Swimming does not make dogs sick

Born and bred in Masset: Xuuda, a healthy dog.
Born and bred in Masset: Xuuda, a healthy dog.
Born and bred in Masset: Xuuda, a healthy dog.

By Graham Richard —

An upset stomach, affectionately dubbed “garbage-can gastroenteritis” in the veterinary community, is a very common problem for the beloved canine. It is caused by their indiscriminate consumption of “junk-food” like deer hooves, fish guts and other culinary delights. Swimming does not cause gastroenteritis, and so far no dogs have contracted anything by swimming in the ocean.

Early July in K’il Llnagaay Sandspit and Gaaw, two dogs showed symptoms of gastroenteritis. One owner was coached over the phone to induce vomiting, which revealed the dog had consumed sea-scraps. By morning the dog recovered. In the other incident the dog was brought in, received treatment, vomited sea-scraps, and recovered by morning. Never the less, rumours began circulating that something deadly was in the seawater.

Local veterinarian Dr Don Richardson successfully treats a steady stream of patients struck down by this common ailment. All dogs brought to his clinic with symptoms have recovered with treatment. Not a single dog brought to Dr Richardson for gastroenteritis has died.

“A lot of people have blown this completely out of proportion,” explained Dr Richardson. “We get dogs [with gastroenteritis] on a regular basis week in week out. No [dog] died. Every [dog] got better.”

To prevent illness, ensure your dog does not consume salt or stagnant water, rotting flesh, or large amounts of seaweeds. Watching your dog’s diet at the beach will also eliminate risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody excrement, and “neuro-signs” – like shaking, quakes, and tremors. If your dog exhibits these symptoms and does not recover within 24-hours, seek professional help. With time recovery grows more difficult. Dogs brought in very late may require I.V. treatment. Dogs visiting from off-island contract gastroenteritis more frequently because they consume ocean water to quench thirst more often.

“No one is getting sick from swimming.. there are not dozens of dogs dying, and these cases are not connected. We see them all the time,” Dr Richardson reassured. “Drinking salt and stagnant water will make you sick. Sometimes your dog will also get what appears to be beaver fever. They respond wonderfully to medication and get better.”

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