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I have a question, perhaps a stupid one, but I would like to know.

A friend I work with told me about a park fairly close to me that she said few people seemed to know about. So, last Sunday evening, I took Rocky and met her at this park. We walked around for a bit and saw very few people and/or other dogs. We did come upon a man standing on a little bridge watching his black Lab playing in the water flowing by. The water was moving pretty good (not the swept away kind of water) and I wanted to let Rocky in, but I hesitated and did not. Why? Because I am a little paranoid about Rocky catching some kind of germs and getting sick. There were no signs posted that I saw warning you not to let your pets swim and the water did not appear to be dirty to the naked eye.

The other little park near me is frequented by lots of people and dogs and that water does not move much. There are signs posted there that say you let your animals swim at their own risk. I am not sure if that is just to free themselves of any liability or if they have some reason to suspect that it is not a good idea. Looking at it, the water does not appear to be dirty, but who knows?

So, those of you who live near bodies of water, are there any criteria you use to make the decision to let your dog swim? I know I am probably being overprotective, so just tell me so if you think I am.
 

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If it's a stagnant standing body of water, I would not let my dogs swim in it. Especially if there are plenty of water fowl that frequent it. In warm/temperate areas, there are parasitic amoebas to be cautious of. Swimmers itch is caused by parasites not being able to complete their life cycle, so the cysts die and make you itchy. Not dangerous by any means, but very, very annoying. So fresh lake water, or fresh river water is something I'm not worried about given it's quite clean.

If it's free-flowing fresh water, I base it on whether or not it's safe for people to swim in. I grew up in a place where a river would claim lives every year. Where I live currently, there is a fast flowing river with shallow parts. I feel safe taking my dog to the shallow parts given that she is on a long line and attached to a harness. She loves water and doesn't understand that it can be dangerous to go deep, so I keep a watchful eye on her. I have a 33' leash that I attach to the harness when I want to take her in it.

I think the signs are to remove any liability of a dog drowning. We've had people in our city let their dogs swim in the river, and there have been many sad tales of dogs too weak or small to fight the current when it's strong and being swept away and drowning from exhaustion.
 

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I am the opposite of you (and for what it’s worth have never had a dog get sick from a swimming hole). If the water is moving, it’s pretty much OK by me. If possible I avoid the small shallow seasonal ponds at our local regional parks - but sometimes the mutts spot them before I do.... and naturally any spots with visible pollution are avoided.

There was a toxic blue algae scare here a few years back (news stories and warning signs).... in some of the areas I had frequented with my dogs and we still weren’t affected. That said... with that information I chose not to take any risks and discontinued going until cleared.

I like rivers and lakes a lot. But most often mine are in the salty bay.
 

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There is a website where you can register for blue algae updates in your state. If I come across it, I will post it. I prefer to take them to the river in the summer to prevent all this. BTW: took Griff to the river for the first time and he even held on to a fetched ball when he found himself swimming!
 

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If you have the name of the pond, lake etc, you can do a quick search to see if gov or town water quality tests have been done and reported. I do this a lot.

My basic concern is algae blooms and if the state or town tests for it.

This link provides water quality info for lakes and ponds in NH. https://www.nhlakesrealty.com/lakes-info/water-quality/

"Lake Quality in the NH Lakes Region

COLOR (Water Clarity): Clear 0-25 / Light Tea-Color 25-40 / Tea Color 40-75

PLANTS Sparse growth SG few emergent plants, Scattered SP small patches or shoreline growth, Common plants CP around the shoreline, abundant AG shoreline growth with thick surface patches visible, very abundant VG 1/2 the surface area covered

TROPHIC CLASS is a designation of a lake or pond according to algae production, rooted plant growth, water clarity and bottom dissolved oxygen levels

OLIGO - Minimal Support for algal blooms or rooted plant growth ( Oligotrophic - best water quality )
MESO- Moderate Support ( Mesotrophic - ok )
EUTRO- High Support ( Eutrophic - not good )

Water level ph, phosphorus, and alkalinity are available upon request "

This is just an example of the type of info that may be available n your area. I believe the trophic classification is standard. A quick call to the town may give you the info you want.
 

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Sad state of affairs to even have to ask this question. We should be far better care takers of our water sources than we have been. Can you contact the area dept of ecology and ask them?
 

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If I would swim in the water I would let my dogs swim in it. I like water to be clean and clear.
I’m not do not like rivers and ponds much for swimming. Oceans and bays has its own hazards so to each their own.
 

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Blue-green algae is a legitimate concern, do some reading and see if it's in your area.

Other than that, I'm pretty free with letting my dogs swim in lakes and rivers and ponds. Rivers can be more dangerous, and if you don't know what the current and drop offs are like, I'd be careful how far out you throw a toy. Natural rivers have a cut (bank) side, and a fill (sand/silt) side. The channel will hug the cut side, and that's where you'll find the fastest and strongest current, and the steep drop-offs. When I swim the dogs on big rivers, I only swim them on the fill/sandbar side, out of the channel.
 

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This page has a link to a national interactive map showing currently reported algae blooms:
https://www.ewg.org/toxicalgalblooms/#map

I let my dogs swim in Colorado mountain lakes -- cool water from snow melt. The worst they can get from that water is giardia, and there are no predators living in that water that might kill my dogs.

I don't let them swim in any naturally occurring water in the Gulf region. Aside from highly aggressive, venomous water moccasins and alligators (even in the city), the microbes are the most terrifying -- pythium, blue-green algae, flesh eating amoeba...there's stuff in that warm water that's very deadly. (This is also why my dogs don't go kayaking with us in bayous.)

