Jump to section

What is Drowning (Near Drowning)?

Immediate death by drowning can occur when a dog inhales a large amount of water. Many dogs rescued from water inhale only a small amount, insufficient to cause immediate death, but enough to create serious breathing problems. In some cases, the dog may appear to be fine at first but will develop respiratory difficulty later as the inhaled water begins to interfere with gas exchange in the lungs. These symptoms, called near drowning or submersion syndrome, can take as long as 24 hours after the original incident to manifest. 1-3 ml of water per kilogram of your dog’s weight will cause near drowning, while 4 ml per kilogram or more will result in immediate death by drowning. As submersion syndrome progresses, inhaled water dilutes the surface lining of the lungs and enters the alveoli where it inhibits the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This leads to respiratory acidosis, a drop in the normal blood oxygen level. As this condition continues, it creates further complications including high blood pressure, ruptured capillaries, hypothermia and lack of oxygen to the brain. The inhalation of salt water can cause problems in smaller quantities since the saline content of the water will cause the alveoli to take on more fluid. Symptoms of near drowning need immediate treatment and very severe cases can still end up being fatal.

Dogs that inhale too much water will die immediately from drowning. When smaller amounts or water are inhaled this doesn’t immediately result in death; however respiratory difficulties often develop as much as 24 hours later. Veterinarians define this condition as near drowning or submersion syndrome. It is a very serious problem and severe cases may still be fatal.

Drowning (Near Drowning) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$9,000

Symptoms of Drowning (Near Drowning) in Dogs

If your dog has fallen into water or you think he may have inhaled water, you should seek veterinary treatment even if there are no symptoms. These are some of the signs you will see as submersion syndrome progresses. They should be treated as an emergency.

  • Labored or open-mouthed breathing
  • Apnea (irregular breathing)
  • Posture changes
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hypothermia (body temperature below 28⁰ Celsius or 82⁰ Fahrenheit)
  • Cyanosis (changes in the color of mucous membranes)
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Acidosis (blood PH well below 7)

Types

There are several types of conditions related to near drowning.

  • Drowning – death from asphyxia or lack of oxygen due to water immersion, either immediately or within 24 hours
  • Submersion syndrome or near drowning – complications related to water inhalation that require medical care
  • Secondary drowning – death from submersion or near drowning more than 24 hours after the incident
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Drowning (Near Drowning) in Dogs

  • Falling into a swimming pool – swimming pools present a significant hazard to dogs. Most dogs will be unable to climb out of a swimming pool due to the high edge, unless they swim toward the steps; teaching your dog to find the steps in a swimming pool can help to save his life
  • Drinking from a hose – this is difficult for a dog and may cause him to accidently inhale water
  • Mouth cleaned out with a hose – this may seem like a good idea if your dog has ingested some type of poison or toxic substance, but it can lead to other issues
  • Inhaling water during swimming – if you think your dog may have inhaled water, it’s as well to seek treatment
  • Swimming in salt water – be especially cautious with salt water since a smaller amount can cause problems
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Drowning (Near Drowning) in Dogs

If your dog is showing severe symptoms of respiratory difficulty, the veterinarian will start treatment immediately without further diagnosis. Blood will likely be taken to measure PH and fluid levels which will help to determine the severity of the condition. A pupil dilation test could be used to check for fluid build-up in the brain. For mild symptoms without a known cause, the veterinarian may take radiographs or ultrasound to look for fluid in the lungs. These tests could also be performed after the immediate symptoms are stabilized if you are not sure what happened. Lung disease and some other conditions could cause similar symptoms. Describing the symptoms exactly as well as any incidents where your may have inhaled water will be helpful.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Drowning (Near Drowning) in Dogs

Immediately after removing your dog from the water, you should attempt to clear the airways. Perform CPR and mouth to nose resuscitation if he is not breathing. Wrap your dog in a blanket to keep him warm, but don’t constrict his movement or cover the mouth or nose. Get to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The veterinarian will administer oxygen immediately, either through a mask or via a ventilator if your dog is not breathing on his own. Oxygen treatment will need to be continued until your dog’s blood has reached a normal level.

Sedation or tranquilizers will often be given to prevent stress and anxiety which can further weaken your dog. Fluid treatment and electrolytes are administered intravenously as necessary. Antibiotics are usually not given in cases of near drowning, unless there is reason to believe the pneumonia is bacteria related. Mannitol may be prescribed for cases where fluid in the brain has led to increased intracranial pressure. The veterinarian will monitor your pet’s body temperature and treat hypothermia as needed.

