How to Treat Salt Water Poisoning in Dogs at Home

How to Treat Salt Water Poisoning in Dogs at Home

If you’ve returned from a beach trip and believe your dog has ingested too much salt water and could be sick, you should immediately call a vet. Once you’ve done that, you might take some steps to treat salt water poisoning in your dog from home, but only once the vet approves your course of action – it’s a serious matter that could be life or death.

How to treat salt water poisoning in dogs at home? The truth is, there are no real home remedies to treat salt water poisoning in dogs aside from giving them fresh drinking water at intervals. As you’ll soon see, salt water toxicity is often a matter of life and death. It should be treated medically by a professional for your dog to recover fully.

Before I go any further though. Please be aware that the notes given on this page are based on my personal experience and what I’ve read online. You should always seek expert advice from a vet if your dog drink salt water, and you suspect he or she has poisoning.

Want to know why it’s hard to treat salt water poisoning in dogs at home? Below I will explain what makes this condition potentially deadly and why your dog must receive medical help.

Salt poisoning in dogs: a home treatment perspective

Sadly, almost all cases of salt water poisoning in dogs are traced back to the beach. And it makes sense why this happens. While your dog is out there chasing the waves and running after fetch toys in the ocean, they can accidentally ingest the salty water or lap it up on purpose (several times) because they’re thirsty – it is bad for dogs.

By the time your dog leaves the ocean, the salt water will have built up in their body. It will only hit you later when you realize your ever-bubbly seems a bit under the weather.

And like any other concerned dog parent, you’d want to know what you can do to help your treasured canine friend recover from salt water poisoning.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ll say it anyway.

There aren’t specific home remedies for salt water poisoning in dogs that can help your pet fully recover without going to the vet. It’s because it is complicated (and potentially deadly) and should always be checked by a professional.

salt poisoning in dogs home treatment
Don’t try to treat salt water poisoning at home without first speaking with a vet (

The possible ways people will say you treat salt water poisoning in dogs at home could only revolve around two things:

  • Giving your dog fresh drinking water to rehydrate them and dilute the excess salt in their blood. But you should only let them drink it in intervals, not lots of it at once. Taking a lot of fresh water in one sitting will lead to more salt-water imbalance issues in their body.
  • Not offering your dog salty foods when they’re in that salt-intoxicated state. More salt will only worsen the salt levels in the body.

But you must remember that these two solutions won’t automatically heal your dog. They will still need medical treatment.

Salt water poisoning in dogs is life-threatening. It can cost your furry friend’s life if they don’t get early treatment. So, not at home, but with a vet please.

You see, your dog’s body needs a healthy sodium-water balance to function properly. When they develop salt water poisoning, it only means the salt concentration in their blood has reached abnormal levels — which is dangerous.

Experts don’t even recommend treating a salt-intoxicated dog at home. Neither do they advise observing them first and rushing them to the vet when serious symptoms develop.

Here’s the thing about salt water intoxication.

Symptoms start as mild, so you might easily get the impression that “it’s not that serious” But no matter how minor a symptom looks, take it as a warning signal that your dog will get worse if they don’t receive timely treatment.

The longer you keep your dog at home, the more damage the excess salt will continue causing in their body. This lovely dog here died from salt water poisoning because his owner didn’t take him to the vet as soon as the initial symptoms appeared.

Dangers of salt water poisoning in dogs

Ever asked yourself why salt is often the most preferred natural preservative for meat?

That’s because it absorbs all the moisture present in the meat. Moisture is what makes foods go bad because bacteria likes moist environments.

Now, excess salt in your dog’s blood acts the same way. In the event of salt water intoxication, the salt will draw (or absorb) moisture from your dog’s muscles, leaving the muscles stiff.

Also, your dog’s cells need water to carry out their normal cellular functions. But when there’s a lot of salt in the blood, these cells will try to correct the imbalance.

Excess salt will trigger these cells to release their water in an effort to “dilute” the high sodium levels in your dog’s blood. That’s how dehydration will kick in.

And it doesn’t end there.

Besides salt poisoning destroying your dog’s body cells, it will also damage the kidneys and brain. Your furry pal’s kidneys will have to work harder than usual to clear out the excess salt (through urination).

The high salt water content will leak into the brain, destroying most of your dog’s brain cells.

If your dog is suffering from salt water poisoning, they’ll experience the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of interest in daily activity
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • General body weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Confused behavior
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Apettite loss
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Untreated salt toxicity in dogs can kill in days. That’s why you can’t afford to keep your dog at home in the name of “monitoring them” or treating them yourself.

Only early treatment can reverse these salt water poisoning symptoms.

So, if your dog looks unwell after a short visit to the beach, always assume it’s the salt water poisoning symptoms manifesting slowly.

Don’t downplay the symptoms — rush them to the vet clinic before it’s too late. They are better in the hands of a vet than at home.

Handy Hint: Dogs that drink sea water are also inclined to drink water from toilet bowls.

Salt water poisoning treatment in dogs

In most cases, salt water intoxication will need hospitalization since it’s a delicate condition. Your canine friend will receive intravenous fluids (IV) to restore the water-electrolyte balance in their body.

But before this happens, your vet will first have to assess the level of excess salt in your dog’s blood. This will ensure they get the right amount of IVs.

Your dog will likely be in hospital for a few days as it takes time before the blood sodium levels return to normal. The vet will also administer certain medications to manage the salt poisoning symptoms.

how do you treat salt water poisoning in dogs
Stop your dog getting salt water poisoning by keeping on a leash at the beach (

Your furry friend will have constant vet support, don’t worry. Many dogs recover with treatment.

And during discharge, your vet will advise you on how to support your dog as they continue to recover at home.

I can almost hear you asking, does it mean your dog should never step foot on the beach after surviving a salt water poisoning ordeal?

Not at all.

Your canine pal can still enjoy themselves at the seaside. But you should take precautions as their caregiver, among them:

  • Always keep a watchful eye on your dog while they’re playing. That’s the only to stop them from gulping down the salty water.
  • Carry enough fresh water to the beach so your canine friend has an alternative if they get thirsty.
  • Make sure your dog has frequent water breaks to help them stay hydrated as they play.
  • Limit how much time you allow them to play in the salt water

Related questions

How do I know if my dog has salt water poisoning?

You can know your dog has developed salt water toxicity if they seem under the weather after spending time in places with easy access to salt water— for instance, the beach.

What can I give my dog after drinking salt water?

Let them take sips of fresh water at intervals (not lots of it in one sitting). You’ll help them stay rehydrated and at least dilute the high salt content in their blood.

But the most important thing you should do is to take them to the vet for better treatment.

How long does sodium poisoning last in dogs?

Sodium poisoning in dogs lasts for a few days. Without early treatment, a salt-intoxicated dog can die in a matter of days.

Can a dog recover from salt poisoning?

Yes, that’s correct. A dog can recover from salt poisoning. But only if you take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms.


If you have any suspicions that your dog has salt poisoning, get to a vets. Whilst it’s tempting to see how you can treat salt water poisoning in your dog from home, an initial assessment by a vet is paramount.

They might then send you home to do home-based treatments, but until a professional has checked your dog out , don’t take risks.

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Image of dog in sea used in header via

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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