Contaminated water poses health issue for dogs, doctors say

ATLANTA — Lakes and rivers are tempting for dogs on these hot summer days, but as we head into late summer, you may want to think twice about letting your dog enter certain bodies of water.

On Wednesday, Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon learned why you should take a closer look before letting your dog get into the water.

Most dogs love getting in the water. It brings them joy, but doctors say it could also make them sick.

To keep your dogs safe, it is as simple as taking a look at the water.

Margaret Watkins says her dog isn’t interested in getting in the water, but she has seen other dogs who enjoy it.

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“As a responsible dog owner, you have to be aware. If the water doesn’t look clean for you, it’s not clean for your dog either,” Watkins said. “He’s very dainty. he doesn’t even like to get his feet wet.”

If your dog is one to go straight for the water, take a pause, according to Dr. Kevin Winkler, veterinarian surgeon and medical director for Blue Pearl Hospital. Winkler says dogs can suffer from some of the same dangers in freshwater as people.

“The most common thing we see is a bacteria called Leptospirosis. It’s one that can cause kidney and liver failure,” Winkler said.

It is found in a lot of water and is spread by feces from wildlife, pets, and cattle.

“It’s not different from when they get in the trash, vomiting, diarrhea, the diarrhea might have blood in it,” Winkler said.

Your dog’s gums might turn yellow, or its urine could turn orange.


“Those are all indications of liver failure, and that’s something you definitely want to seek attention for right away,” Winkler said.

The risks are not limited to swimming. If your dog drinks from the contaminated water, they’re exposed to anything infectious or toxic in the water.

Watkins says when out for a walk, she takes her own water for her dog, Murphy, to drink.

“I have the cutest little canteen that has the little attached dog dish,” Watkins said.

The quality of the water is the biggest thing to consider while outdoors with your dog. The murkier it looks, the more likely it is to be contaminated.

Pay attention to the environment your dog is in. If you see a change in your dog in the subsequent 24 -48 hours after spending time outdoors, get them checked out by a veterinarian.

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