Danger #2: Bacterial Infections
Being in the water more during the summer also means that your dog is at a higher risk of contracting infections from algae and bacteria.
“Lakes, rivers and untreated pools can contain harmful bacteria and other organisms, including blue-green algae, E. coli, salmonella and parasites,” says Dr. Ryan. “When ingested, blue-green algae can lead to liver and nervous system failure. Other bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella, as well as parasites found in lakes or rivers, are troubling because not only do they pose a risk for our dogs, but oftentimes they are zoonotic. That means there is a chance they could be passed from your dog to you.”
Leptospirosis is also a danger to dogs. This bacteria is transmitted by rodent urine and is usually found in stagnant pools of water, from rain puddles to large ponds. Dogs can be exposed by drinking the water, or even by coming into contact with it and licking their fur afterward.
You should also use caution around ocean water. “Large amounts of salt water intake can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances,” explains Dr. Markwalder.
To be safe, Dr. Ryan recommends not allowing your dog to drink water from rivers and lakes, no matter how clean it may appear, and be sure to have a dog bowl and fresh water available instead.
“Also, keep an eye on your dog a few days after trips to the water. Call your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing diarrhea, loss of appetite or lethargy, as this could mean that he ingested harmful bacteria,” says Dr. Ryan.