"Good News" Magazine Aug '17 PP issue to publish online - Page 8

- PET HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS - Waterborne Risks and Illnesses It's a favorite activity among many dog owners, especially for those with water-loving pups like labs, retrievers, spaniels, and newfies - taking your best friend along for a swim in a lake or river. But there are more than a few risks to be aware of before doing so, to hopefully prevent an awesome adventure from turning into a potential tragedy. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't swim in the body of water, your dog shouldn't either. Many lakes and rivers harbor dangerous organisms that can cause extreme illness, or possibly even be fatal for your pet. While the most obvious risk is drowng (have your dog wear a life jacket!), be aware of the following, and be sure to visit your vet and mention water exposure if your pet exhibits any signs of water-borne illness. Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a common waterborne disease that can infect both humans and dogs, though it's much more common in dogs. At highest risk are dogs that often swim in stagnant bodies of water, rivers, lakes, and streams. Symptoms of infection include fever, vomiting, jaundice, shivering, mus- cle aches, changes in urination, and kidney failure. The disease can be life-threatening if it is not treated, but responds well to antibiotics if caught early. Blue Green Algae: Avoid bodies of water that are covered with algae. Particular types of algae can be very toxic and have severe effects on people and animals, such as nausea, vomiting, respiratory failure, seizures, rashes, and possibly even death. Giardiasis: A well-known cause of travelers' diarrhea in people, these organisms can also affect dogs in a similar way. A severe case could cause dehydration and weight loss if infections last for a long period of time, but most cases of Giardia are mild and respond well to medication. Cryptosporidiosis: Another illness caused by a parasite, this is one of the nastier waterborne diseases, and can cross-infect humans. One of the most common waterborne diseases linked to recreational water, this parasite is tough to kill, even resisting chlorine disinfectants. Dogs are infected by ingesting contam- inated food or water. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration. Fortu- nately, with dogs, the illness usually subsides within a couple of weeks, if properly treated. Pseudomonas: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common organism associated with chronic ear infections - otitis externa - in dogs. and is frequently found in water, including pools. Smelly ears, shak- ing heads, scratching the ear canals, discharge, and painful swelling accompany this infection, which is treated topically with antibacterial, corticosteroid, anti-yeast, and antiseptic drops. In severe cases, oral antibiotics and antifungals may be prescribed. Pesticides: Unfortunately, many of our lakes and rivers are contaminated with high amounts of hazard- ous chemicals, such as pesticides. Dogs who routinely drink from toxic bodies of water can slowly poison themselves over a period of time, especially affecting their kidneys and liver. Always bring along fresh water on trips with your pets, and discourage them from drinking from lakes, rivers, or even puddles. 6 Pawsitively Pets -- August