Chestermere lakes water quality is tested by Chestermere Public Works weekly from May to October, or when the water levels are high. The water is only tested at the 4 beach areas in Chestermere. The water quality is tested for the safety of humans swimming in the lake, and as per Gord Brookhouse at the Public Works department, there has yet to be an issue with safety so far. In fact for the past 2 years there has even been a triathlon (a swim/bike/run race) with the swimming portion held in Chestermere lake.
When it comes to dogs however, there are a few more things to consider:
First is that many dogs will not only swim in the water but will also drink the water. The water is not considered suitable for consumption. So if you choose to allow your dog to swim in the lake, do bring fresh water along with you and encourage them to drink frequently, and discourage them from drinking the lake water.
Secondly, most dogs are very furry, and have nice floppy ears! When the lake water settles into the fur and the dog is not bathed and thoroughly dried after swimming, you have some potential for trouble.
Yeast can grow wherever moisture remains. Ears and in-between the toes seem to be perfect places for this to happen. To avoid this problem, give your dog a very good bath after his swim, and dry him well. To get those ears dry, a cotton cosmetic pad swiped in the ear works very well to absorb any excess water that a towel may leave behind, this cotton pad can also be patted in-between the toes. Symptoms of a yeast infection include discharge, odor, redness or swelling, crusting of the skin, hair loss or hair discoloration, head shaking, scratching, and licking between toes. Treatment by your veterinarian will be required.
There are also other organisms living in the water that if left in your dogs fur after swimming can cause skin rash, or that your dog may ingest when he licks his fur to clean himself. Again, if your dog drinks the water, he may also ingest these organisms. Of most concern are bacteria like E. Coli, Salmonella, Leptospira, Campylobacter, cyanobacteria like Blue-green algae, protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and single-celled organisms like Coccidia. All of these generally cause diarrhea and sometimes vomiting with the exception of Leptospira (which is rare) which starts with fever and then progresses to liver and kidney damage. Some of these are also transmissible to people. The majority are treatable in healthy dogs, with a good prognosis with treatment.
With all that being said, swimming is a great form of exercise for many dogs. We are lucky to have Chestermere lake right in town to take advantage of for our recreational enjoyment. Just be sure to swim safe and have fun! If your dog does become sick after swimming in the lake or at any time, or if you have any questions, please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic (403) 272-3573 or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.
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Green Brier Emergency Animal Hospital. Whats in the pond water? Water-borne parasites. Green Brier Emergency Animal Hospital. Web November 21, 2012. http://www.greenbrier-emergency.com/blog/2010/whats-in-the-pond-water-water-borne-parasites/
Nieves, Samuel. Water Borne Diseases in Dogs. Dog Geekz Dog Blog. Web November 21, 2012. http://blog.doggeekz.com/water-borne-diseases-in-dogs/
Stein, E. John. Water Borne Illnesses in Dogs, what kind of diseases can your dog get from swimming in lakes, streams, ponds or rivers? The American Dog Magazine. Web November 21, 2012. http://www.theamericandogmag.com/drs-corner/water-borne-illnesses-in-dogs