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The temperature’s rising, and as summer enters full swing there’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the water. 

Anyone who owns a dog who has allergies knows how frustrating it can be. Allergies are not cured, but managed. Making the correct diagnosis and using a multi-faceted approach to treatment can usually help the affected dog be much more comfortable.


Leptospirosis is a common waterborne disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira. Many strains of Leptospira are found worldwide, but it is most usually found in warm areas with high rainfall. The bacteria can infect both humans and dogs, though is more common in dogs. Dogs at highest risk are those who routinely swim in stagnant bodies of water, rivers, lakes, and streams. Infection usually occurs when a mucous membrane or cut comes into contact with contaminated urine or water.


With a nickname like “swamp cancer,” you know it’s nothing good. Pythiosis is a rare but severe waterborne disease caused by a fungal-like organism called Pythium insidiosum. While more commonly known as a disease of plants, pythiosis can also infect animals—with terrible results.

Found in warmer climates with plenty of standing water, pythiosis is most commonly seen in the Gulf States (TX, LA, FL, MS, AL), southeast Asia, and South American. 

Blue-Green Algae

Freshwater lakes and ponds are highly inviting to a water-loving dog, but beware of bodies of water with a dense buildup of blue-green algae. Under specific environmental conditions, most often during the summer months, photosynthetic bacteria can build up—a condition known as a blue-green algae harmful algal bloom (HAB). These algae can produce toxins with severe effects on pets and people.

Algal toxins come in a variety of forms and can affect any of the following systems: skin, GI tract, liver, and central nervous system.


One of several microscopic parasites known to cause diarrhea in both dogs and humans, Giardia lamblia is an organism many dog owners are familiar with. Infected animals shed oocysts in their stool, which are hardy and can persist a long time in cool, moist environments, where they can then pass into water sources and back into a host.

Long known to be a cause of traveler’s diarrhea in humans, Giardia also causes a sudden onset of diarrhea in dogs. While both humans and dogs can be infected, it is not considered a major zoonotic disease as most human cases are caused by other humans, and is not normally passed from dogs to people.

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