border collie playing with hose water

Hose water can contain bacteria that may be hazardous to your dog's health.

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Is it safe to let my dog play with the garden hose?

By Greta Inglis Dog Behaviourist | Animal Behaviourist

Published on the

Hose water may be a convenient way to cool your dog off in sunny weather, but have you ever wondered if it’s safe? Here’s what you need to know…

Many dogs love water, and will try to get in on the gardening action when they see the hose. It can be fun to watch them running to catch the droplets, but as owners it's worth considering whether this is safe for your dog. 

There are two elements at play when it comes to answering this question, as both the hose pipe and the water itself may be harmful to your pet. 

Is spraying a dog with a water hose safe? 

While animal experts have been saying that hoses may be harmful for years, you may have wondered if spraying your dog with water is really that dangerous. In small doses, a few drops of water may not be concerning, but it's important to consider the temperature and condition of the water that comes out.

Left in the sun, the water stored in a hose pipe can reach very elevated temperatures, which poses a serious safety hazard to your pet. Very hot water may scald the skin, so playing in this way with your dog is always best avoided. 

Is hose water safe for animals? 

Letting your dog drink water from the garden hose may be convenient, but this doesn't make it safe. Here we take a look at why this is, and alternatives you can try to keep your pet hydrated and happy in warmer weather. 

Garden hose toxicity

Garden hoses can contain lead and other toxins, depending on the type of hose and the type of fittings used. This means certain garden hoses can be harmful to dogs and cats.

If you want to find a pet-friendly option, installing a "safe for drinking" hose is the best way forward.

Do you want to keep your pet cool this summer? Check out our list of the 5 best products to try.

Water intoxication in dogs

Water intoxication happens when your dog drinks too much water, to a degree that causes the body to lose sodium over a quick period of time. Electrolyte levels can drop, which in turn can thin the blood and lead to swelling in the brain. 

It may be rare, but water intoxication can occur if your dog is repeatedly inhaling large quantities of water from the hose. 

If you suspect this may have happened, it's important to watch for signs of loss of coordination, glazed eyes, lethargy and potentially even seizures. If you see any of the above, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Aspiration pneumonia

Dogs that are obsessed with water may try to jump at the sprinkler or put pressure on the hose. This can cause them to inhale the water along with the air that's being pumped out. 

In doing so, your dog could potentially develop aspiration pneumonia, a condition caused when water gets into the lungs. If the water contains bacteria, this can spread quickly around the body. Symptoms include coughing, gagging, loss of appetite and lethargy. 

If your dog is suffering from aspiration pneumonia, they will need medical attention. Particular care should be taken with certain breeds, such as the English Bulldog and the Pug

Learn all about brachycephalic dog breeds

Alternatives to playing with the hose

To avoid any potential risk, it's best to make sure your dog has bowls of fresh, clean drinking water available at all times. 

Given all the possible consequences, hose water is not considered to be safe for dogs, and there are lots of alternatives available. Offering fresh water at all times will satisfy your dog's thirst, and a small pet-friendly paddling pool can offer hours of fun for your four-legged friend. You can offer plenty of outdoor play through fun games, meaning your pet gets to burn off energy, keep cool, and stay safe, all at the same time.

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