Your dog will need to remain in a veterinary hospital until it is ascertained that all body systems have fully recovered. Severe submersion syndrome can lead to failure in a number or organs, including the brain, liver, and kidneys, as well as the lungs. Regular heart rate and blood pressure tests will be necessary. The veterinarian may order other treatments as additional problems present themselves.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Drowning (Near Drowning) in Dogs

Recovery will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the diagnosis of the veterinarian upon examination. Dogs with mild symptoms who are treated quickly can make a full recovery. Prevention is the most effective form of management. Cover or gate all swimming pools and teach your dog ways to get out on his own. Install a dog ramp on your pool if necessary. Don’t leave running hoses unattended and monitor your dog whenever he is swimming or paddling, especially in salt water.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Drowning (Near Drowning) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$9,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Drowning (Near Drowning) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Beagle

dog-age-icon

Three Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Trouble Breathing When It Happened.

He fell into the pool and was submerged for not even a second and got out and started making a noise then after a little he was fine he is now acting normal

Aug. 17, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

So sorry to hear about your dog. He may have inhaled some water causing him to have trouble breathing. If he is acting fine, you may be able to watch him and see if he shows any more signs. If he is acting normal now he may be just fine. If he ever starts having issues, it would be best to see your vet right away.

Aug. 17, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bentley

dog-breed-icon

Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Gagging Sound

My 8 month old golden retriever was playing in about 4 inches of water in our bath tub (no soap), as he has many times before. He played for about 5 minutes. When we got out, about 5 minutes later he made a sound I’ve never heard before. It was kind of like a gagging sound. He did it 3 times. It has been 3 hours now. He ate dinner as usual and has peed. So far he seems totally normal otherwise than those three small gagging sounds he initially made. Should we be worried about dry drowning or water in the lungs?

Sept. 1, 2018

Bentley's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bella

dog-breed-icon

Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tired
A Little Sluggish

Hello. Night before last at around 10pm, another couple with their two dogs, the two of us and our shih tzu, Bella, headed down to the boat house to take a little night toodle around the lake. While walking down the dock to the boat house, Bella cut the corner from the dock to the boat house and fell in. She did not come up immediately and we could not hear any splashing, so I along with one of the home owners jumped in. We were calling her name, going under to try to feel for her. The home owner knows the layout of the dock, so she went under to go to the underside. Bella popped up near her and she grabbed Bella. They had to go back under water to get out from under the dock. I'm not sure how long she was under, it seemed like an eternity. I know the other home owner ran back up to the house (approx 50 yards) to get a flash light and came back down via golf cart. As soon as I could see them coming up from under the dock, I grabbed Bella and wrapped her in a towel and held her tight. She was shivering like she does when there is a thunder storm, not like when she gets cold. This was constant. After about two hours, she finally calmed down, we got her dry and held her close the rest of the night. Yesterday she was a little slow, but she is 12 and wears out more easily now. After we got home yesterday, she took a nap and seemed to be rested. She loves to sit at our gate and bark at other dogs that come by on their walk. She was acting like her usual self this morning, doing her little 'tricks' she plays in order to get treats. I felt better about her, but after reading some of the stories on here, I am beginning to wonder if I need to be more concerned.

Aug. 13, 2018

Bella's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It all depends on whether any water was aspirated or not, normally we would see signs of coughing etc… if water was aspirated but it isn’t a consistent sign. You should keep an eye on Bella for the time being but a few days have already passed so she is most likely in the clear; visit your Veterinarian if there are any concerning symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Colby

dog-breed-icon

American Staffordshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tired

Hi Dr. Callum - my dog doesn’t have specific symptoms, but all this talk about dry drowning (for humans as well as dogs) has me terrified to allow any child or dog - both of which simply cannot and will not keep their mouths closed when in water, unless you tape them shut or have them swim with full face scuba masks- to swim, ever. Which would be terrible because it’s one of the only things our dog lives for currently, since he just recently had TPLO surgery and can’t hike again for quite a while. How much of a risk is this exactly? We take our dog swimming in summer at least 3 times per week - we have him wear a life vest to keep his head above water but when he fetches toys he swims back to us with his mouth partially opened and does make noises like he’s taking in water - henever seems affected by it and he’s 4 and has never had an issue, but I’m afraid to let him continue after this - have we just been getting lucky this whole time or is this a rare occurrence?? I think the same thing about the hysteria around children and dry drowning - I understand it’s obviously a very real danger, but at the same time I can’t even count on two hands the number of times I recall accidentally sucking water into my lungs as a kid in the ocean and pools, and somehow I avoided it?? Very confusing.

July 9, 2018

Colby's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Dry drowning is actually rare but it is important to be aware of it, I know myself the amount of times I choked in a pool or in the ocean when I was younger and one time as an adult (snorkel filled with water); thankfully when water hits the back of our throat our body kicks in to prevent water passing down the trachea. Problems with dry drowning normally occur when a dog (or human of any age) unexpectedly falls into water and the shock makes them breathe in which is the worst part; certain dogs which have had laryngeal tie back surgery are at greater risk but if you are taking Colby out responsibly (with life vest etc…) I wouldn’t be too concerned. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 9, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Churro

dog-breed-icon

Cairn Terrier

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Disorientation
Loss Of Balance

My dog knows how to swim but my husband and son noticed him he fell into pool and was on his back. He is now bumping into things and leaning on one side. He even sounds different. I have him in the crate so he can stay in place for a while but he is not liking it. Could this incident have cause Vestibular Disease? He is very afraid to get into the pool on his own but he does swim when I put him in it.

