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How Does Tainted Water Affect Pets?

Many people drink bottled water or filtered water from the refrigerator while your cat, dog or other pet’s water bowl is filled from the tap. Why should our furry (or scaly) companions drink lower quality water than us? First, it was the people of Flint that were found to have been tainted by lead. The area’s toxic water is the source of this potentially fatal contamination. Now, there are dogs that live in the vicinity of the Michigan city that have tested positive for lead toxicity. These are the first two pets that are confirmed with this in state records in five years.

We all know that public water systems can contain certain levels of bacteria, which is why we are drinking the “safe” water. Still, many continue to fill pet bowls with tap water. Animals, like humans, need water to survive. Most veterinarians will agree that pets should be given the same quality water as humans. Many municipal and well water areas can contain many harmful things, including parasites.  Many parasites do not discriminate between pets and people!

Tap water can pose risks if it is high in iron, magnesium, lead or nitrates. These contaminants can cause health issues for your family as well as your pet. It is challenging to diagnose dogs with lead toxicity because it can cause a wide range of symptoms, from gastrointestinal upset to weakness and seizures. Many of the symptoms can imitate those of other illnesses, so lead toxicity is very hard to diagnose. It is recommended to keep an eye on your pet’s routine to help pinpoint if something is wrong. You know your pet the best and you will be the first to know if they are acting strange or their behavior has changed.

                Parasites are a more common side effect of unhealthy water. One of these parasites is Giardia, a single-celled organism that ends up living in the mucous lining of the intestines. This is also known as “Montezuma’s Revenge” that many pick up when traveling to countries with lack of safe water. Giardia is transmitted by discharges of fecal wastes into water, food, soil, and other surfaces. This parasite causes severe and sometimes bloody diarrhea in animals as well as humans. If a puppy or kitten is suffering malnutrition, the effects of Giardia can be worse.

                Fish and other aquatic figures can be greatly affected by water with high levels of any substance or chemicals used in some treatment plants. A certain pH value is needed in tank water for fish to have a proper living environment. Also, poor quality water can be more prone to ‘bad’ algae. Check with us for specifics on how high lead levels can affect our water-bound friends.

                Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center in Carleton, we know that most of our readers do not reside in the Flint area and that tainted water is not a problem for them now. We want to ensure that should this ever happen in our community in the future that pet owners are aware of the side effects and different steps they can take to keep our pets safe. We recommend that whatever type of water you are using for yourself and your family, that you do the same for your pets. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 734-782-2827.

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: