Should Dogs Drink Pond Water?

by Deborah Lundin
    In addition to drinking pond water, swimming poses a similar risk.

    In addition to drinking pond water, swimming poses a similar risk.

    David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Having water available for your favorite pooch at all times is important, so when you are out for a hike and come across a small pond, you decide to stop and let him take a quick drink. Stop right there. While your pooch will get a drink of water, he may drink down much more and end up very sick.

    Ponds or Stagnant Water

    While stopping at a pond for Fido to take a quick drink may seem like a good idea, many ponds or other small bodies of stagnant water are home to various waterborne parasites and algae that can make him sick. Depending on the exposure, symptoms can range from mild diarrhea to kidney failure and death.

    Giardia

    Giardia intestinalis is a parasite that spreads through feces from animals infected. In bodies of water, giardia can survive for up to three months, depending on water temperatures. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, nausea and vomiting. Once infected, your dog can then spread the parasite through his feces. Giardia can affect humans as well. There is a vaccine that prevents giardia from passing in the feces, but it doesn’t protect your dog from the infection.

    Coccidia

    Coccidia is another feces-transmitted organism that causes watery diarrhea with mucus. As the infection worsens, blood may be present. If left untreated, it can permanently damage your dog’s intestinal tract. Puppies with underdeveloped immune systems are more susceptible.

    Leptospira

    Leptospira is a bacterium that thrives in warm, stagnant water. Infection begins with a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and muscle pain. If untreated, it can lead to liver damage and kidney failure. While your dog may receive a vaccination for lepto at his annual checkup, the vaccination targets only specific strains. Infection is still possible if your dog drinks pond water.

    Blue-Green Algae

    If the pond you are walking past has bright colored foam or a layer of pond scum, stay clear. Blue-green algae contains cyanobacteria, which can be fatal. Symptoms include diarrhea, numbness, difficulty breathing, skin irritation and heart problems. Life-threatening conditions can develop as quickly as four hours.

    Considerations

    When walking for long distances or on hot days, consider bringing a bottle of water for your dog. This will quench his thirst and help avoid the pond water temptation. Note that freestanding puddles can also pass these parasites and bacteria. In addition to keeping him from drinking the water, use caution if you have a water dog who enjoys swimming. When he licks his fur, he can ingest those same nasty bugs. If you suspect a possible infection, seek veterinary care immediately.

    Photo Credits

    • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Deborah Lundin has worked as a professional writer since 2005, though writing has always been a passion. She brings a background in health and fitness, veterinary care, professional cooking and parenting. She studied medical laboratory science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Sites published on include Yahoo, Physorg and MedicalXPress.

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