During the hot Utah summer we’re currently in, many dogs love nothing more than a dip in a pool, lake, river or any other body of water to cool down. Owners should look for opportunities to allow their dogs to swim if their furry friend enjoys it, but should also be on the lookout for a somewhat common occurrence: Dogs who, while swimming, like to drink too much of the water as well.
At Innovative K9 Academy, we offer several dog obedience training programs, from our puppy training boot camp to group classes, private training sessions and many more. Our training programs feature several areas, including those looking to train out certain behaviors like overconsumption of water during swimming. In this two-part blog series, we’ll begin by looking at some of the health and related risks of water overconsumption for your dog, then dig into some strategies we can offer on how to reduce this behavior.
Risks of Water Overconsumption
In some cases, your dog drinking a bit of pool water every now and then won’t be a big issue, though it should be deterred based on chlorine and several other chemicals. When it becomes a more regular behavior, however, there are several risks, including a condition known as water intoxication – when the dog has consumed more water than can be processed in bodily fluids, which leads to several significant risks.
In saltwater pools or outdoor saltwater areas, excess drinking will lead to similar effects as chlorine, plus diarrhea or electrolyte issues that can be very serious. There may be other toxins or contaminants in local stream or river water, as well, which we’ll dig into below.
Specific Health Factors
The following risks are mostly present in pool water, but can also show up in trace amounts in lakes, rivers, streams and other public sources. They include:
- Simple stomach issues: Particularly in colder water sources that are more prone to upsetting a dog’s stomach.
- Toxins: Many of the chemicals in pool water are risky to a dog’s health, particularly if consumed in large amounts. Such issues may include esophagus irritation due to the chemicals, or a very serious allergic reaction to chemicals in some dogs.
- Microorganisms: In pools, many microorganisms are limited by the chemicals we’ve already mentioned. However, trace amounts of certain ones may remain, including E. coli. In public water areas, on the other hand, such microorganisms are often plentiful and can lead to a number of issues.
- Aspiration: A condition that occurs in the lungs of a dog due to improper posture while drinking water, leading to coughing, gagging and regurgitation, plus potential long-term issues.
Other Water Exposure Concerns
Most issues related to water and health for your dog are regarding consumption, but there are other minor risks as well. Long periods in chlorinated water, for instance, may lead to skin and eye irritation in certain sensitive breeds, plus problems with airways. Dogs who swim a lot may be at risk of more common skin infections, largely due to moist ears (ear infections may also take place).