May 27, 2018

Churro's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

It isn't likely that this episode caused vestibular disease, but he may have suffered some trauma during the fall into the pool. Without seeing him, I can't assess his neurologic status, but given what he has been through, it would be a good idea to have him examined by a veterinarian to see what might be going on with him and if he needs any treatment.

May 27, 2018

Why would you put your dog in the pool if he's afraid of the pool? Your dog wasn't swimming for fun. He was swimming for his life! No wonder he's afraid of the pool, you keep putting him in when he doesnt like it! You should probably call an emergency vet. You should also stop putting him in your pool!! If you want to get a dog to like swimming, you have to start slow with water shallow enough for them to stand in. Most of the reason dogs dont like water is because they dont like the feeling of nothing under their paws. My dog isn't fond of swimming. I never force him in the water. I get in and if he gets in great, if not, fine. Anyway, call a vet. If he has a spinal or brain injury, it could be fatal if not treated.

May 27, 2018

Cathy R.

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Stitches

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Labored Breathing
Blowing Nose

About 30 minutes ago, my 6 year old Shih Tzu, dachshund mix fell into our pool while trying to chase a squirrel. He was submerged for a second before swimming to the edge to get out. He loves the pool and has jumped in before, but never fallen in. He shook the water off and had labored breathing. He started making this weird sound as if he was trying to get water out from his nose (like humans when blowing our noses). My dad informed me he’s done this before a few days ago. I’ve never heard him try to “blow his nose” or any dog for that matter. He had a big sneeze and stopped making the noise. He sat with me and ate a treat while I dried him off. About 10 minutes ago, he started chasing a squirrel again and seems to be acting normal. Should I be concerned about dry drowning? He is a medium sized dog and comes in about 24 pounds.

dog-name-icon

Daisy

dog-breed-icon

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Coughed
Coughed Sick

I bathed Daisy and I think she might have inhaled some water as I washed her face. She was a little sick in the bath and coughed, and later I had to wrap her up as she was still cold. Unfortunately it was medicated shampoo (kept away from her face) which stipulates no heat to dry her. She did cough once since but has also eaten her dinner. She is sleeping now. I plan to get her checked in the morning.

dog-name-icon

Jaimi

dog-breed-icon

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Death

We were at the lake having been a frequent go to. I threw the ball a short distance, glanced away for a few seconds acknowledging my other dog. Jaimi was gone. Dove in and got her back to shore. Performed CPR for a extended period of time with no success. I couldn't get her back. I'm sharing this brief description to bring awareness so others may prevent suffering the same tragic loss.

dog-name-icon

Juniper Jane

dog-breed-icon

Doberman Weimaraner

dog-age-icon

16 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Required Chest X-Ray

My 16mo old Weimaraner/Doberman fell into the water hazard in the golf course behind our house. She does not like to swim, but can swim. She lost her footing by the edge and crashed into the water. The pond is 3-4ft deep at its edges, like a water hole, not a natural pond with a shoreline. She fell in and became lodged in the deep mud at the bottom, completely submerged under the water. After a few seconds of her thrashing underwater, I realized she couldn't get to the surface and I jumped in to pull her out. I was up to my waist in water and up to my knees in the mud she was stuck in. I lost my shoes deep in the mud, it was like quicksand and I couldn't get footing to get the dog above water. By the time I got her over 60lb body to the shore she wasn't conscious. She was alive, having mini convulsions, not breathing. I started chest compressions/heimlich to get the water out, she expelled some water and she began seizing, then flailing and thrashing and frothing at the mouth. She was very disoriented and fell over repeatedly when trying to stand. I rushed her to the emergency vet and they sedated her for chest xrays. They found mild pulmonary edema and pumped her full of lasix to help her body clear the excess fluid. She still has follow up from my regular vet to rule out secondary submersion syndrome or potential dry drowning. It was a terrifying incident for the dog, me and one of my children that witnessed it. This was a freak accident and a good reminder, even your dog can swim, they can still drown easily in just a few feet of water.

dog-name-icon

Miho

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

14 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Sneezing
Loss Of Appetite
Labored Breathing

My puppy would often separate her removable bowl from the holder and the water would splash all over her. Before I took her to the doctor, she would often sneeze which led me to believe that she had a cold. I brought her to the doctor and they found that she had a fever. Since she was still eating at the time, the doctor gave me cold medicine for her and I took her home. Later that day she no longer ate/drank water, and all she did was sleep and sneeze. Water also dripped from her nose and had diarrhea. I went back to the vet who said that my dog's lungs weren't clear and may have water inside. Her white blood cell count was high and she had a bacterial infection. The doctor said that since my dog was still a puppy, her case is serious. She is currently in an oxygen chamber getting nebulized. She is also being given fluid treatment.

Drowning (Near Drowning) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$9,000