Stories like the 1999 incident when 1,000 people fell ill and two died at a county fair in upstate New York after ingesting E. coli bacteria in drinking water have made people far more cautious about taking city water supplies for granted. This means you should carefully consider whether to drink water directly from the tap. Many pet owners believe that food that is not fit for human consumption is not fit for their pets, and this also applies to the water that you give your dog to drink.
According to a February 2000 report on data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the safety of drinking water in 25 states, as many as 56 million people were drinking water with unsafe levels of arsenic. This compound enters the water from natural deposits in the earth's crust through damaged pipes and infrastructure. Veterinary studies have shown that prolonged use of arsenic-contaminated water in dogs can cause the breakdown of organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Chemical contaminants include chlorine and fluoride, which are added to the water to kill dangerous organisms and prevent tooth decay. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, heart disease, artery and joint problems and other medical conditions, and dogs are just as likely to suffer from these illnesses as humans.
Water filtration systems using a carbon filter remove most of the contaminants that escape the municipal checks. These systems are available in a purification water jug that you can keep in the refrigerator, in a kitchen system that connects to the tap and filters the water as you draw it, or in a "whole house" filtration system that is installed at your water supply. Water filtered in this manner is completely safe for both human and dog use.
Bottled water is a good second choice for your dog if filtered water is not available. Make sure the water you use is of verified quality by choosing brands that have a known protected source or that make water-quality testing and treatment information readily available. In addition, the bottles should have an expiration date. Plastic water bottles can leach chemicals called phthalates into the water over a period of time, and as of publication there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water. These can disrupt your dog's testosterone and other hormones.
Clean and Fresh
Water that has passed through a reputable filtration system is the best option for your dog, but it should be changed daily and the bowl washed thoroughly with soap each time. Use a galvanized metal, stainless steel or glass bowl, as these are the easiest to clean and least likely to sustain scratches in which bacteria can breed or enable algae buildup. Don't store your dog's water in a plastic container for more than a day or two, and keep it in the refrigerator until use to maintain its freshness.
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities -- Executive Summary
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Arsenic in Drinking Water
- "Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation"; Arsenic concentrations in Tissues and Body Fluids of Dogs on Chronic Low-level Dietary Sodium Arsenite; R.D. Neiger, G.D. Osweiler; P3
- Natural Bias; The Deadly Dangers of Tap Water; V. Miller; March 2, 2009
- Home Water Filtration Systems; Water Purification and Treatment; Michael Griffin
- Water 411: Pure Water --- Regulating the Stream
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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