With the rainy season approaching or already upon us in some parts of the country, there are many challenges our dogs face from being scared to go outside during rainfall to the dangers of playing in puddles once the storm passes.
Whenever we go for our walks, Zoey seems to walk out of her way to find the puddles and wade through them. Sometimes she’ll put her snout in the puddles, but most of the time she just likes to dip her paws in and walk through as if to say “I can, so I will.”
But I’ve always wondered… what hidden dangers are lurking in the puddles? Is a simple stroll through the stagnant water harmless or something to deter dogs from? And most importantly is it dangerous for our pups to drink puddle water?
Experts warn us that as fun as it is to watch our dogs splash in the puddles, we need to be cautious of the health hazards.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that thrives in wet climates. Wild animals like deer and rodents and some domesticated farm animals like cows, sheep, and pigs can carry leptospirosis. They aren’t affected by the bacteria, and they pass it into the environment through their urine.
Dogs can contract this bacteria by drinking the water in puddles if the urine from an infected animal is present. Puddles that have formed from rain run off are a common source of this bacteria. Scientists have studied the prevalence of leptospirosis in dogs and found a direct correlation between the amount of rainfall and the number of dogs infected with the bacteria. This means that as the amount of rainfall increases, the cases of leptospirosis in dogs also increases.
The most common side effect of leptospirosis is kidney failure. The symptoms of kidney failure include:
- Loss of appetite
The disease also commonly affects the liver and lungs. The vet diagnoses the disease by testing the blood and urine.
Successful treatment for the disease includes antibiotic medication and fluids.
If you live in a rainy area and can’t realistically be with your dog 24/7 while he explores outside, the vaccine is a good precaution for you to take to prevent your dog from becoming infected with the disease.
Giardia is a microscopic organism that lives in the intestines of domestic and wild animals that are shed into the environment through their feces and readily contaminate water in the environment. These are the same organisms that require humans to drink filtered water. Experts found in 2012 that dogs that frequent dog parks are more likely to have Giardia.
The most common symptom of Giardia is diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will diagnose Giardia by taking a stool sample for testing. To get rid of Giardia in a dog’s intestinal tract, there are multiple medications that work. The two most common are:
If one of your dogs is diagnosed with Giardia, the vet will probably advise that all of the dogs in your household be treated because it is highly contagious between dogs and can be transmitted to other species including cats and people.
Antifreeze in Puddles
It only takes a very tiny amount of Antifreeze to have devastating consequences on your dog. Ethylene glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze and causes irreversible kidney failure. Antifreeze used to have a sweet taste which made it appealing to dogs and children. In 2012 manufacturers were required to add a bitter taste to antifreeze to help prevent ingestion. However, it only takes a small amount of antifreeze to infect your dog, and she may not notice the bitter taste of it when it’s mixed in a large puddle. Antifreeze is commonly found in puddles because it leaks from the undercarriage of cars.
Symptoms of Kidney Failure From Antifreeze
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of Poison From Antifreeze
Your vet will make a diagnosis using your pet’s previous medical history, urine and blood testing, and possibly a kidney biopsy. The horrible reality is that no matter what aggressive therapy the vet tries, most dogs that are poisoned from antifreeze can’t survive.
Advice For You And Your Dog Concerning Puddles
We definitely don’t want you to avoid taking your dog outside after it rains, keep her on a short leash, or keep her inside after reading this article. The best thing you can do after reading this is become aware of the symptoms and be conscious about your dog’s health condition after your dog has been around puddles. The easiest way to help avoid antifreeze poison is to avoid puddles that have formed near parking lots and parked cars. If you follow that general rule, your dog should be just fine! And if you are going for a long walk or hike, bring a portable bowl and some fresh drinking water so your dog doesn’t feel desperate to drink from puddles.
Does your dog like to drink from puddles? And have you ever experienced complications?