Are you planning on jumping in an inviting lake as the weather warms? Or letting your dog wade into a shallow river bed during a weekend hike? Before you and your pup freely jump into the water, make sure you are aware of the most common waterborne bacteria and parasites.
Giardia is a parasite that can cause intestinal infections in both humans and animals. Puppies are more prone to infection than older dogs and should have their feces tested at their first vet visit. Antibiotics fortunately exist to rid giardia in dogs.
Giardia is found all over the world and is an extremely common causes of waterborne disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, “the parasites are found in backcountry streams and lakes but also in municipal water supplies, swimming pools, whirlpool spas and wells.” Dogs usually acquire giardia after drinking contaminated water or coming in contact with another animal’s infected feces.
Always provide clean drinking water and never allow your dog to get too close to another animal’s feces.
Cryptosporidium is an intestinal microscopic parasite that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, fever and diarrhea in dogs. The parasite is spread via contaminated drinking and recreational water. The CDC confirms “cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States”. It is also a top intestinal parasite affecting dogs.
The CDC confirms that “cryptosporidium parasites are found in every region of the United States and throughout the world. Travelers to developing countries may be at greater risk for infection because of poorer water treatment and food sanitation”. The U.S. population alone sees over 700,000 cases of cryptosporidiosis each year.
Bring clean water for your dog whenever you adventure. This will prevent him from drinking out of dirty pools of water. Additionally, try to prevent your pup from drinking from a communal water source (i.e. a dog bowl outside a store). The crypto parasite can easily be ingested from contaminated water.
Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by waterborne parasitic worms. Dogs can become infected by swimming or wading in contaminated water.
The majority of canine schistosomiasis cases occur in Texas and Louisiana. That said, the Companion Animal Parasite Council reports “cases have been diagnosed in dogs throughout much of the southeastern United States, and infections are also described from dogs as far north as Kansas.”
Dogs in the southeastern part of the United States should avoid ponds, canals, and other waterways with limited flow. Additionally, do your research before letting your pup jump into a body of water, i.e. visit the lake/pond/swimming hole state or government website and review any water alerts or cautions.
A microbacteria that can accumulate in lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water bodies. Under the right settings - stagnant water, sunlight and high water temperatures - cyanobacteria can accumulate rapidly into algal “blooms”. Some of these blooms produce dangerous toxins that can cause liver damage or harm the nervous system.
Cyanobacteria can be found all over the world; it is not specific to one type of climate or region. The bacteria often accumulates in calm areas of lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water bodies and thrives in hot temperatures (for this reason it is most commonly found during the warmer spring, summer and fall months) .
Avoid water that is foamy, scummy, or has a thick blue-green-red film floating on top. Many states publish algal bloom adversaries online, so research a body of water before jumping in. Finally, never allow your pup to drink out of stagnant water, especially if it has blue-green scum floating around the edges. Minimize this risk by always having clean drinking water on hand.
For more in depth details on cyanobacteria, see our recent blog post The Dangers of Blue Green Algae (Dangerous Waters: Part 1)
Leptospira is a bacteria that causes the disease Leptospirosis in humans and animals. Symptoms vary and may not even show up in infected beings. According to the CDC, “without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.”
Leptospira is commonly found in tropical, subtropical and wet environments, but it can technically live anywhere (i.e. it’s been found in stagnant water in New York City). Warm marshes, swamps and stagnant pools are common homes to the bacteria.
Dogs in that frequently swim or play in infected water, soil and mud (particularly in tropical/subtropical climates) are at greatest risk of infection. Avoid letting your pup swim in a body of water unless you are familiar with the area. Also consider the Lepto vaccine. Although the American Veterinary Medical Association does not consider this a “core vaccine” (meaning it is not appropriate for all dogs in all communities), it may make sense for your pup depending on your surrounding environment. Speak to your local vet to learn about the risk of Leptospirosis in your area and if the vaccine is right for your dog.
Pseudomonas is a common bacteria that can cause chronic pseudomonas otitis, or chronic ear infections, in dogs. It can also cause skin infections. The bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics, so veterinarians often have a difficult time treating infected dogs. Dogs with pseudomonas otitis will often display the following symptoms: head shaking or ear scratching, discomfort when ear area is touched, ear inflammation and pain, and discharge from the ear.
Pseudomonas is able to thrive in a number of environments (i.e. water, soil, man-made tools) and is found throughout the world.
According to the AESCA, pseudomonas bacteria can thrive in pools and hot tubs “possibly due to excessive warmth and moisture of the skin causing increased susceptibility to infection”. For this reason, never let your dog play for extended periods of time in pools and hot tubs. Young and old dogs are particularly susceptible to pseudomonas infections given their immature/weak immune systems.
Check out DJANGO's additional resources on water safety for dogs:
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Canine distemper is one of the most common and lethal dog diseases. The airborne virus targets unvaccinated puppies under 6 months old and young adult dogs. While distemper can be prevented through a series of shots, it kills a large majority of unvaccinated puppies and a significant proportion of unvaccinated adult dogs.
What causes distemper in dogs, and how does the virus spread? What are the symptoms of canine distemper, and is your puppy or dog at risk? How effective is the canine distemper vaccine?
Here is everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of distemper in dogs.
Our adorable sausage dog Django recently had back surgery for Intervertebral Disc Disease. Four weeks after Django's surgery, our family moved into a new home with hardwood floors everywhere. Although Django has been recovering nicely after his surgery, his back legs are still wobbly at times, and he tends to slip on smooth surfaces—especially hardwood! Since moving, our goal has been to find top-quality pet products that not only help Django be comfortable in the home but also protect our new floors and furniture.
In addition to looking for a new orthopedic dog bed for Django, I began searching for high quality and nice looking pet blankets for the couch and bed. In my search, I soon discovered Paw.com and the high quality pet products they offer. Paw.com offers modern orthopedic dog beds and matching faux fur waterproof pet blankets, among other original designs. After reading reviews from passionate Paw.com customers, I ordered the PupRug Bundle for Django which includes both Paw.com's memory foam pet bed and faux fur blanket. Django has been obsessed with his bed and blanket ever since we opened our Paw.com boxes!
The following is an honest review and in-depth overview of Paw.com’s PupRug Faux Fur Orthopedic Dog Bed and PupProtector Waterproof Blanket based on our experience with both. If you have any questions about our Paw.com experience or want to share a story of your own, please leave us a comment below!
Does your dog jump for joy when he hits the pool, beach, or anything wet? Maybe he crashes kiddie pools or belly flops into any body of water like our sausage dog Django. Or maybe your dog is downright afraid to dip his paw in the pool. Every canine is unique, and not all are dripping with excitement at the thought of getting wet. Depending on your dog’s breed, personality, and experiences, he might be a natural swimmer or water-shy.
Whether your dog is a seafarer like Django or a landlubber, he needs to learn how to be safe in the water. You might want to catch a wave or backcountry canoe with your dog. Maybe you even have an inflatable kiddie pool or a swimming pool in your backyard. In this DJANGO Dog Blog article, we discuss the best and worst dog breeds for swimming and look at how long your dog can safely stay in the pool. We also explain how to teach your dog to swim and provide water safety tips.