7 Diseases Your Dog Can Get from Swimming

The temperature is getting higher and the lovely summer days arrive in just a few weeks. The majority of dogs love to beat the heat by getting into the water to refresh themselves while others would swim whenever they get the chance to.

However, there are common recreational water sources that include some organisms which can put your dog’s health at great risk not only your dog but other pets too! Most of the article is directed at dogs but these diseases can affect many other pets too!

According to several veterinarians across the United States, dogs are commonly diagnosed with some waterborne diseases. They urge pet owners to pay more attention especially during summer. This article is not to scare you but only to inform you should your pet develop symptoms and also to look for waters that your pet should not swim in.


Leptospirosis is a common waterborne disease that’s usually found in warm regions with high rainfall and can be found worldwide.

The deadly bacteria that cause this disease don’t only infect dogs but also humans. Infection occurs when an animal comes in contact with contaminated water or urine.
Canines that frequently swim in streams, lakes, and rivers are at the highest risk of being infected.

Leptospirosis is difficult to diagnose because the signs can largely vary, some common symptoms include kidney failure, jaundice, urination disorder, vomiting, shivering, muscle tenderness, and fever. However, these signs are seen in many other illnesses, so vets rely on exposure history to diagnose this disease.

Suspected cases should be handled with extreme care because they can pass it to humans. If untreated, it can lead to death, but many dogs respond well to early proper treatment.


Pythiosis is also called swamp cancer. It’s a rare but serious waterborne disease. It’s known as a plants’ disease but can also infect animals (with horrible outcomes).

The disease is found in warmer atmospheres, especially in the Gulf States, South America, and Southeast Asia. It can attach itself to gastrointestinal tract or skin wounds in order to keep growing.

If it got through the skin, you’ll notice large red itchy lumps, while if it started in the GI tract, there would be signs like diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting.

Pythiosis is most common in Labrador, a dog breed that immensely loves swimming.
Sadly, it’s hard to diagnose and isn’t exposed until advanced stages, it’s also resistant to many treatments, leaving a one and only option which is surgery.


Water-loving pups are highly attracted to freshwater ponds and lakes, especially during summer. Owners should be careful because it can bear a dense buildup of blue-green algae.

This terrible disease can produce toxins which cause severe effects on both pets and humans.

Algal toxins have many different forms and can affect the nervous system, liver, GI tract, or skin. Symptoms depend on the type of toxin a pet was exposed to and can include seizures, respiratory failure, vomiting, nausea, rashes, and death.

Owners should keep their dogs away from swimming in all lakes that have visible algal blooms (it’s impossible to tell whether the algae produces toxins), and must be instantly report to their vet any doubtful signs of sickness after swimming.


Giardiasis is one of many parasites that usually cause diarrhea in dogs and humans. It isn’t regarded as a main zoonotic disease as well as it’s not necessarily passed from dogs to humans.

It particularly leads to a sudden onset of diarrhea in dogs and can cause weight loss and dehydration if the pet has been infected for a long period.

Most cases are self-limiting and easygoing. Medications can fasten recovery in contaminated pets.


Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium and is one of the most horrible waterborne diseases.

Several species of this parasite exist in various animals. Unfortunately, some of it can also infect humans.

Cryptosporidium is very resistant and can survive almost any environment, as it’s protected by a thick outer shell.

Dogs can be infected through digesting contaminated water or food.

This disease can lead to severe dehydration and causes watery diarrhea. Luckily, most cases are rarely life-threatening and symptoms disappear in two weeks with proper treatment.


Dog owners in Louisiana and Texas should be extra careful and always keep an eye on their water-loving pups.

Canine Schistosomiasis is caused by an organism that penetrates the dog’s skin while swimming in contaminated freshwater and then travels through the lungs into the liver. Moreover, adults produce eggs which pass through the GI tract and are shed in the feces.

These eggs cause terrible inflammation that usually manifests as lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. The chronic nature of the inflammatory lesions can make the treatment quite challenging.

This organism is not interested in humans as a host, however, it can cause skin rashes.


This disease is a common organism linked to chronic ear infections in dogs and can have several causes, including underlying, yeast, and bacteria. Causative agents can also be found in water, particularly in pools.

Dogs that tend to have ear infections can see it coming, with the smelly head, the itchy ear canals, and the shaking head.

The infection can usually be treated with flushes and appropriate treatments if it’s limited to the outer ear canal.

Owners who have pups with large floppy ears and an immense love for swimming should be extremely careful.


It’s necessary to keep in mind that swimming-related deadly diseases are rare in dogs. Just remember to avoid ponds and pools.

If your pooch happens to show any sign of sickness after a swim, you should take them immediately to your vet and mention the recent water exposure.

Simply, know where you pooch is getting wet and if you wouldn’t swim in it then maybe they also shouldn’t.

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