What exactly is “dirty” water? Dirty water is water that has been polluted, either from something being put into it directly or indirectly from a change in the environment. A perfect example of dirty water would be water with lawn chemicals in it, which might be runoff from someone’s lawn or even the runoff from the greens into a water hazard at a golf course. There can be other things in “dirty” water that are not chemicals that can also harm your dog.
We have been having a drought for the last several years here in Minnesota, and this year as in several years past, someone’s dog has died after drinking water that had blue green algae in it. The toxins in blue green algae affect a dog’s neuromuscular system. The toxins are released after there is an algae bloom and the algae begin to die. Depending on the size of the dog and their exposure to the algae the dog could have an immediate reaction or one that can be delayed for up to twelve hours later. Keeping your dog away from any pond or lake with algae in it on a hot summer day is the best way to handle this situation, no matter how much your dog begs you to let them go for a swim.
Dirty water can have other things in it that can be harmful to your dog. Giardia is a microscopic protozoan parasite which comes from water that has been contaminated with feces from other animals. It could come from runoff from any building that houses animals, or even a deer going past a puddle on your favorite trail and stopping to relieve themselves. Giardia can cause your dog to have diarrhea and digestive problemsm, and if not treated could result in your dog losing weight. Your dog may show no symptoms, or may have gas and diarrhea.
Your dog could also get leptospirosis, which is a disease caused by leptospires, a bacterium that is spiral in shape. Dogs get infected by coming in contact with the urine of animals that are already infected. As this can affect wild animals, there are many places in both towns and in rural areas where water may be contaminated. These can include, but are not limited to puddles, streams and lakes. Even a puddle in your fenced back yard, if frequented by wildlife, might be contaminated. The signs for a dog that may be infected vary from dog to dog, but some signs are refusal to eat, severe weakness, depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain.
So how do you keep your dog safe on your walks or rambles through the local park or woods? Plan ahead and make sure to take a canteen or water bottle along for your dog, so that they are not temped to take a drink from water that they should not be sampling. In this way, you will not only be keeping your dog hydrated, you will also be keeping them safe from dirty water.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently
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