Filtered Water For Dogs: Is It Safe And Why?


Just as we do, dogs need clean water to lead full and healthy lives. This means providing water that is safe to drink and also has healthy amounts of important minerals. Most Americans filter their water and around 50% of all households in America own a dog. So, you may be wondering if filtered water is safe and is it the best option for your beloved pet.

Filtered water is best for your dog. Tap water can be provided as long as it doesn’t contain contaminants or harmful bacteria. Bottled water is a good choice when the tap water and filtered water is not a viable option. Avoid giving your dog distilled water.

The first step to providing clean water for your dog is understanding the needs of your dog. It’s important to also note the various types of water available, their composition, the benefits and the risks involved in providing each type of water for your dog.

Let’s discover everything you need to know to provide the best water for a healthy and happy dog.

Is it safe to give dogs filtered water?

Filtered water still retains most of the minerals but without the contaminants or harmful bacteria that may be present in tap or bottled water. These minerals are important for the proper growth and health of your dog.

Water filtration processes involve removing undesirable contaminants. These may include:

  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Chemical compounds
  • Minerals
  • Metals

The goal of water filtration is to make it safe for human consumption.

It is completely safe for dogs to drink filtered water. In fact, in certain circumstances, it’s recommended. Filtered water will be free of harmful contaminants that may otherwise impact your dog’s health.

In normal situations, tap water is perfectly fine for your dog. However, there are a many contaminants or additives in tap water that can harm your pup.

Bacteria

High concentrations of bacteria, such as pathogenic Escherichia coli (E.coli) can sometimes be found in tap water and are one of the most dangerous for dogs

While most E.coli groups will not cause any harm to your dog, some can cause serious infections and health problems including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Death (worst case!)

Parasites

Parasites, such as Giardia, from fecal matter that finds its way into the water may also cause diarrhea in dogs.  

Chemical compounds

High levels of fluorine (typically found as fluoride compounds in water) can cause

  • Muscle weakness
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Death

Dogs are 8 times more prone to osteosarcoma (bone tumor) from consuming fluorine rich water than humans. Just because fluoridated water is safe for human consumption doesn’t necessarily make it safe for your pet.

Some people worry that chlorine in tap water may not be safe for dogs. However, if the chlorine levels are safe for human consumption, then it’s safe for dogs.

Minerals

If you have hard water (mineral content >121 mg/L) your dog may suffer urinary tract conditions such as crystal Luria. This is where there is crystal buildup in the dog’s urinary tract due to the high mineral levels in their system.

Metals

Lead present in water can also cause gastrointestinal health issues such as diarrhea, vomiting or seizures. This can cause extreme pain and suffering for your pup.

High copper concentrations in water primarily come from your copper pipes and can cause copper toxicity in dogs resulting in dehydration, anorexia and even shock. Copper in your water can also result in hepatitis and eventual liver cirrhosis.

Is distilled water good for dogs?

The distillation process generally involves boiling water and then cooling and condensing the vapor in a separate jar. This removes harmful contaminants.

However, the downside of distillation is that it also removes healthy and much-needed minerals from the water. The result is a liquid that tastes flat.

Distilled water is not healthy for your dog as it lacks minerals and electrolytes that are important for a healthy and proper body function.

Keep in mind that you want to achieve a good balance between water being too hard and water that has optimum mineral levels for a healthy pup.

This is why it’s best to go for filtered water. Even while filtration may remove some of the minerals, the process only takes out a small and often insignificant amount. You can thus be sure that your dog is getting a good supplementation of essential minerals.

Does filtered water help with dog tear stains?

If your dog has tear stains and you’ve done your due diligence by taking your pup to the vet for a checkup, then you probably know that some dogs are more prone to getting tear stains than others.

This is because some breeds tend to produce more tears than others do.

But what causes the tear stains?

Well, tears have certain molecules in them called porphyrins. These contain high amounts of iron that dries out and causes the reddish-brown stains below your dog’s eyes.

Light-colored dogs will have more visible tear stains than darker dogs.

But what does all this have to do with the water your dog is drinking?

Water that is hard – high mineral content – or has a high iron content can result in larger and more excessive tear stains even in dog breeds that generally do not produce too many tears.

Filtered water can remove some of the hardness and the minerals in the water and thus help to reduce the appearance of the tear stains.

Can you give your dog bottled water?

If you are wondering about the healthy alternatives to tap water for your pup, you may likely consider bottled water.

However, bottled water is NOT a viable alternative for your dog. And this is why…

Firstly, bottled water is expensive so providing this for your dog will likely put a serious dent in your wallet!

Secondly, bottled water is often just tap water. Sure, sellers may market it as healthy spring water, but many brands are just tap water filled in a bottle and sealed.

Non-BPA free plastic bottles can also leach chemicals into water. If you’ve ever bought bottled water and it tasted kind of plasticky, then it might just have had plastic chemicals in it. These can also be harmful to your dog and cause health issues.

Simply put, if you’re not comfortable with drinking the tap water in your area, then it’s probably best to provide your dog with what you are drinking.

Can dogs drink well water?

Well water can contain many contaminants and pollutants, such as nitrates, that are not good for dogs. The quality of your well water has a lot to do with where you live but basically, if you have a good well-water filtration system you and your beloved pet dog will be fine.

For more information on well water for dogs, check out this article I wrote titled Can Well Water Make A Dog Sick.

Can dogs drink dirty water?

Dirty water can contain harmful microorganisms.

Dirty water could be either standing water or water that has developed blue-green algae both of which are a big no-no for your dog.

You’ve probably taken your pup out for a walk and in the heat, you noticed that they wanted to lap up standing water. The danger of this is that the water may contain harmful bacteria such as leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause health issues. In the worst-case, leptospirosis can be fatal for your beloved pup.

But how does leptospirosis get into standing water? Well, animals such as mice, rats, and even raccoons may urinate near or in the standing water.

Leptospirosis can remain in the water waiting for your unsuspecting dog to drink it.

Blue-green algae on the other hand forms during favorable conditions of slow or still moving water, high nutrient levels, ample sunlight and warm water temperatures. These factors combined create ideal breeding conditions for the algae. If your dog ingests water containing blue-green algae, it can lead to serious health issues including:

  • Pale gums
  • Salivating
  • Excessive panting
  • Death

 It’s important that your pup only drinks clean water to avoid such risks.

Final Word

Tap water is typically fine for dogs provided it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals and isn’t too hard. Filtered water is the best option as it removes not just harmful chemicals and microorganisms but can also help remove hard-water minerals (mainly calcium and magnesium) and iron. Distilled water should be avoided.

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