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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Own Animal Care/Rescue Org.
Category: Dog
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Experience:  We rescue what others leave behind; Animal Care author; Behavior & Nutrition Consults
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can dogs get sick from drinking lake water

Resolved Question:

I'm dog sitting a dog for the weekend. I took it near a lake with my kids for about two hours and let it run free. At some point I know it drank some lake water.My wife think's the dog is acting strange tonight. It seems rather tired and unresponsive to affectionate action. Don't know if this is normal for this dog or not. Took it outside and it seems to be active and physically ok.
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 10 years ago.

There is a potential for reaction to something in the water, typically it's algae or contamination from another animal.

Keep a close eye on her tonight. If you notice bloat/abdominal swelling, loss of balance, vomiting/diarrhea (especially with tinges of blood), increasing lethargy, fever or discoloration of gums (especially turning yellowish or very pale) - call your vet and explain what happened.

I'd have the dog checked come Monday anyway - have a blood panel done at the very least. There's always the potential for exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

How is she acting now?



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Customer: replied 10 years ago.
She's sleeping right now. I live in Nebraska. This past spring there was some dogs that after drinking from area lakes. I'm just wondering, if my dog drank from a contaminated lake, how long does it take for her to get sick. Do you know if these dogs that died, did it happen immediately, or was it something that took some time?
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 10 years ago.

VERY good question. I was just discussing this with someone earlier today.

My advice then as it is now - take the dog in for a blood panel and liver function this week. There are some toxins that present with initial symptoms, often of vomiting, lethargy, excessive water intake, drooling or any number of other behaviors that raise a sense of urgency - and then, in a day or two, seem to resolve. Owners think everything is fine - the dog acts perfectly normal. Then, anywhere from a week to even a couple months later - symptoms present that don't alleviate and by the time the diagnosis is made, there's liver damage or even failure.

I'm not at all saying this is what is happening with your companion and I really don't want to scare you, but I truly believe in erring on the side of caution.

If your pet was exposed to anything toxic or a bad bacteria, etc., I'd expect much more reaction than what you describe (ie: vomiting probably the most common).

Since you didn't see any algae ( pond scum) - it's another good sign. Also, as long as the water was moving and not stagnant, another very, very good sign.

I do not know of any dogs that have succumbed to lake water immediately without a very public announcement on t.v., radio and postings .

Just watch her for now and keep the vet's number handy in case of complications. Without symptoms, call to schedule an appointment on Monday for this upcoming week.

Is she resting comfortably?