Just as we don’t want to drink the water from a lake (or ocean), it isn’t a good idea for dogs to either. Lake water can contain algae that can be harmful to dogs when ingested, and the salt content of saltwater can cause salt poisoning if too much is ingested. It can take as little as a few swallows of contaminated lake water to make a dog sick if the wrong algae is present.
Around here, there are hundreds of lakes, and any time I have been to a beach where dogs are present, I don’t recall seeing a water bowl. Yes, dogs will eat almost anything and drink almost anything too… part of being a conscientious owner is remembering we need to protect them from themselves just as much as the world around them.
Salt poisoning can be very serious for dogs. Symptoms include:
- Lethargy – acting super tired
- Excessive urination
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of appetite
- Fluid accumulation inside the body
- Tremors or seizures
Some of the signs of salt poisoning may not show up until several days after the dog was exposed to the increased salt, so monitor your dog carefully after any beach outing.
As there are so many different types of contaminants that could be in lake water, it’s hard to give a specific symptom list, but any of the above symptoms should make you want to take your dog to see their veterinarian.
There are certain measures that can be taken as a dog owner to prevent your dog getting ill from drinking or being around water that isn’t suitable:
First, and foremost, ALWAYS have freshwater available for your pet in a bowl. If it isn’t out where they can get to it, when they are done running like a crazy they’re going to head right down to the water and drink their fill. It’s easiest to always have a bowl and a couple of bottles of water in the back of your car, this way it will always be available.
Second, make sure that the water where you are going to be spending time with your pet isn’t hazardous, both for your dog’s sake as well as your own. Just as a dog can get sick from lake water with the wrong algae, humans can too.
Third, when you’re done with water activities with your dog make sure to wash them off with fresh, clean water. After doing so, dry them off with a clean towel. This will prevent your dog from having anything stay in their coat or on their skin.
We should never avoid going out and having fun with our dogs, but we should always make sure to look out for their well-being. A little fresh water can go a long way to ensuring your dog is going to be able to come for many more family trips to the beach.
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