Jen Walsh was enjoying a perfect day out with her family. She looked on in joy as her little girl played fetch with their beloved pet Hanz, but hours later the dog was dead. As a result, his owner took to social media with a stark warning for others.
Walsh lives in Northern California with her husband and their children. However, in the summer of 2017, their family expanded by one when they adopted a two-year-old schnauzer named Hanz. The dog had originally belonged to Walsh’s neighbor, but Walsh agreed to take him on after the neighbor could no longer look after him.
It didn’t take long for Hanz to settle into his new pack, and a few short months later, the Walsh family treated their recently acquired pet to a day out. The occasion was in aid of Walsh’s nephew’s birthday, but that didn’t mean that Hanz couldn’t join in the fun.
To celebrate, the family had ventured out to a picturesque lake. In footage from the excursion, Hanz can be seen enjoying a game of fetch, retrieving sticks from the water that have been thrown for him by his doting owners.
It was the first time that Walsh had let Hanz to go swimming. However, she had seen him playing in her neighbor’s pond in the past. So she had no qualms about allowing him to enter the lake, especially when he seemed to be having such a good time.
With that in mind, the family’s trip out was shaping up to be a day to remember. And Hanz in particular was having a whale of a time. “He was very active, very excited, chasing the stick, and we were all having fun,” Walsh recalled in a 2017 interview with Inside Edition.
However, less than an hour into the dog’s fun, his demeanor took a worrying turn. All of a sudden, Hanz stopped dead and began shivering in the water. When he made it back to dry land, he worried Walsh by not making any attempt to dry off. “Dogs always shake themselves off when they’re wet,” she said.
Things became even more concerning when Hanz urinated on a bag, something he would never ordinarily do. On top of that, the dog seemed lethargic and was acting “like he was drunk,” Walsh revealed. The worried owner thought that perhaps the pooch was too cold, and she noticed his breathing was ragged and his tongue lolled.
Whatever the matter was, Walsh knew that Hanz needed urgent help, so she bundled him into her car. “We needed to take him to the vet,” she recalled. “At that point, he wasn’t even walking. We carried him.”
But by the time Walsh got Hanz to the vehicle, his breathing had stopped altogether. Her husband administered CPR on the way to the animal hospital, where veterinary staff took over the attempt to revive him. However, they had no luck.
Hanz had died less than an hour after his symptoms had begun. And to make matters worse, his family had no idea what had caused his death. However, vets later revealed that his untimely passing was down to ingesting too much water.
It seemed that as Hanz had enjoyed his game of fetch, he had consumed a dangerous amount of water. He had then developed hyponatremia, a condition characterized by severely low sodium levels in the blood. This in turn caused fatal brain damage, ending Hanz’s short life.
Looking back, Hanz had displayed many of the symptoms of water intoxication including lethargy, loss of coordination and difficulty breathing. Furthermore, the dog’s uncharacteristic peeing episode may have also been a sign, since water intoxication can cause uncontrollable urination.
As can be imagined, Hanz’s shock death devastated Walsh and her family. They just couldn’t fathom how such a special day out had descended into tragedy. “It was awful,” Walsh admitted. “[My daughter] is very traumatized by all this.”
Reacting to the dog’s shock diagnosis, Walsh later said, “You hear about dogs that do swimming competitions and you never hear about that being a concern for them.” But she added, “It can apparently happen to any dog.”
Smaller, more lean dogs with less body fat and those that are energetic are most at risk of water intoxication. However, the condition can also affect young children. More symptoms to look for include glazed eyes, bloating, drooling, seizures and vomiting.
Like many dog owners, Walsh had been completely unaware of the ailment. “If we had known about water intoxication, maybe there would have been something more we could have done to save him,” she said. However, since she couldn’t help her own dog, she was eager to prevent other pets needlessly dying.
After her family’s ordeal, Walsh took to Facebook with stark warning to other pet owners. “Our family is mourning after going to a fun, family event,” she wrote. “This will never happen to us again, but I wish we had been warned of the possibility. It would have saved Hanz’s life. He was the best dog EVER.”
Walsh added, “Please be careful, especially if you have a very fit, energetic, small dog. We all know about chocolate, grapes, and raisins, but this is terrible too, and I want you to know so it doesn’t happen to you. Look it up. 200,000 dogs die of this every year.”
Walsh’s post has since been shared 78,000 times and clocked up 28,000 reactions. Some of the dog owners who saw the warning admitted that they too had never heard of water intoxication. As a result, Hanz’s death may not have been in vain, which brought great comfort to his grieving owners.