What Diseases Can Dogs Get From Water?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock

Nothing beats taking a dip in the cool, refreshing water when the temperatures skyrocket – and your dog knows it. Most pooches will take any chance to take a splash, be it in a pool, a river, or a small pond. However, not all water sources are safe for our canine companions to swim in or drink from. Contaminated water can harbor a variety of pathogens, and it can potentially lead to serious illnesses. That’s why all dog owners should be familiar with the dangers that grimy water brings – here’s what you need to know.

What Diseases Can Dogs Get From Water?

In the dog days of summer, your pooch will seek out any chance to quickly cool off, and drinking or taking a swim in cool water is the best way to do so. A swimming pool, the river, the pond, or even the sea – most doggos find these bodies of water irresistible for a quick dip or a little sip. But these waters are not always safe. The bacteria that they possibly carry can lead to all sorts of very serious illnesses that affect our canine friends. Here are just a few of the most common ones:

#1 Leptospirosis

This is a bacterial infection caused by the Leptospira bacteria species. Dogs can contract this disease by drinking, swimming in, or coming into contact with water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, and jaundice. In severe cases, it can lead to kidney or liver failure, and even death. Vaccination and avoiding stagnant and dirty water sources are key preventive measures.

#2 Giardiasis

This illness is caused by Giardia, a protozoan parasite. Dogs typically become infected by ingesting water contaminated with feces from infected animals. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration. While not usually fatal, giardiasis can cause significant discomfort and requires treatment with specific anti-parasitic medications. Good hygiene and clean water sources are essential to prevent this infection. Don’t take a dip just anywhere!

#3 Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by Cryptosporidium, another protozoan parasite. Dogs contract cryptosporidiosis through ingestion of contaminated water or food. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. The disease is often self-limiting but can be severe in puppies or dogs with compromised immune systems.


#4 Blastomycosis

Blastomycosis is a fungal infection caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis. Dogs can contract it by inhaling spores from contaminated soil or water, particularly in areas with moist, decaying organic matter. Symptoms include coughing, fever, weight loss, and skin lesions. Early diagnosis and antifungal treatment are crucial for recovery. Avoiding known endemic areas can reduce the risk of infection.

In order to avoid these water-borne diseases, all owners are advised to take necessary precautions. Naturally, you will want to avoid all suspicious bodies of water and prevent your pet from getting close or taking a swim. These include swamps, stagnant pools, visibly dirty water, forest ponds, and so on. Next, always provide clean drinking water. Fail to do so, and your pet will often try to drink from random pools. To make things easier when you are out and about, carry a special portable dog water bowl filled with fresh, drinkable water. That way you can rest assured that when your pooch is hydrating on a hike, he’s drinking only the safe stuff.

Alternatively, if you are camping for a few days or want to make sure that a certain body of water is safe for swimming, you can also get a water test kit, which can tell you if it contains bacteria, or other potentially dangerous substances, such as hydrogen sulfide.

Of course, one of the best precautionary methods you can take is regular vaccination. Don’t skimp on the vet visits and inform yourself of all the vaccines needed to keep your pooch as safe as possible from these water-borne illnesses.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

More by Angela Vuckovic