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What kind of water do you use in a pet water fountain?

Apr 12,2023 | petwant

Warmer summer days are just around the corner! That means more outdoor adventures with our dogs and more sunny windows for our cats to hang out by. Warmer temperatures also mean thirsty pets. When your pet is thirsty, you can let them drink water. But does it matter where the water comes from? Can a dog get sick from drinking water from a pond? Will a cat get abdominal pain from drinking water from a fish tank?

As a pet parent, you want your furry friend to stay hydrated and healthy. Here's what you need to know about the daily water needs of your canine and feline friends and the various sources they may sniff out to quench their thirst.

10 Common Water Sources: Are They Safe?

Whether they spend time at home or in nature, your pets love to drink water. If they sniff out one of these water sources and go in for a drink, here's what you need to know.

1. Bottled water
Bottled water is safe to share with your dog or cat. Choose spring water or bottled tap water varieties. Some veterinarians, including those at Locust Valley Veterinary Clinic, are skeptical about the quality of distilled water for pets and its effects on urinary and heart health.

2. Creek, pond or river water
The American Kennel Club warns pet parents that you never know when a pond or river may be contaminated. The water can carry substances that can make your pet sick, such as leptospirosis, algae or bacteria trapped in stagnant water and mud. Pet drinks are best avoided with this water.

3. Fish tank water
Do you have an ornamental pond in your backyard that you can fill up with water during the warm weather months? Or, perhaps you have an indoor aquarium? If you find that your cat or dog is drinking from this bubbling water source, transfer them to their own water bowl. Why? These water sources are chemically treated to maintain water balance for fish, reduce algae and maintain proper pH levels. They are not suitable for your furry friend to drink from.

4. Seawater
When you head to the beach, your pup may love to frolic in the gentle waves. But what about dogs drinking from the ocean? Sea water is naturally salty. According to Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, if your pet drinks this water, they can develop salt poisoning, also known as hypernatremia, which can have a negative impact on the nervous system. Instead of relying on the ocean as a source of water, prepare your pet with plenty of bottled spring water or tap water from home.

5. Pool water
Public and home pools are chemically treated to keep bacteria and algae levels low for swimmers. The use of salt (similar to the ocean) and chlorine means that pool water is not safe for your pets. When you visit neighbors for a pool party, bring fresh drinking water to stay hydrated. Dogs can get upset stomachs from drinking from the pool, even if it's just a few sips.

6. Puddle water
Can you identify the source of the puddle? Is it coming from the dripping garden hose provided by your home's water system? If so, it is safe for your pet to explore. Is the puddle next to a creek bed or on the side of the road after a rain? Avoid letting your dog lick the water when you're out walking. Oil from car drips and lingering winter road treatment chemicals - and who knows what else - may still be on the sidewalk and at the bottom of that puddle.

7. Shared/community water bowls
As you walk around with your dog at the farmer's market, dog-friendly park or pet store, it's common to see a community water bowl for all of your dog's visitors to use. But should you? Maybe. If you can fill the bowl yourself with your tap water system, then give your pup a sip. But if a line of dogs keeps drinking and drooling back into the bowl, steer clear. Preventive veterinarians explain that shared dog water bowls are a breeding ground for disease-causing microorganisms, including parasites, worms, viruses and bacteria.

8. Tap water/drinking fountains
This is the best option for providing fresh water for your pet. Tap water has been cleaned and is ready for human consumption, bathing and washing. The American Animal Hospital Association does warn that very hard water with higher than usual mineral content can trigger urinary health problems in pets. Therefore, if there is softened water available, that would be a better choice.

9. Floral water
No pet should rely on toilet water as a source of water. If your pet is just curious, put a lid on it. They may accidentally swallow human excrement, chemically treated toilet water or lingering bathroom cleaners - all of which are sure to make your pet sick.

10. Well water
Live in a rural area? If your home is equipped with well water and you can safely drink it, then it's good for your pet too. However, if you have a farm pump and use well water exclusively for outdoor livestock, test the water regularly to make sure no contaminants are leaking into the aquifer.

Clean water is essential for pets
If you're not sure if your pet should be drinking from a water source, ask yourself if you'd like to take a sip. Does the water look clean? Is it fresh? Clear? If you can't say "yes" to these questions, it's probably not a good idea for your pet either. Next time you go on a nature hike with Fido, bring a few extra bottles of water to share with others. If you see Fluffy staring at the toilet, check your cat's water bowl. Need to rinse and refill? Everyone likes fresh, cool water - including pets.