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Veterinarian gives stern warning after dog dies from saltwater poisoning

WFLA - Chris Taylor never thought something like this would happen. How could it? 

Losing his best buddy didn't even seem possible. The two had been inseparable for seven years - side by side. The 29-year-old University of South Florida student met his four-legged family member when the little guy was just three-months-old. He remembers the puppy's wide, curious, loving eyes and floppy ears that bounced in the wind when he ran.

The black Labrador Retriever, nicknamed O.G., loved one thing more than anything else - the water.

"He always wanted to be doing what I was doing," Chris told WFLA. "He's my family. he's just so goofy and just always excited to see me when I came through the door."

As Chris studied at USF to become a high school teacher, O.G. was always right there, waiting patiently for dad to put away the books, so they could get to the beach - which is exactly what the two did on Monday. They soaked up the sun and played for hours in the water at Honeymoon Island dog beach.

Then, that night, the problems began.

The lab began having stomach issues with diarrhea and vomiting. On Tuesday, O.G. was eating and drinking a bit, but lethargic. Chris kept a close eye on him, even boiling chicken and rice for him to eat. 

Then, on Wednesday, things took a dramatic turn. The pup became critical. He wasn't eating. He wasn't responding. He was in a daze, wandering around, staring blankly into the corner. Chris knew he had to act fast. He rushed him to the vet.

Sadly, it was too late.

O.G. was slowly dying from saltwater poisoning. He was severely dehydrated and suffered brain damage. With tears in his eyes, Chris described what his best friend looked like Wednesday night after suffering a seizure.

"I saw him last night, and he was convulsing, and I asked if he was in pain, she said I don't even think he knows where he is."

According to veterinarians, saltwater can be highly toxic to animals. In fact, when dogs ingest large amounts of saltwater, it can cause life-threatening conditions, similar to those suffered by O.G., such as severe brain damage, dehydration and seizures. 

Chris had no idea that a few hours at the dog beach, a place he and his buddy loved so much, would be so harmful. 

"They told me, there's nothing we can do right now. I thought, this is my son. I don't have children of my own," he said.

Longtime veterinarian Dr. Katy Meyer from Tampa Bay Emergency Veterinary Services says she's seen cases like this many times. Practicing since 1979, the well-known vet admits that sometimes pet owners don't realize what's happening until it's too late. 

"Things can come on gradually and you're not aware of how serious things are up front," she told us. 

She points out that when sodium levels get extremely high, they affect the brain - and your pet's life is in danger.

"When the brain gets affected, the body is affected," she said.

Dr. Meyer offers this crucial advice: If you want to take your dog to the beach, limit the trip to two hours, taking breaks every thirty minutes with plenty of fresh water for your four-legged family member.  

It could save your little one's life.


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