• Northern Illawarra Veterinary Hospital

Summer Fun

Updated: May 20, 2020

I hope everyone has had a fun summer holiday break. It was nice enjoying the warm days at the beach and the BBQs. I saw lots of dogs and their companions on the beach having a great time.

The usual summer fun also brings a few incidents through our doors and I thought I would share one with you.

You may remember Rafael from a previous story where he had swallowed a fish hook when he was 5 months old! Well Rafael has survived to be nearly 12 months old but not without incident. Unfortunately he has a form of elbow dysplasia causing lameness and required surgery. We mentioned that swimming was a great recovery exercise for him where there was not too much strain on his joints.

Recently he became very quiet and was off his food over a couple of days. This was very unlike him so his owners brought him in for a check. He was very lethargic and had a fever. Initially we thought he may have had an infection in his joints or had been a bit too greedy in ingesting a whole coconut that was offered him but no evidence of this could be found. In passing it was mentioned he was producing the occasional soft cough and gag. With no other evidence to the cause of his symptoms on examination and bloods tests, we took some chest x rays. This proved to be the definitive step as we found subtle changes suggesting aspiration pneumonia.

Rafael is very enthusiastic and doesn’t do anything by halves. We found out later he loves to chase the ball through the surf, crash through the waves and grab the ball with his head under water. Dogs cannot close their mouth to seal it like we do and as you can imagine, when out of breath and diving into rough water to grab a ball with your mouth, it’s not hard to see how a dog can ingest and sometimes even inhale the water. Fortunately for Rafael, he is young and otherwise healthy and did not do too much damage. He is now making a good recovery with rest and antibiotics.

This is a rare misadventure but still worth considering if your dog is an enthusiastic swimmer at the beach. Mostly we find these dogs can get an upset stomach from swallowing too much water but occasionally they may be unlucky enough to get water into their lungs.