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Pup sick after swimming in the river? Vet says it's common--and treatable

A dog swims in the Bow River at a beach at the Sue Higgins off-leash park in Calgary. (PHOTO: Kayla Butler, CityNews Calgary)

CALGARY – There’ve been some concerns on a Facebook group among Calgarians whose dogs have gotten sick after a dip in the river.

People who frequent the Sue Huggins off-leash dog park on Southland and Deerfoot shared on the social media platform that they’ve noticed their pups having some runny poops after going for a swim.

Veterinarian Heather Pineo with the Marda Loop animal hospital says they see this often.

“In our area with our practice near the river, we see lots of dogs swimming and drinking the river water in the Elbow and some of them end up with symptoms that go along with that,” she said.

“They can have symptoms of diarrhea, either just from consumption of water that contains any particulate matter to algae or sometimes the river has a high coliform count which can lead to bacterial diarrhea, giardia, as well.”

She says there can be some communication of giardia from dogs to humans, but it typically only happens with the immuno-compromised.

If your dog does get sick–and if the vet finds the bacteria–Pineo says it’s just a simple treatment.

“Usually if we see a dog that’s been swimming in the river or drinking out of the river and they end up with diarrhea, we’ll do a fecal test for giardia organisms and if they’re there, it’s a very simple oral treatment.”

She says if your dog has been swimming lately and has had diarrhea for a couple days or is vomiting or lethargic, you should call your vet.

-with files from Chris Bowen