Pets, especially dogs, will drink from whatever water source they are near. If they can drink from your toilet what harm can come to them if they drink from lakes, rivers, puddles or oceans?
Just because most of the time they will show no harmful effects of drinking from other sources of water does not mean that you should let them do it. Many parasites live in rivers and streams as well as other bodies of water. These parasites can kill your pet within a few hours.
It is always best to have a fresh water supply with you when you take your pet for a walk. Puddles on the ground can contain very harmful bacteria, parasites, and chemicals. The rule to follow here is that if you won't drink from that source of water you should not let your pets drink from it either.
Let's examine some of the risks that are present if you let your dog drink from another source of water instead of that from a faucet in your house.
The first big risk for any pet that drinks from unclean sources of water is that of developing a bacterial infection. This often occurs when a dog drinks water that is contaminated with animal and human waste. Of all the different types of bacterial infection that an animal may contract the four major types of infection come from bacteria of the species salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, and Leptospira.
Mild cases of infection by these and other bacteria will usually lead to the animal developing a bad case of diarrhea. Severe infection can, and often do, lead to death of the animal.
It is also possible for humans to contract the infection from animals when they dispose of the animal's wastes or when they come into contact where the animal has urinated.
The next major risk area involves the blue-green algae. This type of algae produces toxins which are very harmful to animals as well as humans. The two types of toxins they produce are microcystins and anatoxins.
The first toxin will result in liver failure while the second will attack the nervous system resulting in paralysis and eventually death of the animal if not treated immediately.
The next area of danger are the parasites that are often found in water. Especially stagnant pools of water.
Two particular types of parasites are of concern here. These are the protozoans Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Both of these parasites will cause diarrhea in the animal. If not treated this type of infection can cause severe dehydration in the animal and possible death.
These protozoans are usually not a danger to humans. However, if your immune system is low, because of AIDS or some other immuno-compromising disease, you may also become infected and risk death.
A big problem with outdoor sources of water is that of chemical pollution. And that translates to your dog becoming poisoned when they drink these polluted waters. The major culprits here are gasoline and oil that leaks from outboard motors and into the water. Both are highly toxic to animals and many dogs die each years as a result of drinking chemically polluted water.
Also, when it rains there is runoff from the surrounding land. This runoff will often contain lethal levels of pesticides and herbicides. This will eventually enter the water and remain near the shore for a few days. Drinking these chemicals will make your dog very ill. High levels of pesticides will kill the animal.
The final thing that is of concern is when an animal drinks water from the ocean. As you know, this water source contains a lot of salt.
When an animal drinks salt water in large quantities they will become dehydrated. This is a serious condition in animals if not treated quickly. Dogs that drink salty ocean water may also develop diarrhea which can speed up the dehydration process and place the animal's life in danger.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe
There is only one way to keep your dog safe from contracting and illness from contaminated water. Carry a portable bowl and b ring along plenty of water for yourself and the dog. You can even find portable water bowls which also have a water bottle attached to it so that you can leave it out for the animal while you are in the park or just taking a break from a lengthy hike with your dog.
And remember, it is the responsibility of all pet owners to make sure that their pets have plenty of water at all times. All pets should understand and obey the word "No."