Chris Taylor couldn’t believe it – how could things have changed so quickly? One day his dog was playing happily on the beach, the next he was gone. Consequently, Taylor vowed to warn others about the unexpected killer – no other dogs would be victims if he could help it.
Beaches are a common sight across beautiful, sun-drenched Florida, and Tampa is no exception. It’s common practice for families to spend their free time topping up their tan and soaking in the sea. And it’s not just humans that enjoy the beach either.
Along the shore, you’ll no doubt see many people making the most of the coast with their dogs. It seems like the perfect opportunity for your furfriends to play. The sand is soft on their paws, there’s plenty of running space and there’s another bonus: the ocean.
There’s arguably nothing better than basking in the sun on a hot day and then taking a cool dip. It must be even better if you’re covered in fur like man’s best friend. No surprise, then, that some dogs just can’t get enough of splashing through the sea.
That was the case with 29-year-old Taylor’s Labrador retriever dog, O.G. Just like the rest of his breed, O.G. loved the water. Humans bred Labrador retrievers to fetch shot game (hence their name). Waterfowl were popular prey, so Labradors needed to be competent swimmers.
Consequently, Hayward’s best friend O.G. also had a passion for the water. Taylor adopted him as a three-month-old puppy, all wide-eyed innocence and curiosity. O.G. had been at his human’s side ever since, even as Taylor’s life focus drifted to his career.
To be more specific, Taylor had his heart set on becoming a high-school teacher. With this in mind, he attended the University of South Florida to achieve his goal. But whenever Taylor had some down time, O.G. would be ready to play.
On July 9, 2018, Taylor put his studying on the back burner for a much-needed break. Subsequently, he decided to take his rest and relaxation with O.G. So they headed for a Tampa dog beach called Honeymoon Island, where Taylor’s buddy could run and swim to his heart’s content.
The pair spent hours on the beach that day, but just 48 hours later, O.G. was dead. Taylor expressed his surprise to the Inside Edition on July 18, 2018. “I didn’t think it could lead to his death,” he said. “He loved to swim. He loved to play fetch.”
Taylor initially noticed the change in O.G. when they returned from their trip that same day. After a few hours, the dog experienced some internal distress. To be more specific, O.G. suffered from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, and that was just the beginning.
The dog’s health continued to deteriorate, and on the next day, he was like a completely different animal. Taylor described how his best friend hadn’t seemed to know where he was. Furthermore, O.G. was so disoriented that he didn’t recognize his human, either.
“He started to not acknowledge who I was,” Taylor said of O.G. “He would just walk into a corner and stare blankly.” Taylor was worried about his buddy and consequently rushed him to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. Unfortunately, it was bad news.
The vet informed Taylor that O.G. had contracted saltwater poisoning from all the seawater he had ingested at the beach. As a result, they administered an I.V. drip to try and rehydrate him. However, it was too late, and the damage to O.G. was irreversible.
The saltwater damaged O.G.’s brain, and he suffered a seizure as his human sat with him. “I saw him last night, and he was convulsing,” a heart-broken Taylor told WFLA on July 12, 2018. “I asked if he was in pain; [the vet] said, ‘I don’t even think he knows where he is.’”
“They told me there’s nothing we can do right now,” Taylor continued. “I thought, this is my son. I don’t have children of my own.” O.G. tragically passed away, but hopefully his distraught human’s trauma will lead to other pet owners avoiding the sadness.
Medical professionals supported Taylor’s warnings. Dr. Jeff Werber, a practiced veterinarian, educated the Inside Edition on the subject of saltwater poisoning. “Saltwater can be very dangerous for dogs,” he revealed. “And the problem is, it’s something most people don’t even know about.”
As Taylor found out, saltwater poisoning can occur very quickly. But if you’re aware of the issue, there are symptoms to look out for. “You might find your dog vomiting at first, and having diarrhea because of the extra fluid build-up,” Werber elaborated.
The doctor continued, “Ultimately, you’ll start seeing almost like a sign of them being light-headed. They’ll be dizzy, they might shiver and shake.” Another veterinarian, Dr. Katy Meyer, who works for Tampa Bay Emergency Veterinary Services, concurs with Dr. Werber.
Dr. Meyer warned pet owners to be cautious in an interview with WFLA. “Things can come on gradually, and you’re not aware of how serious things are up front,” she said. So if the saltwater affects your pet’s brain, seek help immediately.
And Dr. Meyer says that you should spend a maximum of two hours at the beach with your dog. In addition, take a break every half an hour to provide pets with an abundance of fresh water. A little extra caution could save you a world of heartache.