Colorado Hiking: 3 Water Sources Your Dog Should Avoid

Water Sources Your Dog Should Avoid When Hiking

Image by fxxu from Pixabay

As you hit the trails this summer, keep your dog safe from potentially contaminated water sources.

It may be tempting to count on natural sources of water for your dog in order to minimize the weight of your pack. But there are three water sources you should never let your dog drink from or swim in!

Would you know whether a natural water source on the trails is ok for your dog to drink? Or even to swim in to cool down? Often, unforeseen dangers lurk in what appears to be clean, fresh water.

Below are 3 natural sources of water you should avoid with your dog to protect his overall health and safety.

Blue-green Algae is Toxic to Dogs

Image by Stephen Marc from Pixabay

Blue-green algae are a group of bacteria (called cyanobacteria) clumped together in stagnant water. It is typically prevalent during hot weather, but it can occur during other times too.

These bacteria can also be present in the water even if they are not clumped together and easily visible. While not all blue-green algae may be harmful, you can’t tell by just looking at it.

Blue-green algae looks like:
• Scum;
• Green flakes;
• Greenish bundles;
• Pea soup;
• Brown dots; or
• Foam on the edges of ponds and lakes (from the blooms of the bacteria).

Drinking toxic blue-green algae is usually fatal in just 15 to 60 minutes. Even if it’s not fatal, it can cost long-term health issues for your dog after swimming in its presence.

So always keep your dog leashed around any standing water to ensure their safety! It’s not worth the risk especially without critical, life-saving veterinarian help nearby.

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

(P.S. Blue-green algae is also toxic to cats; and children and adults causing skin rashes, sickness, stomach pains, liver and brain damage, fever and headaches.)

Water with Dead Fish, Human Trash and Animal Waste

Image by José Manuel de Laá from Pixabay

Lakes and ponds containing the blue-green algae bacteria can kill any fish. Always steer your dog clear of these bodies of water and never let them drink from this water or try to eat the dead fish, animal waste or human trash left behind. During the decomposition process, dangerous (and often invisible) toxins and poisons are released in the water./

Stagnant Water

When there is little rainfall or movement in a body of standing water, dangerous viruses, fungi and even mold grow at a dangerous rate.

Parasites like coccidia (affecting puppies) and giardia contaminate stagnant water and ingestion can cause serious forms of canine diarrhea with watery, bloody and soft stools.

Stagnant water can also be contaminated with a bacterial infection known as leptospirosis which causes irreparable damage to the K9 kidneys.

“Next to antifreeze exposure, lepto is one of the most life-threatening diseases we deal with,” says IndyVet veterinarian Tracey Gillespie.

Always plan and prepare for outdoor hikes with your four-legged best friend. Never assume you’ll find clean, uncontaminated water for your dog to drink and cool off in.

Train – and condition – your dog to carry a dog backpack so you’ll both have plenty of fresh, clean water to stay well-hydrated (and safe) on the trails!


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Additional Reading:

1. Blue-green Algae and its Dangers to Dogs www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/blue-green-algae-and-its-dangers-dogs

2. 7 Types of Water that can Make Your Dog Sick www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/7-types-water-can-make-your-dog-sick

3. Giardia in Dogs vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/giardia-in-dogs

4. A Dog Owner’s Guide to Water Sources for Pets www.johnsonwater.com/a-dog-owners-guide-to-water-sources-for-pets/