Dogs and Water: Safety Precautions

Water: Some dogs love it and others won’t even put their feet in it. Whether your pooch is the kind who is inexplicably drawn to its refreshing fun or one who only likes water in bowl, water safety is important for every owner to know.

Parasites and Bacteria

Stagnant water, from lakes and ponds to puddles are a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria. Parasites including giardia and cryptosporidium are among the most common and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in the healthiest of dogs. Because of their weaker immune systems, puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to parasites and can be affected even more severely.

Whether you and your furry friend are going for a swim or just on a walk after it rains, keep your dog from drinking stagnant water to help prevent sickness. If your dog displays signs of lethargy or begins vomiting, contact their vet immediately to begin antibiotic treatments. For active swimmers, seasonal stool examinations should be considered for the detection of bacterial infections and parasites.


Toxic algae can show up in lakes, ponds and the ocean, often emitting a sour smell. This algae has been found in areas across the country in a variety of colors ranging from red to green and brown. Most frequently appearing when water is warm in the late summer and fall, symptoms of algae poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and motor weakness. Avoid areas covered in algae and keep your dog from drinking water from an algae-covered body of water.

Water Intoxication

Dogs that love to splash around and play in fresh water are also at risk for water intoxication. When a dog drinks too much water the amount of sodium in their blood becomes diluted and the extra water causes swelling in cells throughout the body, as well as the brain. Nausea and vomiting are common signs of this condition, along with excessive salivation and glazed eyes. Watch your dog as they enjoy their time in the water and be sure to provide them with land breaks to decrease the risk of water intoxication.

Salt Water Poisoning

While salt water poisoning isn’t something we have to worry about here in Colorado, it is important to keep in mind if you plan to bring your pooch on your next ocean vacation. Salt water is toxic to both dogs and humans if ingested in large quantities and can cause diarrhea, dehydration and even seizures. Bring a bowl and plenty of fresh water to the beach for your pup and bring them in from the surf if they try to lap the whole ocean up.

Whether you are interested in testing a stool sample for parasites or are experiencing signs of illness in your dog after a swim, call Powell Veterinary Service at 970-352-9164. Our Colorado office provides emergency and wellness care for dogs and cats.