BY EMILY HESSE, FREELANCER
Year after year, animals of all kinds are being transported to veterinary clinics to deal with nightmare situations that leave pet owners scratching their heads.
Sometimes, nothing is more troublesome or frustrating than when our canine friends get a little mischievous and curious and end up getting themselves into unhealthy situations. These unfortunate circumstances cause us to wonder how these instances can be treated and how they can be prevented from happening again.
The following list will break down some of the most common hazards dogs, and even humans, have to look out for in the water.
Be sure to check your dog after each swim, make sure he or she is properly vaccinated, and know where the nearest animal hospital is in case something goes wrong during what was supposed to be a fun day out with your dog.
Bacteria, Viruses & Fungi
Water-born bacterial and fungal infections are the biggest problem to look out for when letting your dog play in different bodies of water. Although standing water tends to pose a higher risk for curating bacteria, river edges are known to store some of those creepy-crawlies as well. One serious fungal disease of animals that could potentially be transmitted to humans by way of open wounds is called blastomycosis. Three forms of illness that can derive from blastomycosis can affect the lungs, skin and total body.
Illness can develop 5 to 12 weeks after infection. One way to prevent this disease is by rinsing all the algae off your pet. Blasto spores kick up, and that’s how contamination happens. Systemic fungal disease and leptospirosis are also spread from the outdoors, especially environments with water.
Distemper vaccines can be given to prevent against leptospirosis, which is the standing water disease. Such exposure to infected bodies of water can give dogs seasonal allergies, ear infections and skin issues.
Another reason why dogs and humans alike need to be careful in water environments is pollution. It’s sad to admit, but especially in city environments, pollution can really bring down natural habitats and all its inhabitants.
Broken glass, garbage, plastic or metal shards can be hiding at the bottom of our local rivers and lakes, and you’ll never know it or see it until stepping on it. Stepping on trash not only causes serious pain, but it can cause different infections that are life threatening. A way to prevent this from happening is by using trash bins provided all around cities and parks instead of tossing trash on the ground. And if you see trash on the ground or in the water from someone else, go the extra mile to pick it up and protect yourself and those around you.
Sometimes there are nasty, sharp and dirty objects scattered around that can’t be prevented. These are natural elements such as sharp rocks and sticks under the water. Also, fast-moving rapids in rivers and strong waves in big bodies of water can threaten the safety of your dog as it goes out to fetch a stick you threw. Be as knowledgeable as you can about the kind of water you are dealing with and how to go about a situation in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, some injuries are near impossible to prevent, but many others are just one wise decision away from saving the day.
Ah yes, the creepy-crawlies that always seemed to be lurking within every lake you swam in as a kid growing up in Wisconsin. Leeches are known to cling onto any part of skin that is exposed in their underwater environment. It’s common to find them latched onto your feet and inbetween your toes, but leeches also enjoy sucking the blood of your canine pal. Leeches that swell up from being left unnoticed can cause infections.
Zebra mussels are invasive species that can cause issues for our animal friends. Sometimes, due to the exposure of infected waters, dogs will get them on their feet. One way to prevent zebra mussels is to properly maintain beaches by raking. People also need to be conscious and clean off their boats.