IV fluids administered to try and restore the salt/water balance.  They can also check to see if there is any brain swelling. 

So why would a dog take on board seawater?  Surely it is as unpalatable to them as it is to us?  Two possible reasons are first by accident, by frolicking in the waves, fetching toys and generally leaping about with mouths wide open.  Second, high levels of activity in the sunshine will lead to greater thirst, and if no fresh water is available, saltwater gets gulped up instead.

To try and prevent a salt-water catastrophe, have fresh water available on the beach and make sure your dog has regular breaks from sea play.  If it’s a hot day, shade is essential too.

I do so hate being the harbinger of grim information, especially as we ourselves had a fabulous beach visit recently.  All three girls adored exploring, paddling and hurtling through the surf, it was a real joy to see.  So store the information in that part of the brain reserved for things that, “probably wont happen, but if they do I am now armed with some useful information to deal with it”.

We fully intend to spend much more time at the beach this year, hope you do too.  The benefits FAR outweigh the disadvantages.

Ruth x

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