Just like young children, dogs love puddles. Not only are they fun places to play, but they are also particularly tempting places to have a quick drink during a long walk.
But puddles can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly, to your dog. Here are the three main dangers of letting your dog drink from the stagnant water in puddles you come across in nature.
Why do dogs prefer puddle water?
Dogs like to drink rainwater because it tastes different to tap water which often contains limescale. The taste of rainwater puddles is more appealing to dogs because rainwater has a smell much more interesting than clean tap water and that makes your dog want to taste it.
Hazardous Number 1: A dangerous illness: Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. The most common infectious agents are the L. icterohæmorrhagiæ and the L. canicola. The micro-organisms are excreted in the urine of infected animals, which represents a contamination hazard for other animals. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or by ingestion of contaminated substances, such as stagnant water.
Not all dogs become ill when exposed to leptospirosis, but for those that do, the consequences can be fatal. Leptospirosis most often causes kidney failure, sometimes liver problems. Symptoms to watch out for are:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the mucous membranes of the mouth and the whites area of the eyes)
If in doubt, make an urgent appointment with your vet who can prescribe antibiotics for your dog. Remember also that the only way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated. However, vaccination does not prevent your dog from being a carrier.
Hazardous Number 2: A contagious disease: Giardiasis
Like Leptospirosis, Giardiasis can be asymptomatic, but in most cases it manifests itself by intestinal symptoms:
- Formless, watery and often yellowish feces
Giardiasis in dogs is caused by a protozoan (single-celled organism) parasite of the digestive tract: Giardia duodenalis. This parasite is present in the form of cysts in the environment. The dog is then contaminated by licking soiled areas (floor, bowls, water, etc.).
Once the diagnosis has been made by the veterinarian, treatment will be given to the dog and to all the other animals in the household because Giardiosis is particularly contagious. In addition to the treatment, the dog's environment must be cleaned to avoid recontamination.
Hazardous Number 3: The invisible enemy: Antifreeze
With the arrival of cold weather, antifreeze is back. The ingestion of ethylene glycol, the antifreeze liquid used in our cars, is potentially fatal for our dogs and must therefore be closely monitored. It is a very serious intoxication, the formation of crystals causes important lesions which destroy the tissues often in an irreversible way. It is therefore advisable never to let your dog drink from a puddle in a car park or near a car.
The main signs of antifreeze poisoning are:
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal gait
If you have the slightest doubt, there is obviously no time to lose. You must consult your veterinarian as a matter of urgency.
How do I stop my dog from drinking water from puddles?
Now you know the dangers of letting your dog drink from puddles but you are not sure how to stop your pooch from drinking water from outdoor sources? Don’t worry, there are a few ways to prevent it.
There are two main reasons why dogs would drink from puddles:
1/ They are thirsty and are looking to drink
The best way to stop your dog from drinking water from puddles is to bring a water bottle with you when out on a long walk. If you see that your dog is about to drink from a puddle, gently turn him away from the puddle and encourage him to drink from his water bottle.
2/ They are curious and the smell of rainwater is appealing
Your dog is probably very curious and intrigued by the smell of puddles. So obviously your dog will go investigate it further and why not, give it a taste. But you know that it could be dangerous for your dog to drink water from any stagnant water.
If you notice your dog is going towards a puddle and starts drinking, gently but firmly pull him away. Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog not to drink from puddles with the “leave it” order. Trust us, if your dog knows he’s going to get a treat if he doesn’t drink from a puddle, the rainwater won’t be as appealing as a yummy treat.
Last but not least, if you have water bowls outside which have been filled by rainwater, don’t let your dog drink from it. Empty the bowl, rinse it off and refill it with fresh water from the tap.