Are ponds safe for dogs? Even though pooches love swimming and splashing around in ponds, the blue-green algae found in them could seriously jeopardize our dogs’ health.
These clusters of cyanobacteria could poison a dog and even be lethal in some cases.
Our pets can easily ingest them by drinking some of the pond water or even licking their fur once they come out.
Usually, the symptoms of poisoning become evident in mere hours, with some appearing within 15 minutes.
If left untreated, death is practically unavoidable and happens quickly.
As such, letting dogs swim around in ponds is generally not recommended, and any slimy, stinky ponds of a strange color should be avoided — the risk is too high.
Are Ponds Safe for Dogs? My Safe Guide
The sun is finally shining, and it’s time to go outside and have some fun.
Most of us love spending time near the water in the summer, and if oceans are nowhere nearby, ponds and lakes are a great alternative.
But are ponds safe for dogs, or should we avoid them to maintain our furry friends’ overall well-being? You’re about to find out!
Now, I don’t know about you, but my dogs absolutely love swimming.
Even the smallest of the bunch will always try to keep itself afloat so as not to miss out on any of the action.
However, after digging deep online and reading some rather disturbing stories about dogs getting sick after swimming in ponds, I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Ponds Aren’t Safe For Dogs
If you’ve been looking to spend some time in a cottage by a pond this summer and would like to bring your pet along, stop right there!
Are ponds safe for dogs? My research actually says that they usually are not.
The main reason ponds aren’t so healthy to swim in, neither for you nor your pet, is the variety of algae that can bloom in them.
Namely, though there are a few safe kinds that can show up on the surface of the pond, some algae, like the blue-green variety, can be extremely toxic.
Blue-Green Algae 101
Blue-green algae is actually a cluster of bacteria called cyanobacteria that often blooms on top of a pond in hot weather.
It resembles scum, which might even discourage you from approaching the pond.
However, the appearance of the algae is the least of your concerns; it’s what they can do that should worry you.
Namely, cyanobacteria are known for emitting cyanotoxins.
When there’s a high concentration of these toxins, they can actually be quite poisonous to both humans and animals.
The most common cyanotoxins are:
- Anatoxin-a group
The effects of these toxins can range from mild to severe, depending on their concentration.
If humans are exposed to them, they can experience a range of symptoms, including:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Dry cough and sore throat
- Abdominal pain
- Numbness and drowsiness
- Incoherent speech
- Respiratory paralysis
How Blue-Green Algae Can Endanger Our Pets
It’s evident that this sort of algae could seriously harm a grown person, so you can only imagine what it can do to our dogs.
Seeing as dogs love swimming and are likely to spend a lot of time in the pond, they may even drink from it a bit.
Alternatively, they may try to clean themselves off once they get out of the water. If they lick their fur, there’s a good chance they’ll ingest the algae.
The symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in dogs quickly become evident, with some dogs experiencing them about 15 minutes after exposure.
- Difficulty breathing and walking
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Excessive salivation and thirst
- Skin or mucous membrane irritation.
If the concentration of the algae is simply too high for the dog to handle, death may occur mere hours after exposure.
Another factor worth pointing out here is that some dogs simply aren’t good at swimming and are more likely to drown than working breeds that have been bred to love water.
Such dogs include smaller ones, like Corgis and Dachshunds, but even some bigger ones, like Boxers and Chow Chows.
Most of these dogs have a problem with their legs, i.e., they’re too short and chunky.
Some have shorter muzzles and flat faces too, which prevents them from breathing properly while swimming.
Of course, these breeds may still love swimming despite their general characteristics.
If you have one of them, I do suggest getting your dog a life vest to ensure its safety.
Still, I’d advise against visiting the local ponds either way.
The algae don’t really care about the breed or its shortcomings. They can kill any dog, no matter how big or small!
Keeping Your Pooch Safe Around Your Backyard Pond
Those formed naturally clearly aren’t because they contain all that algae, right? So, the ones we have in our backyards should be perfectly fine.
Well, not really.
Even if we’re talking about artificial ponds, there’s always a risk that blue-green algae will form on top and that your pup will ingest some of the water.
In fact, algae, in general, can bloom even in your pooch’s water bowl if you keep it outside all year round.
Still, if you have a backyard pond and don’t want to give it up, there are some things you could do to prevent your pup from playing in it or drinking from it:
Keep an Eye on the Dog
Obviously, if the dog is always near you and you can see what it’s doing at all times, it’s unlikely that it will be so tempted to get near the pond.
Even if it does, though, you’ll be ready to act fast.
Put Up a Fence
The easiest way to keep your dog away from the pond is to build a fence around it.
Granted, this only works if you have a smaller breed, like the Chihuahua, for instance.
If you have a big dog, you may have to train it to avoid the pond.
Get a Pond Cover Net
If you have some fish in the pond, that might be what’s drawing your pup to it.
Dogs are curious by nature, so they may want to play with the fish or even eat them.
In that case, a pond cover net would protect the pond’s fauna.
Besides that, it should prevent leaves from falling into it, and herons won’t be able to approach it either.
Distract the Dog
Finally, one of the best ways to prevent the dog from splashing around in the pond is to distract it.
Whether that means you’ll get a bunch of dog toys or run around with your dog, it’s up to you.
Just make sure you’re not playing near the pond!
How to Keep Your Dog Safe When Playing in a Pond
If you still want to let your dog enjoy itself in a pond and play as much as its little heart desires, I cannot stop you.
You ought to be a responsible pet owner, so I’m sure that you will check for any clusters of algae.
But if you decide to let your dog swim in a pond, make sure you’ve taken all the precautions and know how to keep your pooch safe.
In general, you should:
- Get your furry friend a life jacket, especially if it belongs to one of the anti-swimming breeds.
- Find a clean part of the pond, where there are no algae. Don’t just focus on the greenish bluish hue of cyanobacteria. Any sort of algae could be poisonous, and you cannot really tell if it will harm your dog based on the color alone.
- Keep the playing and swimming at a minimum if you have a small breed. These little guys get tired quite fast, and their short legs may give up at some point. That could be a drowning hazard, especially if we forget to get the life jackets!
Before letting the dog into the pond, you should also take off its flea collar.
The water is likely to wash off the active ingredients, so it will be worthless afterward.
Once the dog gets out, remember to clean out its ears thoroughly to avoid an infection.
Also, rinse out its fur. You don’t want any contaminants to stay on the coat, as the dog may ingest them later!
Ponds Safe for Dogs – Final Thoughts
So, are ponds safe for dogs, or should they be avoided?
I know that I don’t let my dogs near them because I’m afraid for their health.
I’ve read and heard many stories about dogs getting sick right after playing in ponds, and I just don’t want them to become a part of those statistics.
Besides, there are other ways to help dogs cool off in the summer or just have some watery fun.
Paddling pools, sprinklers, water balloons — all of those don’t really carry any risks and should entertain the dog for hours on end!