Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world, including i Love Dogs, are writing about the same issue in order to spark a global discussion and drive collective action. This year’s issue is water.
Do you think it’s healthier to give your dog bottled water instead of water from the faucet? Think again: Recent studies have found that tap water is safe for dogs.
Although the long-term consumption of disinfected tap water has been associated with bladder cancer in humans, a June 2008 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded that it does not cause bladder cancer in dogs.
Dogs don’t gulp down a big glass of water like humans do, so their exposure to any by-products of drinking water disinfection is different than ours. Since their water typically sits in their bowls for hours, any concentration of chemicals produced when chlorine interacts with natural organic matter decreases over time.
Besides, did you know tap water is subject to more safety testing than bottled water? Consumer Reports cites a 2009 study by the General Accounting Office that found that bottled water undergoes less scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than does tap water, which must meet the tougher safety regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act, public water systems for cities with 10,000 or more residents must use certified laboratories to test tap water annually for contaminants, and are then required to release a water-quality report called the consumer-confidence report (CCR). The CCR summarizes the water quality, information about its source, the levels of detected contaminants and whether they exceed federal levels, and information about their health effects. (If you live in a smaller town, consult the EPA’s website for this information about your water.)
On the other hand, bottled water doesn’t have to be tested by certified labs. Its manufacturers are not required to report water-quality testing results to the FDA – even if the water contains contaminants that exceed federal standards.
If your tap water contains less than 5,000 parts per million of total dissolved solids, it is considered acceptable for pets, according to VetInfo.com. Tap water may pose some health risks if it is high in iron, magnesium, or nitrates. If this is true for the tap water where you live, you can install a filter on your faucet to remove these solids.
Some pet parents buy expensive bottled water for their dogs, only to pour it into dirty bowls that can harbor nasty organisms far worse than anything out of the tap. Peteducation.com recommends washing your dog’s water bowl every day and disinfecting it periodically. Stainless steel bowls are most bacteria resistant, since they’re easy to clean and are difficult to scratch. If you would not drink the water in your dog’s bowl, Peteducation.com advises, then neither should your dog.
Now that you know tap water is safe for your dog, consider how much you’ll be helping the environment by filling his bowl from the faucet instead of a bottle. The Plastic Institute reports that in one year, more than 17 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture plastic water bottles. Bottling the water produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and it takes three liters of water to produce just one liter of bottled water. And after all that, almost 90 percent of plastic water bottles are never recycled.