Waterborne Pathogens that Put Your Pet at Risk

Waterborne Pathogens that Put Your Pet at Risk

Imagine a sunny day, your furry friend romping through the park, splashing in a puddle, or taking a drink from a nearby stream. While these moments bring you both joy, they can also pose unseen risks. Understanding waterborne pathogens and the dangers they present is crucial for pet owners. By being informed, you can take steps to keep your pet safe and healthy.

Common Waterborne Pathogens


Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes giardiasis, a gastrointestinal infection. Pets can be exposed by ingesting contaminated water from lakes, rivers, or puddles. Symptoms in pets include diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. Although treatable, giardiasis can lead to severe dehydration if not addressed promptly.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects both pets and humans. It is commonly found in stagnant water contaminated by the urine of infected wild animals. Pets infected with leptospirosis may show signs of fever, vomiting, and muscle pain. In severe cases, it can lead to liver and kidney failure, making early detection and treatment vital.


Algae, or cyanobacteria, is found in freshwater lakes and ponds, particularly during warm weather. These algae produce toxins harmful to pets. Exposure can occur through drinking the water, ingesting water during a swim, or licking their fur after swimming. Algae poisoning can be fatal if not treated immediately. Symptoms can come on quickly and may include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, and seizures.


Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria that thrives in wet environments like puddles, streams, and improperly maintained water bowls. This pathogen can cause infections of the ear, skin, and urinary tract. Symptoms vary depending on the infection site but often include redness, discharge, and discomfort.

Ways Pets Can Be Exposed

Drinking from Natural Sources

Pets often drink from rivers, lakes, and puddles, not realizing these water sources can be contaminated with harmful pathogens. It’s essential to discourage this behavior.

Boarding and Grooming

Boarding facilities and grooming salons can inadvertently expose your pet to waterborne pathogens, especially if hygiene standards are not strictly followed. Choose reputable establishments known for their cleanliness and proper sanitation practices.

Outdoor Activities

Activities like hiking, camping, and swimming can increase the risk of exposure to waterborne pathogens. Always supervise your pet around natural water sources, and avoid allowing them to drink from or swim in stagnant or unfamiliar water bodies.

Prevention and Protection

Waterborne pathogens pose significant risks to our beloved pets. Minimize these dangers by following the proactive measures below. For more personalized advice, consider booking a consultation with your veterinarian, who can help tailor preventive measures to your pet’s needs.

Provide Clean Water

Always ensure your pet has access to clean, fresh water. Carry a portable water bowl and bottled water during outdoor activities, and discourage your pet from drinking from natural water sources.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your pet’s health and catch any potential issues early. Vaccinations, such as those for leptospirosis, can provide additional protection.

Practice Good Hygiene

Choose boarding and grooming facilities with high hygiene standards. Regularly clean your pet’s living environment, including their water bowl and bedding.

Supervise Outdoor Activities

Keep a close eye on your pet during outdoor adventures. Avoid letting them swim in or drink from stagnant or unfamiliar water sources. If your pet does enter natural water, rinse them off thoroughly afterward with fresh water.

Your Pets are our Priority!

At the National Animal Supplement Council, our top priority is to promote the health and well-being of your pets. That’s why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal: to help you identify animal health and nutritional supplements from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products on the market. Visit our website to learn more and see a list of companies and brands awarded the NASC Quality Seal.