Swamp cancer is probably pythium. It's a very, very common microbe that water carries from plant leaves into bodies of water. It's everywhere. They don't know why only some dogs get sick from ingesting it -- a hundred dog dogs could swim or drink, and maybe one will get infected (and probably die). There's a researcher (professor) at the LSU vet school who specializes in it, and one of my vets worked with her while a student -- it's a very mysterious ailment. Our rescue lost an alumnus to it, after his person took him swimming in a pond in a popular park where lots of people swim their dogs. A year earlier, that same pond water caused another dog I know to go into seizures, and only prompt vet care saved her -- they had to load a seizing, 85-pound dog into the SUV and floor it to the nearest clinic. They never figured out what caused it, but there were several other reports that week out of the same pond. I've been arguing for years that the pond should be filled in.


Here's some reading on pythium, with a list of the states where it's been found:
http://pythiosis.com/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_multi_pythiosis
 

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I’m not very knowledgeable in regard to things like water born diseases and I’m not someone who knows a great deal about GSDs But I am someone who knows a great deal about water safety and when I saw these two words MOVING WATER I decided to write a few words of caution relating to moving water but instead of words I’ve provided this link:

https://www.recreation.gov/marketing.do?goto=acm/Explore_And_More/exploreArticles/water-safety-rivers-and-streams.htm

Here’s where I’m probably going to get my head chopped off by some GSD forum members.


There are breeds of dogs that are built for swimming ie Labs and I don’t know the names of those other water dogs that have coats that deflect water and other breed specific stuff that makes them better acclimated to water.

Im gonna go out on a limb and politely say, GSDs are not built for swimming (but that doesn’t mean they can’t swim). The GSD coat sops up water like a sponge (a wet coat is heavy to drag through the water) and their body is more muscle than Fat. Fat is buoyant and muscle is not. Carrying extra weight through the water causes fatigue and fatigue is one of the causes of drowning deaths. Most GSDs can swim and most enjoy swimming but I’d call them sprinters as opposed to long distant swimmers. GSDs are smart. They know when to take a break. They know when to rest.

Just my 2 cents
oops forgot to say, Safety First
 

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We have to be care during the summer at Lake Erie, in Ohio near Toledo, the alge blooms in late summer have been bad. Our dogs mostly swim in Michigan, and have never had a problem. We do use a life jacket on Tess, she'll wear herself out swimming. Della just likes to wade and lay in the shallows. They swim in Superior, Michigan, inland lakes, and smaller creeks and rivers.
 

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I've only had my dogs get sick once from water, and that was when the fell through thin ice during the spring thaw, and took a dousing in a beaver pond. I'm pretty sure it was giardia they picked up, as it's quite common for beaver to carry it.

Ranger literally painted the walls in the living room - there was poop on my VCR and TV screen, as well as 4 feet up one of the walls. As I was cleaning it up, Star came into the room, and began heaving. Lucky for me, I was able to get her to the tile floor before she vomited! :sick:
 

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My both dogs are in the water usually before I even see any river/lake/puddle! If it's wet, it pasts all their requirements for suitable play place. I won't get a say if it's suitable for them or not. :grin2:

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Anyway, if you're planning on a swimming, I recommend reading some advices/articles how to save a drowning dog. I was twice in that situation. Once it was easy, because the dog was fully unconscious and under the water. But once it was bad. Because it was conscious and in a full panic mode. Extremely submissive and people loving dog. But once drowning, he caught my hand and mauled my palm very badly. I couldn't move it for a week. And to this day if I fully open that palm, I can feel tension inside.

I would recommend reading how to get a dog safely from the water. And maybe some basics of dog CPR. It might not be even your dog, somebody else's etc.
 

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This is sad. I guess I am lucky to live in a place I don't worry much about water quality, we live over one of the biggest, most profitable aquifers in the nation. I guess it is better than when rivers ran red with pollutants and would light on fire. Thank you Clean Water Act.

I have heard horror stories of dogs being gutted by beavers, so if we see a beaver in the water, I call my dogs in and we leave. Few activities better for a nice summer day than finding a quiet lake and throwing the toys for the dogs while swimming myself.

Hope you can find a good place to swim Rocky!
 

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We have several flood control drainage ponds near our house. Not moving water but they get flushed out pretty well with every heavy rain and there full of fish. I let the pup swim almost everyday until about Mid July and august when they start getting algae. We have lots of geese in the spring and fall and she has never had an issue with swimmers itch. I'm not sure if the Frontline or heartworm preventative contributes to the issue or that I always hose her off as soon as we get home.

First time we took the pup to lake Michigan she spent an hour chasing and biting waves (until she vomited a pile of sand she had swallowed with the water). She likes to wade more than swim, until we put her floatation vest on. She seems to know what it's for because once it's on she isn't hesitant at all about going into deep water. Michigan can have some weird rip currents so a vest is a good idea anyway. She will even swim along side for a 1/4 mile when we go kayaking. We put double life jackets on her when we are going to be father from shore and it keeps her head above the waves. I learned to not let her get too tired because hauling 80 pounds of dead weight into a kayak is no easy chore.
 

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Besides the water quality, be aware about some of the dangers in natural water/streams;
1. (sharp) objects under water. Once when the levels were low I saw a rusty barrel. My dog swam there earlier in the year....
2. take off the collar to prevent getting hooked onto branches or something else for that matter.
3. long stems of water lilies where a dog can get tangled up in.
4. rocks and other objects in the shallows when they run toward the deep water.

Please add to the list.
 
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