Water dangers for pets

Be aware of these common hazards as you venture outside during the warmer months.

Dog in Rainboots
Photo courtesy of OTSPhoto / Adobe Stock

By Cynthia Jessup

Daylight saving time does come with a few perks, such as warm weather and lots of sunshine. To dogs, it means going outside more, enjoying long walks and perhaps meeting a friend or two. With the weather warming up, there are also spring showers. And if flowers are budding, so are mosquito larvae.

Standing Water
Longer walks for dogs means increased water intake, so pet owners need to be wary of standing water. According to Dr. Candy Olson, veterinarian at Greenbriar Animal Hospital, most of those puddles are contaminated. “If dogs are going to play in water, it should be running water,” she says. “Avoid brackish water.”

So what can dogs get from drinking puddles? Most cases of stomach issues when drinking contaminated water—about 75 percent, according Montrose Animal Health Center’s Dr. Nolan Ruben—are due to giardia. “A common side effect of acquiring giardia is nasty diarrhea,” he says. “There is a possibility of getting heart disease from drinking standing water where mosquitoes venture.”

Chemical Runoff
Dogs can regulate their water intake, but when they swallow chemicals, their tongue-lapping goes into overdrive. “We did have a case last year where a dog ate some snow that had the snow-melting chemicals in it,” Dr. Olson says. “The dog drank so much water so quickly its body wasn’t able to flush out its system efficiently. Though it has some stomach problems, the dog is OK.”

This can also occur if residual pesticides from lawn work drains into puddles at the end of the sidewalk or edges of a dog park.

Overexertion
Dogs reach a point during their walks where they have bursts of energy and want to run around, especially if another dog is present. Many urban cities have dog parks where pets and their owners can run around, play fetch and make new friends. So how much fun is too much? “Dogs only cool off when panting; they don’t sweat,” Dr. Olson says. “If they are panting excessively, call it quits. For short-nosed dogs, they will have more trouble breathing because things overlap in their nasal cavity and back of the throat.” So if a dog catches a Frisbee and then decides to sit and gloat about it, don’t take it personally. All good things must come to an end, or at least a break time.

(May 2016)

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