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The Local Bark

Garden hose: Fun and games or dangerous?

lab_playing_with_hose.jpgDoes your dog love to “attack” the garden hose? Or the sprinklers? Although this might look fun and harmless, the opposite is actually true.

When dogs play with water, even when swimming in a lake or pool, they can inhale the water and potentially develop “aspiration pneumonia,” a condition caused when water gets into the lungs. If the water contains bacteria or protozoa it can spread quickly and cause a serious infection, often life threatening.

Some dogs may be more prone to aspirating water, such as brachycephalic dogs (smooshed-faced breeds such as English Bulldog, Boston terrier, Pug), or dogs with nerve or muscle disorders.

According to Blue Ravine Animal Hospital’s Jennifer Sweet, DVM, you should contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows symptoms of troubled or noisy breathing, increased respiratory effort, depression, lethargy, or loss of appetite.


“Aspiration pneumonia can be life threatening, but is usually successfully treated if diagnosed quickly,” she said.

 

What to look for:

• If your dog coughs, gags or regurgitates water after playing, he may have aspirated some of it.

• Watch for signs of troubled or noisy breathing, depression, loss of appetite, and a blue tint to the lips and gums within 24-48 hours after exposure to water.

 

How to avoid it:

• Employ safety measures to keep your dog from falling in a swimming pool or hot tub.

• Use a safety vest on a dog that is just learning to swim or can’t keep his mouth above water. Dogs will often bite at or drink copious amounts of water until they get the hang of swimming.

• Don’t allow your dog to take long drinks out of the swimming pool; the improper posture they must use can cause them to aspirate water.

• Don’t allow your dog to play with hoses, sprinklers, faucets or any other pressurized water source.

• Manage your dog’s time in the water and give him lots of breaks.

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