How Fast Can a Dog Drown?

September 28, 2022 3 min read

Even though many dogs can float, there is still a danger of drowning. A dog drowning can be a traumatic experience for both you and your dog. The trauma can be devastating and you will likely feel guilt after your dog drowns. Here are some signs that your dog is drowning. If you notice these symptoms, take immediate action.

Dry Drowning

Dry drowning in dogs is a potentially life-threatening condition for your dog. While symptoms can be delayed by hours, they should be addressed immediately. If you suspect dry drowning, take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination. Although symptoms of dry drowning may not be immediately evident, they can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, wheezing, and extreme lethargy.

Dry drowning in dogs is more common than you might think. This condition occurs when a dog accidentally swallows water and begins to have trouble breathing. The dog may also exhibit symptoms of larynx spasm. Although dry drowning usually occurs hours after a pet has been near water, it's still important to get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Nonfatal Drowning

Unlike human drowning, nonfatal dog drowning can be reversible with proper treatment. Treatment involves increasing the dog's body temperature and supplying oxygen. The goal is to prevent organ failure. Fortunately, with prompt veterinary care, most dogs can survive with only minor complications.

Dog drowning can happen anywhere where there is water, including swimming pools, lakes, ponds, and bathtubs. Some breeds are naturally good swimmers. Others will get in the water for a little while and get tired of it. Nonfatal dog drowning is more likely to occur in puppies than older dogs. Moreover, unfenced water bodies with steep sides pose a significant risk for dogs. This is why it is crucial to supervise your pet around water or thin ice.

In the United States, there are around 8,080 nonfatal drowning incidents every year, or 22 drowning incidents every day. While the majority of these drowning incidents are not fatal, many can lead to long-term health problems. In fact, about 40% of nonfatal drownings require additional medical care, which can lead to hefty medical bills.

Secondary Drowning

Secondary drowning in dogs is a potentially life-threatening condition. Symptoms can show up days after a dog nearly drowns. The animal may appear to be normal, but symptoms of this illness include lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and distress. Due to lack of oxygen, these symptoms can progress rapidly. For this reason, it is imperative to seek emergency medical care if these symptoms are present.

While the primary cause of this condition is unknown, it is best to address the condition as soon as possible. In many cases, secondary drowning is treatable and prospects for recovery are good. Whether your dog drowned in fresh or salt water, a thorough examination and treatment are necessary.

Common Signs of Drowning in Dogs

Common signs of drowning in dogs include chest pain, difficulty breathing, wheezing, and extreme lethargy. Dogs that are near drowning should be taken to a vet as soon as possible. It can take hours or days for signs of dry drowning to appear, but even a few hours can be enough to cause your dog to become very ill.

While drowning is most dangerous for young and old dogs, small dogs are particularly vulnerable. They may not be able to swim properly and may be held under water by young children who are not fully aware of their pet's size. Water in the airways can also be dangerous for small dogs, and if the airways are not clear, water can accumulate inside the dog's lungs. The fluid in the lungs can cause cardiac arrest.

Treatment Options

If your dog has been submerged in water, you should seek emergency veterinary care. A thorough examination of the body is essential to determining the condition of the dog. A chest X-ray can reveal fluid or a blood clot, while ECG monitoring can show any signs of heart or respiratory damage. Urine analysis can help determine if hemoglobinuria has developed. Further tests may be necessary to determine the level of oxygenation and cellular damage.

Treatment options for dogs who drown vary depending on the severity of the near drowning. Even if the water level is low, the dog may have inhaled water that irritates the lungs, causing swelling and fluid accumulation. In severe cases, the dog may die from this condition.

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