Those first spring walks of the season are a welcomed change, no more shivering or walking through deep snow and thankfully no more ice to slip on. Pretty soon it will be nice enough to head outdoors without a big heavy coat and your dog will be able to run on the fresh green grass. But it’s important to remember that every season has its hazards and so being mindful while walking your dog in any season is a must.
Spring is known for its rain, and when you mix lots of rain with lots of melting snow, you get some serious puddles. Big puddles are unavoidable this time of year so there’s no sense trying to dodge them, but you should never let your dog drink from a puddle.
Your dog should only drink clean water from a tap or bottle. Never from the ground. If you don’t know where the water came from you also don’t know what kind of contaminants could be polluting the water. Drinking puddles, especially during spring, is a no go.
Here are the three most common puddle contaminants that could harm your dog this spring.
Giardiasis is an infection that affects your dog’s intestines and can give your dog bad diarrhea as well as cause weight loss and vomiting.
The best way to avoid contracting giardiasis is by keeping an eye on what your dog is drinking when they’re outdoors. Not all dog owners clean up after their dog, it’s rude, but it happens, especially in winter. So when the snow starts to melt all sorts of surprises are uncovered, especially in popular squat spots near poles or on trails. As the snow melts and reveals all the thawing dog poop, puddles start to form, and feces remnants can leach into these puddles.
These remnants can contaminate the water in the puddle with giardia without effecting the look of the water. So unlike some other contaminants, giardiasis can be present in water that looks clean. So a good rule to go by is, no drinking from puddles.
While anti-freeze is very useful for clearing and de-icing our windshields, it is extremely toxic and if consumed by a dog it can be lethal.
The reason anti-freeze is particularly dangerous has a lot to do with its application. Anti-freeze is simply sprayed onto our windshields from tiny nozzles on the hoods of our cars, and a lot of it actually ends up running onto the ground. So during the freezing winter months when you have every car spraying their windshield several times a day, that’s a lot of anti-freeze runoff.
The other thing to consider is anti-freeze, well, uh, doesn’t freeze. So unlike water anti-freeze will form puddles, even on cold days. But in the spring, when everything is melting, it’s really tough to distinguish an anti-freeze puddle from a water puddle.
The best way to avoid this toxic substance is to make sure your dog gets enough water before and after your walk, to keep them from getting thirsty during their walk. That way they’re not tempted to take a sip.
The good news is motor oil is a lot easier to see than anti-freeze, the bad news is that it’s all over the street and just as bad for your dog.
Have you ever walked by a puddle and seen a rainbow-like reflection in the water? That rainbow effect is actually sunlight glistening off of motor oil. Yuck!
Cars leak oil, even new cars, and it’s really tough to keep this pollutant off the road. In spring, when all the snow melts and water washes through the streets, it collects all the gross road gunk, like motor oil, that has been sitting on the road all winter. This is not stuff that you want your dog to be drinking, so if you see a puddle, try to keep a good distance.
Puddles are everywhere in spring, so they can be tough to avoid but if you’re vigilant and you keep an eye on your dog while you walk, you can keep them safe and enjoy the fresh spring weather, worry-free.