A Florida man is warning pet owners to keep a close eye on their dogs this summer after a routine trip to the beach led to the freak death of his beloved black Labrador Retriever, O.G.
Chris Taylor had to put his pup down on Wednesday — just days after the pet was playing and swimming around a beach in the Tampa Bay area. Veterinarians told Taylor his dog suffered from saltwater poisoning.
"It still feels surreal," Taylor told Fox 13. "It doesn't feel like reality. I [have] to get a grip on that and realize that it is real and he's gone."
Drinking seawater can have deadly consequences for both humans and animals alike.
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"When humans drink seawater, their cells are thus taking in water and salt. While humans can safely ingest small amounts of salt, the salt content in seawater is much higher than what can be processed by the human body," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains on its website, adding that it leads to dehydration.
Taylor said he began to see symptoms shortly after they left the beach. O.G. was a "little wobbly," he said, adding that the dog also had diarrhea. The 29-year-old thought he was just tired from their Monday adventure and thought a day of rest would help.
At first, O.G. appeared to be back to normal. But two days later, the dog took a turn for the worse. He stop eating and Taylor rushed him to the hospital, where vets said his brain was swelling and he wasn't going to make it.
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"Accidents can still happen," veterinarian Melissa Webster told Fox 13, explaining that dogs often mistake salt water for fresh water.
The veterinarian reminded pet owners to frequently give their dogs fresh water if they take them to the beach and to monitor them for signs of saltwater poisoning, which includes diarrhea, vomiting or fatigue.
Taylor hopes his story will prevent the deaths of other dogs. He will always remember O.G.'s "vibrant spirit."
"If there was a tennis ball and a stick in a big body of water that's what he would love to do most," Taylor recalled.