Keeping your dog safe and healthy is always a priority, and the best way to do this is by staying cautious and informed!
When exploring outdoors, your dog may see a puddle or body of standing water on the side of the street or in the park, perhaps a small stream in the woods and try to drink from it. Unknown outdoor water sources are often home to a variety of contaminates that you do not want your dog ingesting, including parasites, disease, and toxic algae.
A thirsty dog will drink water from wherever it can find it, and this is why it is so important for you to bring clean drinking water for both yourself and your pup anytime your dog goes outside for a walk or hike.
Below are some of the most common contaminants to be aware and cautious of:
Leptospirosis is a disease frequently contracted by dogs through drinking standing water that has been contaminated with infected urine. Many animals carry Lepto, including raccoons, mice, and rats to name a few. While the Lepto vaccine is one of the core DHLPP vaccinations, there are over 200 variations of the Leptospirosis disease, and vaccination does not always prevent infection. Leptospirosis symptoms come on slow, and usually present as lethargy and increased thirst, and if the disease develops it can lead to liver or kidney failure.
Giardia is a parasite that can affect both dogs and people. To become infected, a dog will have to ingest it by drinking water that has been contaminated with feces or eating something (like grass) that has been in direct contact with feces. Not every dog immediately shows signs of infection, and it transmits easily from dog to dog. The most common symptom is diarrhea, followed by weight loss, vomiting, and dehydration. If you suspect your dog may be infected with Giardia, it is important to thoroughly clean up after them and schedule a visit to the vet to get checked. The most important steps you can take for preventing giardia is to only let your dog drink from clean water sources, and limit their exposure to places where there may be large amounts of dogs and feces.
Algae Poisoning is extremely dangerous, and also very preventable. Blue-green algae is most likely to thrive in bodies of fresh water when the weather is warm and sunny, and water containing toxic algae blooms will often appear green and/or with a slimy green film on the surface. These organisms are incredibly toxic and dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from or even swim in contaminated water sources. If blue-green algae is ingested, it can cause severe neurological or liver damage, and ultimately death. Some state and national parks where dogs are allowed will put up signs if these toxic blue-green algae blooms are present, so when possible, check before you go!