The Top Five Water Hazards For Dogs

June 27, 2022

The sun is shining, the air is warm, you’re out for a walk and the water is the perfect spot for your pup to have a quick swim to cool down.  But like everything for a dog owner, a million things run through your mind trying to figure out if it’s safe to do so.  We’ve put together our top five hazards around water for dogs to help you stay safe on your adventures. 

1) Blue/Green Algae - when in doubt, just stay out!       

You’ve likely spotted a story on social media highlighting the risk of blue/green algae.  Before long, you start wondering if it’s easy to notice and could you inadvertently let your dog swim in it.  

But, blue/green algae is exactly that.  When it is present in water, there is an unmistakable hue.  It thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water and will form “blooms.”  These blooms produce cyanotoxins which are harmful to both humans and animals.  When ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory distress, weakness, lethargy and seizures.  It can also be fatal.  

If you are concerned there is blue/green algae present, just keep out of the water.  There are a number of safe algae found in water sources, but these are green/yellow in colour and will be found with good water clarity.  Blue/green algae is often found in water where there is a film or scum like appearance.  Country parks and alike sometimes have warnings up, or their websites will identify any recent blooms so it can always be worth checking sources before heading out for the day. 

2) Water Intoxication

Aside from the assumed risk of drowning in water, for dogs who play and retrieve a lot in water there is also the risk of water intoxication.  This is when your dog has ingested far too much water for their body to handle.  

Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy and abdominal distention.  Further symptoms include weakness, coma, seizures and ataxia.

Prevention is key, so be mindful if your dog swallows water when they are retrieving and keep their time in the water to a moderate level.    

3) Too much salt?

If you are at the beach, you may instinctively think that your dog can just drink the sea water if they get thirsty.  

Unfortunately, drinking large amounts of saltwater can actually be fatal to a dog.  

In small amounts, you may just see some irregular bowel movements.  When a dog drinks salt water, in order to counteract the salt content, water is drawn to the intestines which results in diarrhoea and vomiting.  

In high quantities however, the cells in the body release their water content to help counteract, which can cause brain injuries, kidney issues and severe dehydration.  

Again, prevention is key so, if you are heading to the beach, take some freshwater for your dog to drink and watch for them having a sneaky drink in the sea!

4) Rip tides – in a very general sense!

Whilst you may not be at the beach, we’re talking about all bodies of water that may have fast and strong currents.  

It could be a rip at the beach or simply a fast-flowing section of river.  Before you let your dog venture into any water, watch it for a few minutes.  Watch the flow, watch for any white water as this will help you figure out any underlying currents.  You need to be sure the water is safe for your dog and that they are capable of swimming in it.  Smaller dogs or less able dogs may struggle with even the slightest of currents, so again, when in doubt, just stay out! 

5)   Waterborne illness!

If our dog finds his way into a stagnant pool of water, most of us will be watching for vomiting or diarrhoea for the next few days.  Be mindful if their symptoms are severe and always seek veterinary attention if you are concerned.  But there is a risk of illness from any pool of water, so, practice healthy swimming. 

-    Opt for fresh and flowing water where possible. 

-    Don’t allow your dog to drink from the water source, provide fresh filtered water from home. 

-    Rinse them off when you get home to remove any harmful pathogens from their coat.

-    Watch for any changes in health or behaviour over the next couple of days. 

Here at My Pet Nutritionist we want to support your journey of raising a happy and healthy pet.  Please check out our services to learn more. 

Thanks for reading, 

MPN Team

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