What to know before letting your pup swim in a pool or lake this summer

It’s the summertime and if your dog loves the water, you may let them jump into the family pool or follow you into a local swimming hole — but doing so comes with risks that pet owners should know about.

With pools, the chemicals used to treat the water can be problematic, according to veterinarian Dr. Cinthia Fabretti with Montgomery Animal Hospital in Rockville, Maryland.

“If they drink that water, it can cause some stomach problems,” Fabretti said.

She said the best way to keep your pet healthy while allowing for that dip in the pool is to try to keep them from drinking the water. She also said you need to know when the pool was last treated with chemicals.

“I would avoid allowing the dogs to jump in a pool that was just treated when the smell is very strong,” Fabretti said.

Pools are not the only spots for dog swims. You may choose lakes, ponds or streams, and while she doesn’t discourage swimming in those bodies of water either, she said you need to know the risks of illness that come with outdoor watering holes.

“The risk, you know, increases when they (the dog) share the same body of water as other, let’s say farm animals and wildlife,” Fabretti said.

She recommends before letting them jump in, make sure your pets are current on their vaccines, including leptospirosis, a potentially deadly disease for a dog that comes from the urine of wild animals, such as infected rodents, getting into the water.

Fabretti said other parasites and illness can also get passed through a dog ingesting water, so during the swimming months, more frequent fecal testing for parasites can also be beneficial, she said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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