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Waterborne Diseases For Dogs 

March 15, 2023

We definitely have a lot of water here in Louisiana. We have 57 lakes, and countless miles of swamps and bayou. That makes for beautiful scenery, but there is a downside. Not only can waters hide dangerous critters such as snakes and gators, they can also be a haven for waterborne diseases and bacteria. A New Orleans, LA vet lists some key ones for pet owners to be aware of below. 


Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that thrives in wet conditions. It’s found in areas where infected animals have drank or urinated. Pets can contract the disease simply by walking through a spot an infected animal passed through earlier. Warning signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. Lepto can be treated, though it’s important for Fido to get prompt care. It’s also worth noting that there is a vaccine available, though it may not be recommended for all pets. Ask your vet for more information.


Giardiasis is a parasitic disease that causes diarrhea. The culprit here is a protozoa, Giardia duodenalis, which lives in the intestines. As one may expect, diarrhea is the most common symptom here, though some dogs still have regular stools. Giardia can be treated, though you would need to get your pet to the vet immediately.


Pythiosis—also known as swamp cancer—is one of the rarer issues on the list, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. In fact, it’s often fatal. Pythios is caused by a specific kind of fungus, which infects the skin and digestive tract. Warning signs include lesions, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody stools.


Protothecosis thrives in warm, humid areas, so it’s no surprise that the Gulf Coast is a hotbed. Like pythiosis, it can cause skin lesions. It can also lead to blindness, seizures, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.  

Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae)

Warm freshwater ponds and lakes tend to form algae blooms, which can be extremely toxic, and can often be fatal. Blooms do cause scum and bad smells, but you can’t tell if a lake is safe by looking at it, so always do your research. Pay close attention to signs posted around areas, and don’t let your canine buddy splash, swim, play in, or drink water unless you’re sure it’s safe. 

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