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Thread: Sodium Tetra Borate & Dogs Drinking Pool Water

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    Sodium Tetra Borate & Dogs Drinking Pool Water

    We just got a puppy, now 14 weeks old, and have been teaching her to swim. But often, as a prelude to getting in, she'll lap up several gulps of pool water. I have close to 5000 ppm of salt, and 80 ppm of borate. Does anyone know the risks/dangers of this for my dog? (We brought out her water bowl to drink that first, but she still wants to lap up the pool instead!)
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    My understanding is that pets which get a substantial portion of their water from the pool will over several weeks be at the threshold of detectable symptoms. It shouldn't be all that difficult to teach a dog not to drink from the pool.
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    KurtV's Avatar
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    This WHO study report may help you. From my quick perusal of it, I'd say it's not a good thing for the dogs to be drinking the pool water, but unless they're drinking a bunch of it, it probably isn't very bad for them either.

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    Borates in high doses have caused testicular atrophy and low sperm count in male dogs and fetal reabsorption in pregnant *****es. The doses were far higher than what's in your pool but chronic exposure to small amounts will affect liver and kidneys eventually.

    It is not always easy to teach a dog not to drink from the pool or any other body of non-potable water. If you correct her while she's in the pool drinking, she may well associate the correction with the pool itself and become scared of it. We recommend you place two dishes of water several feet apart near the pool. Fill one with pool water, the other with her regular drinking water. Have some tiny treats handy. Microwaved quarters of sliced turkey dogs are good, esp. the low salt variety.

    Put her on lead, guide her to the fresh water, praise as soon as she makes a motion to sniff it or drink it (Good water! Good dog!), give a treat. Verbal praise should be done with a slightly high pitched voice. Guide her to the pool water dish and give a verbal and physical correction. The verbal correction might be a strong NO (using a low voice), or a PFUI. The physical correction would be a pop on the lead straight up.

    Then switch back to the fresh water dish, lots of praise, lots of treats. Do not let her in the pool that day. This training session is strictly for her to learn that fresh water is good, but the smell of pool water is bad. You can do water training sessions twice a day and keep them short because she's still young with a short attention span.

    When you do allow her in the pool and she begins to lap, use the same verbal correction you used for the bad water dish, same voice, same word. She'll catch your drift. As soon as she stops lapping, if only to look at you like 'What's up?' give verbal praise.

    Anna
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    We recommend you place two dishes of water several feet apart near the pool. Fill one with pool water, the other with her regular drinking water. . .
    You sound like you really know your dogs. Would this be a suitable approach for an adult dog? I would love to let Ollie swim in my pool, but I haven't b/c of the borates. He enjoys getting in large or small bodies of water (from puddles to lakes!) and he always drinks from the water he plays/swims in.

    I wouldn't give him free access to the pool, just occasional supervised dips. My borate level is between 50 & 80. Do you think it would be okay just to let him take the occasional drink of the pool, or should I take the time to train him not to drink it?

    TIA!
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    Hi Jules,

    Dogs who swim are always going to ingest some of the water, just like kids do. As an aside, unlike kids and, apparently, some adults, dogs do not pee in the water

    The occasional gulp of pool water is not a big deal. When swimming in the ocean and swallowing salt water, dogs will likely get the runs for a half a day. In my opinion, all dogs should be taught not to purposely drink water other than what's given to them. Standing water, such as in puddles, can contain lepto spirochetes. Ponds and lakes can have a bloom of blue-green algae which can kill a dog.

    Ollie can learn not to drink pool water just as any other dog can. The two-dish method has worked for us with a number of dogs but I do have to say this: it does not stop them from taking a taste. They won't try to suck the pool dry once they've been taught but they will stick their tongue in and taste it. This is probably an instinctive response whereby they're testing their environment. Just like barking or chewing, we can redirect it and manage it but we can't (and shouldn't) stop it entirely.

    They're dogs and they do dog things. That's why we have them and love them, right?

    Anna
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    As an aside, unlike kids and, apparently, some adults, dogs do not pee in the water
    I'm sorry about being off topic, but I have been laughing at this all day long! Thanks Richard!

    Back to the topic, I would like to try adding borates to my water, but of course I also have to think about the dogs. They both will drink from the pool and we have been diligent with telling them "NO" and they stop (for a second). I've also tried to put a bowl of fresh water (even with ice) by the pool that they WILL drink out of but it seems every time they get in the pool the first thing they do is start lappin it up. Actually, the female "bites" the water. I can't really tell if she's actually swallowing. Anybody else experience "water biting" dogs?

