Providing your dog with access to clean drinking water is vital to their health. Since water is readily available to us with the turn of a tap, many owners simply utilize regular tap water to keep their pets properly hydrated. However, since tap water is subject to many different chemical processes to render it safe for consumption, many owners wonder how safe it is for their dogs to drink each day. How safe is tap water for your dog?
How Important is Water to a Dog’s Health?
Just like human beings, a dog’s body is comprised of 75 percent water. Since water is lost through sweating, urinating, and other bodily functions, it must be replaced through regular fluid intake to maintain optimal health. There are many benefits dogs reap from drinking water regularly. These include:
- Transports nutrients to cells
- Protects the nervous system and organs
- Promotes skin elasticity
- Promotes proper digestion
- Moistens the eyes, the nose, and the mouth
- Keeps joints well lubricated
- Establishes and helps maintain the ideal body temperature
- Assists with removal of waste through the liver and kidneys
Is Tap Water Potentially Harmful for Dogs?
The truth is tap water can be hazardous to both human and dog health. Water quality is regularly evaluated to ensure it is safe for drinking and use in common household activities such as bathing, cooking, and the washing of clothes. However, many different harmful substances have been identified in our water supply including lead, arsenic, and microplastics. These ingredients can negatively impact the immune systems of dogs and their owners.
Here are some of the most commonly identified contaminants in tap water:
Though E. coli strikes fear in the heart of most people, it is not always harmful to people and their pets. Dogs that drink water contaminated with E. coli may experience such symptoms as poor appetite, low body temperatures, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, lethargy, and depression.
In excessive amounts, lead can lead to many different serious health problems in dogs. The most common problems associated with long term exposure to lead-based water are seizures, loss of appetite, anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting, blindness, fatigue, and unusual behavior patterns.
While fluoride can be beneficial in limited quantities; when present in large amounts, it can result in damaged kidneys and even death. When water that is heavily contaminated with fluoride is regularly consumed by dogs, it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, muscle weakness, seizures, and drooling. Some believe that fluoride may play a role in the development of cancer in some dogs.
Drinking water contains far less fluoride than items such as toothpaste or dog food.
Chlorine becomes hazardous for dogs when it is present in large amounts and over prolonged periods of time. Tap water is designed to be safe for humans to consume; however, it is important to remember that most dogs are far smaller than people. Most municipalities have strict legislation regarding how much chlorine can be added to a potable water supply. On occasion, tap water my become toxic as a result of byproducts from the chlorine rather than the chlorine itself.
Giardia is a parasite that moves from feces into hosts such as water, dirt, food, or other surfaces. Giardia can be transmitted to both humans and dogs. Its most commonly seen symptom is diarrhea.
Hardness and limescale
Hard water is rich in minerals including both calcium and magnesium. The presence of these minerals can lead to such problems as urine crystals in dogs. Hard water can also be implicated in future issues with stones as well as bladder and urinary tract infections.
The good news is not all tap water will be contaminated with these things. For peace of mind, it is well worth contacting the local water company to request a consumer confidence report. This assessment outlines the quality of the water in the municipality. These tests are conducted at least once annually.
Alternatively, water kits are available for purchase, allowing owners to test their tap water themselves to determine what is in it.
Should You Give Your Dogs Filtered or Bottled Water?
Bottled water is the subject of some controversy. Some bottled waters are taken from reservoirs with naturally occurring aquifers or from springs or underground vessels, and thus, are clean and free from any contaminants. However, this is not always the case. Just as tap water is subject to chemical processes to clean and purify it, so too are many different bottled waters. Some bottled water companies take their water from any fluid source then simply utilize chemical agents to remove any dissolved solids. A lesser known fact is that in some cases, bottled water companies use the same chemicals as the water treatment plants use for tap water.
A local non profit organization undertook a study that evaluated 10 different popular bottled waters to assess their quality. The research indicated that there were 38 contaminants present in total. These pollutants included bacteria, fertilizer, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more.
By comparison, filtered water allows owners greater control over the water they give their dogs. Purchasing a water filter is an effective means to remove additional chemicals or contaminants from the water, making it safer for both dogs and humans to drink.
For families wanting the added protection of a water filter, it is important to select a filter that has been independently tested and proven to be effective at removing the specific contaminants the owner is trying to get rid of. Faucet and under the sink filters are the gold standard in this category.
What Can I Do to Keep My Dog’s Water Clean and Healthy for Them to Drink?
There are a few things that can be done to ensure Fido’s drinking water is as healthy as it can be. Many high quality pet retailers sell pet water fountains. In essence, pet water fountains are water bowls that allow water to freely flow. The water remains fresh and the waterfall type spray encourages dogs to drink heartily. To ensure the most contaminants are removed, a filter can be added to a pet water fountain. Among our favorites are the Pioneer Pet Raindrop Style Drinking Water Fountain and the Petkit Eversweet Smart Fountain.
Another thing that helps to keep pollutants at bay is the regular cleaning of the dog’s water bowl. Sometimes, it is not the water itself that is the problem, but the vessel it is resting in. Cleaning water bowls ensures there is no bacteria growing on their surface that could harm dogs. Experts recommend using steel bowls instead of plastic as plastic bowls may contain harmful chemicals that can leak from the bowls into the dog’s water supply.
How Can Filtered Water Help My Dog?
Filtered water has a lot of benefits to offer our dogs. These include:
Filtered water is clean and more appealing to dogs, encouraging them to drink heartily. When an animal receives adequate hydration, their health improves dramatically. The incidents of urinary tract infections are greatly reduced, and ill pets recover at an accelerated pace.
Filtered water can provide a boost to such systems of the body as the kidneys, the liver, and the dog’s natural immunity.
Reduced tear staining
As a result of drinking water that contains a high percentage of dissolved solids, some dogs will experience tear staining. A switch to filtered water can bring relief from this problem.
Is tap water harmful for your dog? It might be. Get your water tested today, and if need be, pick up a filter to keep contaminants at bay. Fido will thank you for it!