Is Salt Water Bad for Dogs? (Drink, Skin, Fur, Eyes, & Ears)

Is Salt Water Bad for Dogs

We all know how drinking salt water is bad for you us, but what about for dogs? And not just drinking it, but how about salt water being bad for a dog’s skin, fur, ears, and eyes? Do you need to wash salt water off dogs if it’s going to cause them harm? These questions and more are all answered below.

Is salt water bad for dogs? Salt water is bad for dogs if they drink it. A small amount might cause diarrhea but ingesting large amounts of salt water can poison a dog. Salt water can also be bad for dog’s ears, leading to a small chance of a bacterial infection.

In the rest of this guide, I am going to explain how much salt water is bad for dogs, symptoms of salt water poisoning in dogs, and how it can also affect their skin, fur, eyes, and ears.

Does salt water hurt dogs?

Salt water can hurt dogs if they drink it. By drinking salt water in just small amounts your dog could become ill, and even die if larger amounts of salt water is ingested.

And then of course there’s the beach. If you’re amongst the many pet owners who love taking their dog to the seaside for some summer fun, what are the risks of swimming? Does this mean your dog should never step foot in the sea?

Here’s what you need to know.

A trip to the beach or pool time during the summer heat is often a dream come true for most of our four-legged friends.

dog at the beach
Be careful your dog does not drink salt water at the beach (

When the weather feels great, there’s no way your doggo will say not to joining you in ocean. And if there’s one thing they’ll care less about, it’s the water’s saltiness.

To them, the show must go on! Chasing the waves and romping in the cool waters must go on!

But you know who should care? You.

Most dogs enjoy being in water (whether salty or not) when the sun is out. That’s alright. Problem is, dogs don’t know what’s good for them, and what they should be cautious of.

If they’re in salt water, they might be tempted to drink it out of curiosity or because they’re genuinely thirsty. Other times, dogs can drink salt water accidentally when splashing it around or repeatedly picking fetch toys drenched by the sea.

Salt water isn’t good for dogs. End of story.

When your dog drinks a small amount of salt water, they’ll get an upset stomach and diarrhea. Swallowing a little salt water may not cause major harm. Still, the fact that it has minor health consequences simply means it’s not safe for our canine friends.

Why diarrhea? You may wonder.

Handy Hint: Dogs will not get poisoned if they drink a little bit of chlorine water from a pool.

Salt water poisoning in dogs

Salt water has a laxative effect. If swallowed, it will draw water from your dog’s intestines, resulting in bowel urges and loose stool a few hours later. There’s a term for this type of diarrhea dogs get when they ingest salt water during beach time — “beach diarrhea.”

And when your dog drinks down lots of salty water, the side effects are potentially fatal. They’ll experience what we call salt poisoning in dogs, which can lead to death if you don’t make an emergency vet visit.

Symptoms of salt water poisoning in dogs

Besides excessive diarrhea, they’ll some of the following serious symptoms of salt water poisoning in dogs:

  • Persistent nausea and vomiting.
  • Walking difficulties.
  • Excessive urination.
  • Extreme thirst.
  • Muscle stiffness.
  • Extreme loss of appetite.
  • Body tremors.
  • Lethargy.
  • Seizures.
  • Swelling of the tongue and brain.

Severe dehydration also occurs.  When there’s too much salt in your dog’s body, various cells release most of their water content to restore the body’s correct balance of salt and water.

The body cells will almost exhaust the water they have, causing dehydration. Constant urination also plays a role in the severe dehydration.

What precautions should you take?

You should ensure your dog’s only type of drinking water is freshwater and freshwater alone. Never give them salty water to drink.

Plus, each time you visit the beach or pool, keep a close eye on your dog. You should quickly intervene with the “no” command when you catch them lapping the salt water, so they can know it’s wrong.

This next point is very important.

Pay close attention to how your dog behaves once the beach or pool fun ends and you’re all back home. If you notice any diarrhea or they seem unwell, see a vet right away. Don’t wait until more symptoms appear.

The salty water will continue causing more damage to their body organs — especially the kidney and brain. This dog here died days after suffering salt toxicity, which he got from the beach.

Above all, always carry enough fresh water to the pool or beach. Ensure your canine friend has frequent water breaks (at least every 10-15 minutes), so they can quench their thirst with fresh water before returning to the pool or sea.

Rehydration is everything when your dog is out in the salty waters under the sun.

How to treat salt water poisoning in dogs at home?

I don’t recommend you attempt to treat salt water poisoning in your dog at home. Seek professional help as soon as possible so a vet can work to restore your dog’s water and electrolyte balance to normal levels.

Is salt water bad for dogs skin?

Before you take your dog for a much-needed swim at the beach, always remember this — all that salt water isn’t doing your dog’s skin and fur much good.

Whilst it’s fine to let your dog swim a dip in salt water, make sure you clean them off afterwards. So no, don’t cancel those swim dates.

The issue, though, is, salt water is a notorious irritant. When it dries on your dogs coat, the salt particles linger on their skin, causing irritation and redness. Your furry friend can get bacterial growth from this.

That’s why salt water can be bad for a dog’s skin and fur… the irritation is often worse for dogs with dense fur coats or silky hair — like the Husky or Maltese.

Is salt water bad for a dog’s fur?

For dogs with a fluffier look (that’s the quickest way to know if a dog is double–coated), the salt water will penetrate deeper into their fur. So, when it dries out, there’ll be lots of salt particles on the dog’s skin and body.

Those with silky hair also have it rough because much of their skin will be exposed when their hair is wet. The dried salt particles will have a field day on the dog’s skin.

Something else about salty water — it will dry out your canine’s coat.

When swimming in salty water becomes the norm for your dog, their coat will suffer. It will lose its softness and shine because this water strips off moisture from your dog’s skin, and the natural oils spread all over their coat.

The outcome? A dry, unhealthy-looking fur coat with almost-missing hair patches.

Do you need to wash salt water off dogs?

If you don’t want your dog’s lustrous fur coat to face the wrath of the salty waters, consider these three tips, which includes the need to wash salt water off their fur:

  • After a day on the shore, make sure to rinse (as you massage) your canine friend thoroughly with fresh water. A thorough rinse- from head to toe will flush out all the salty water. Let them dry in the shade rather than in direct sunlight.
  • Don’t overdo the beach or pool dates. It shouldn’t be a regular thing for your dog. Plus, always limit how much time they spend in the salty water.
  • Don’t clean up your dog before they take their swim in the salty water. This will leave their fur void of the natural oils, making the situation worse once they soak in the salted water.
  • Consult your vet on the ideal dog-friendly moisturizer or essential oils you can use on their body after rinsing off the salt water.

Is salt water bad for dog’s eyes?

Salt water is not bad for a dog’s eyes. In fact, vets will often use a saline solution to wash dog’s eyes, so based on that, there’s no harm. But, salt water might sting your dog’s eyes as it would a human being.

Is salt water bad for dog’s ears?

Salt water can be bad for a dog’s ears if you don’t wash it and dry it out thoroughly after they swim in the sea. The reason is because salt water can exacerbate the rate at which infections set in.

How much salt water is bad for dogs?

Any amount of salt water is bad for dogs. While small amounts can only cause diarrhea, lots of it causes serious symptoms like severe dehydration.


In conclusion, salt water is bad for dogs if they drink it. Salt water can also be bad for their fur and skin, but it’s not a huge issue that most dog owners should be worried about – unless your dog is swimming in salt water daily.

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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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