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Warning to owners after tragic kids' pool dog death

Winter the Border Collie stood in paddling pool
(Image credit: @jesssayyw/TikTok)

A grieving pet owner has issued a warning to other pet parents after her 18-month-old Border Collie Winter died in a freak accident. 

In a video uploaded to TikTok that has already been viewed over 70,000 times, a distraught Jessie, from British Columbia, Canada, shared the heartbreaking story of her beloved Win.

“My sweet Win passed away over the weekend due to water intoxication from playing in a baby pool for about an hour in around 4 inches of water. Please educate yourself on the dangers of water intoxication in dogs as we enter warmer months.”

Jessie says that Winter loved splashing about in the baby pool and had done so many times the previous summer. “Somehow this time it became fatal,” she explained. 

“He started playing fetch with my best friend, taking a break from splashing, and then I noticed he was getting tired—which is normal for dogs, especially Border Collies on a hot day after playing—he came up to me and I noticed his gums were a bit more pale than normal, I work in health care and pay attention to detail."

According to Jessie, Winter quickly deteriorated and she immediately called the emergency vet.

"He was panting and wanted to go back inside so in we went. After a few steps into the house, Winter threw up a massive amount of water and I immediately knew something was wrong. He walked a few more steps and collapsed and started shaking, drooling, and whining."

Unfortunately, after 15-20 minutes of working on Win and trying to save his life, the vets involved were unable to revive him. 

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After hearing what had happened to Winter, we wanted to understand the risks that playing in water might pose to dogs and so we spoke to our expert vet, Dr. Joanna Woodnutt to get her advice. Here’s what she had to say:

“Water poisoning occurs when a large amount of fresh water is swallowed. This water is absorbed by the body and causes the electrolytes in the body to become unbalanced. Sodium is an electrolyte that is usually carefully controlled by the body as it’s essential for many body processes. But if the sodium level suddenly drops due to excessive water intake, symptoms of water intoxication develop.”

Dr. Woodnutt goes on to add that “whilst this is a very sad story, it’s important to remember that water poisoning is very rare. For most dogs, swimming is a healthy way to exercise while reducing pressure on joints, and it is a great way of helping them keep cool this time of year too.

If your dog likes playing fetch in the water, or seems to swallow a lot of water while swimming, you should keep water sessions to 10-15minutes in length to reduce the risk that they’ll swallow enough to make them ill.”

Jessie says that she’s not wanting to scare people off trying to keep their dogs cool over the summer months, but asks that they please monitor them closely and ensure they have plenty of breaks between their play sessions.

If, after reading this story, you’re at all concerned about your canine companion getting water poisoning, Dr. Woodnutt explains the signs to look out for:

“If your dog has been playing in the water and suddenly becomes lethargic, wobbly, nauseous or bloated, you should take them to your nearest open veterinary surgery immediately, calling them to let them know you are on your way. As shown in the video, time is of the essence in these cases, so it’s best to take off for the vets straight away, even if you get there and find your dog has recovered.”

As for Jessie, she says she misses Win every day. "He truly was the most beautiful, loving, playful, dog I have ever met and he is missed and loved by so many people. He will be forever in our hearts."

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.