    Anyway, Anna, I think I will try the fresh-water bowl/pool-water bowl method and see if that works. Thanks for the tip.
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    Yes, water biting is very common. When a dog is in the water, his eyes are nearly level with the surface. As soon as there's a wave, the dog perceives this as prey and snaps at it. Ditto for dogs who sit with their butts on the deck and their feet on the first step. As long as the water is calm, they may lap but they won't bite it. If you splash water at them, they perceive the drops as prey and snap. Be sure your hand isn't in the way because these are prey snaps - they hurt!

    They don't swallow the water when they bite it. If you look closely, they filter it out the sides of their mouth, sort of like whales do. When they lap with thier tongues, they swallow. Time to bop them between the eyes and give a very strong NO!

    If you have a water feature and a prey driven dog, your fountain will soon be history. The hat thingie on my PoolSkim? Got nearly killed by Marcus because it bobs up and down and he thought it was for sure a pool invader.

    If I may make a tiny suggestion: instead of ice in their drinking water, add a little low salt chicken broth, instead, to make it really attractive. There's some evidence that ice water causes such rapid core temperature changes in dogs that they can bloat or have other severe problems.

    Anna
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    Anna,
    I can't praise you enough for your intuitveness about dogs. Luckily, our only water feature, a geyser (bubbler) is semi-flush with the plaster (pebble) and cannot be ruined. And yes, she bites at the geyser water!
    Thanks for your reply and suggestions!


    Dave
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    Thanks for the praise, Dave.

    I've lived with so many dogs for such a long time that I couldn't help but learn a thing or two about them. And, just like my dogs, I thrive on praise.

    Anna
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    They're dogs and they do dog things. That's why we have them and love them, right?

    Anna
    Yup, absolutely! I'm glad to know dogs don't pee in the water. I was a little concerned about that. But now I'm worried about the lake and puddle water! With your 2-dish method you can train the dog to avoid pool water, but how do you train them to avoid drinking from puddles and lakes?

    Ollie is a real water dog. He doesn't have a water dish, he has a washtub. We used to give him a bucket of water, but he would put his front legs in that and "dig" the water out of the bucket. We bought the washtub so he could drink from it and climb in when he wants to.

    Have we overindulged him? Should we go to a water dish instead?

    Our other dog, Perrito, is not interested in swimming, which is why I haven't mentioned him, but we love him too.

    Thank you from me, too, for sharing your expertise.
    ~Jules~

    My pool: INDOOR 13x27 rectangular fiberglass, built ~2001, BBB, TA-60 sand filter, Hayward two speed pump (1 hp/0.33 hp), 3/4 hp booster pump for solar heater
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    Dogs drinking pool water

    Quote Originally Posted by giulietta1

    Yup, absolutely! I'm glad to know dogs don't pee in the water. I was a little concerned about that. But now I'm worried about the lake and puddle water! With your 2-dish method you can train the dog to avoid pool water, but how do you train them to avoid drinking from puddles and lakes?


    You use the same command word as what you use when you train them on pool water. In our house, it's PFUI (phooey). Other people use LEAVE IT. It's a useful command when used with a forceful voice. If the tone is right it'll make them jump back from whatever substance you want them to stop being interested in: kitty litter, rabbit pellets, your m-i-l's . . . um . . . well, dogs do tend to sniff a lot of strange places, don't they?

    For the most part we walk ours on lead even out by the lake. With the lead on, you can just give the command and pop the lead and they'll leave it. Off leash is more of a challenge. If your command voice is impressive enough, they'll pay attention. If not, I've found throwing a small rock very effective



    Quote Originally Posted by giulietta1
    Have we overindulged him? Should we go to a water dish instead?


    Of course you've overindulged him. That's part of the fun of having dogs. Look at us: We built an entire pool for ours. The big tubs are a good idea for water diggers. On of ours derives great joy of dragging his tub, one of those red ones with the rope handles, sold at HD, all over the yard. Doesn't that wash tub take up a whole lot of space in your kitchen, though?



    Quote Originally Posted by giulietta1
    Thank you from me, too, for sharing your expertise.

    You're welcome. I've learned so very much about pool maintenance on this forum and over on PF that I'm happy to be able to give back a little. I don't yet feel qualified to give pool advice but I do know a little about dogs and if what I can share helps someone, then that's great.

    Anna
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    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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