Doggy-Style Science: Assumptions Wagging the Masters When It Comes to Water, Dog, and Chemical Exposure

If you're a new dog owner, your veterinarian will likely tell you to give your dog plenty of fresh water. If you have a big dog - not a lap dog, but a big one bred to hunt 'em up - you know what I'm talking about when I give this example of where that notion likely comes from.

Dump out the leftover warm water in his bowl and fill it up from the tap, and he's going drink up a quart, on the spot. What we don't know is whether he does that because it tastes better, all nice and cool and chlorinated, or whether he's going to do it to reward you for paying attention to him. He's training his master, so to speak.

Take that big dog out for a walk in the country and he's likely as not to lap from the first brown and bubbly puddle he comes across. And the next one as well, as if he is sampling the fare. We don't know if it's the excitement or just what is going on in that little dog brain, but it's obviously not that the water is "nice and fresh and cool and my master gave it to me."

Now that dog-to-water motivations are completely clear, check out this bit of scientific cat-chasing, as reported by WaterSecretsBlog."According to a new study reported in the June 1, 2008, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is absolutely no reason to give your dog anything but water from your tap.

"The study, led by Dr. Lorraine Backer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that dogs are not susceptible to the chemicals, such as chlorine, used to disinfect municipal water. Dogs don't gulp down a big glass of water like people often do [right]; and their water usually sits in a bowl for hours, which allows the chemical concentrations to decrease over time [sure it does]. Also, dogs do not take long shower or baths, as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association [so there's no chlorine exposure unless its' a Labrador Retriever that practically lives in the backyard swimming pool]."

Here from the abstract of the published research paper is a statement of "Conclusions and Clinical Relevance":

—Although humans and their dogs live in the same household, the activity patterns of dogs may lead to lower exposures to household tap water. Thus, although exposure to disinfection by-products in tap water may be a risk factor for human bladder cancer, this may not be true for canine bladder cancer at the concentrations at which dogs are exposed.
The press release upon which the WaterSecretsBlog posting seems to be based is here, on the AVMA website.

The full citation of the described study is Evaluation of associations between lifetime exposure to drinking water disinfection by-products and bladder cancer in dogs, Lorraine C. Backer, Angela M. Coss, Amy F. Wolkin, W. Dana Flanders, John S. Reif, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association Jun 2008, Vol. 232, No. 11: 1663-1668. Access to the full paper is by subscription.

Just to be clear: giving one's dog bottled water as a regular matter is ridiculous for reasons unrelated to the risk of doggy bladder cancer. If that worries you, get a filter.

Via::WaterSecretsBlog, Tap Water is Fine for Your Dog

Tags: Dogs